zuppa bastarda

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Zuppa Bastarda (Bastard Soup)

From the book Zuppa! by
Serves 4

Culinate editor’s note: This recipe contains olive oil in the ingredients list that is not called for in the steps. Kelly Myers suggests adding it to the beans as they cook.


Bastard soup is so named because it uses black beans, which are called fascistini in honor of what Elda Cecchi calls “that black-shirted bastard who brought Italy to the brink of destruction during WWII.” On the positive side, it is very easy to prepare. “All you need,” she says, “are good fascistini beans, some stale bread, and, above all, some exceptionally good extra-virgin olive oil. Il gioco e fatto!” The game is won.


cups dried black beans, soaked
7 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. dried sage, crumbled
8 slices peasant bread (¾-inch thick), stale or toasted
~ Salt to taste
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
~ Freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. basil pesto


  1. Drain the beans and place in a soup pot along with 5 cloves of the garlic, the onion, sage, and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1½ hours. Add more water if necessary. Salt at the halfway mark.
  2. Cut the remaining garlic cloves in half. Using half a clove for each 2 slices of bread, rub the bread with the cut sides of the garlic until the bread is perfumed with the odor. Divide the slices among 4 bowls and top each with 1 Tbsp. of the basil pesto.
  3. Pour the bean soup into the bowls over the bread. Serve hot.

Related article: When yesterday’s bread becomes tomorrow’s soup

This content is from the book Zuppa! by Anne Bianchi.

There are 4 comments on this item
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25% recommend this recipe
1. by Katherine Deumling on Feb 17, 2010 at 10:24 PM PST

I love, love, love this dish. I started making it after Carol and Anthony Boutard included it in one of their Ayers Creek Farmers’ Market email updates. I would never have put these flavors together and it’s such a winner. Was actually going to teach it in one my next classes - though there’s not much to teach there!:)

2. by Dacia on Feb 19, 2010 at 8:40 AM PST

Gorgeous! I make black bean soup a lot, but I’ve never thought to serve pesto with it. I will definitely do this soon. Thank you!

3. by oregon foodie on Feb 20, 2010 at 1:31 PM PST

i made this for dinner a couple of nights ago, using some of my pesto stash (frozen) from last summer. Oh me oh my. It was YUMMY! The soup itself doesn’t seem very interesting but when you add the bread and pesto. Wow! One question: where is the 4T of olive oil supposed to go? The recipe doesn’t say. Drizzled over the soup? On the bread before toasting? Hmmmmm

4. by Kim on Feb 23, 2010 at 1:26 PM PST

Oregon Foodie, thanks for you comment about the mysterious olive oil. We’ve done some sorting and sleuthing and come up with a suggestion from Kelly Myers: Add the olive oil to the beans when cooking. (The original recipe, in Anne Bianchi’s book Zuppa! also has this error, unfortunately.)

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