Rachel Roddy’s recipe for mountain-style bean, prosciutto and pasta soup | A kitchen in Rome

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Rachel Roddy

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Find out why this beautifully rustic bean and pasta offcut stew is the ‘Bill Murray of foods’

It feels like a tropical greenhouse, or that moment when you get off a plane in a hot country and the warm air clamps itself to your skin and promises not to let go until you go home two weeks later. The smell is a mix of fresh sawdust, ground almonds and talcum. I’ve visited various pasta factories over the years, so both the feeling and the smells are familiar. Although, like walking into a packed pub full of music and the smell of beer, familiarity never dents the thrill; nor does the spectacle of the pasta being extruded. It is the photographer, Jonathan, who asks if we can climb up the narrow ladder in order to look down into the impastatrice, the industrial mixer and kneader where kilos of semola are being combined with water to form an impasto, which is then forced through the many-holed die from which linguine streams like a looming cascade.

The cascade is cut into lengths, which are hung over bars so they look like a heavy, blunt, blond fringe. The bars with fringes swing out for the first stage of the several day-long drying process, before being cut. And this is the important bit, or rather bits. Removed from the bars, the lengths of pasta are rather like tweezers – two long lengths with a short curve or arc. The long lengths are cut into eight 26cm sections of linguine … and the curves? Well, like all curves, they are to be appreciated! At Pastificio Faella in Gragnano, they are called archetti and sold in 5kg bags and absolutely perfect for thick bean soup (and, of course, interchangeable with broken linguine or spaghetti or small tubes).

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