Fagiolina del Lago Trasimeno, or, commonly, fagiolina del Trasimeno, is one of the Slow Food presidia in Italy. I first talked about this special legume from Umbria, my home region, in this post. From the Slow Food page on fagiolina:
È un fagiolo con forma ovale e minuscola e può essere di vari colori: dal crema al nero passando per il salmone e per tutte le tonalità del marrone, anche screziato. In bocca è tenero, burroso e particolarmente saporito.
This tiny, oval bean,... exists in colors ranging from ivory white to salmon pink to brown to black. Soft, buttery and flavourful...
Growing fagiolina is a long, hard and all-manual process. Together with roveja, fagiolina del Trasimeno is a precious product from my home region that not long ago ran the risk of disappearing. Where roveja has a kind of simple, rustic beauty, fagiolina is rather dainty, with a smooth skin of pastel color (when not elegant black)1. The two legumes remind me of the two main characters of The Aristocats (Gli aristogatti): roveja (on the left in the photo below) is Thomas O'Malley (Romeo, "er mejo der Colosseo," as he says in the Italian version of the movie, declaring in both words and accent that he is from Roma), and fagiolina (on the right) is Duchess (Duchessa).
Following the Italian tradition, I made lenticchie di Castelluccio for New Year's Day (for being such a small region, Umbria certainly produces some important legumi) and I thought about sharing that recipe, but then I got sidetracked by the idea of adapting the recipe for Vegetarian Cassoulet to use fagiolina. My enthusiasm for the latter recipe was described in a recent post, where I talked about the three renditions of it that I made.
The thought that the delicate flavor of fagiolina would go well with that of the vegetables and aromatics called for by the recipe set in motion the fourth realization. Fagiolina does not need to be soaked before being cooked, and I decided to cook it with the vegetables, so I increased the amount of liquid with the idea of turning the dish into a soup. To make all this clear, here is the list of ingredients I used:
- one long leek (white and pale green parts only), corresponding to one and a half leeks of more normal length, cut in half lengthwise, washed well and sliced into 1/8" half moons
- 8 oz baby carrots, sliced no thicker than 1/4"
- one and a half celery ribs, cut lengthwise into thirds and chopped rather finely [don't forget that fagiolina is a tiny legume]
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- olive oil
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 parsley sprigs
- a small bay leaf
- a scant 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup fagiolina del Trasimeno, rinsed
- 1 quart liquid: about 3.5 cups of homemade vegetable stock (recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, made with the addition of corn cobs: when I roast corn to make this soup, I set aside the cobs and add them to the pot when I made vegetable stock, as I learned from my friend Christine of Christine Cooks) and the rest water [Updated2]
I followed the instructions given in the original recipe, with these changes:
- I cooked the vegetables 10 minutes before adding the fagiolina
- I covered the pot
- I cooked until the fagiolina was ready (which was more than the 30 minutes specified in the original recipe)
- I did not mash the fagiolina
- I omitted the garlic crumbs
I ate the soup as is, while my husband's portion included a serving of toasted and cooked hulless oats (in the photo, you can see the oats before being added to the soup). As usual with me, the soup was rather thick, a feature that can be adjusted by adding water to reach the desired density. I really liked the result: the vegetable medley complements well the flavor and texture of fagiolina, a legume that is indeed "tenero, burroso e particolarmente saporito" (soft, buttery and flavorful).
1 The fagiolina I have used so far was ivory in color, but I have a package of fagiolina of varied colors that I will use in a future recipe. Update: in this post there are some images of fagiolina and another recipe for it.
2I had neglected to specify that the stock was diluted a bit, and added it after publishing the post: apologies to the early readers.
This is my submission for My Legume Love Affair 31, the current edition of the popular, legume-centered event created by Susan, The Well-Seasoned Cook, and hosted this month by Simona of briciole (that would be me). This post contains links to the two-part roundup of the event.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the zuppa di fagiolina del Trasimeno audio file [mp3].
[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]