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Ham hock, borlotti bean and pasta minestra with battuto lardo

A hearty Italian soup for the cooler months, this minestra is made rich and silky by the addition of battuto lardo -
cured pork backfat that's mixed with herbs and garlic.

By Alice Storey & Emma Knowles
  • 45 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs 40 mins cooking plus pasta making, drying
  • Serves 4
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The battuto lardo - cured pork back-fat mixed with flavourings, in this case herbs and garlic - adds a rich silky note to this minestra. The broth and dough can be made a day ahead.


  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 1kg)
  • 2 each onions, carrots, celery stalks and baby fennel bulbs, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ quantity whole egg pasta dough
  • 400 gm podded borlotti beans (about 550gm unpodded)
  • 400 gm canned cherry tomatoes
  • 300 gm cavolo nero (about 1 bunch), shredded
  • To serve: finely grated parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil and oregano
Battuto lardo
  • 75 gm lardo, finely chopped, at room temperature (see note)
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp each coarsely chopped thyme and oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped


  • 1
    Bring hock, onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, chilli and 2.5 litres cold water to the simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low-medium, half cover with a lid and simmer until meat falls from the bone (1½-2 hours; top with extra water to keep hock covered if necessary).
  • 2
    Meanwhile, cut pasta dough into rough 5cm squares, place in a single layer on a lightly floured tray and stand until slightly dried (1 hour).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for battuto lardo, process ingredients in a food processor until a smooth purée forms (1-2 minutes), season to taste and set aside.
  • 4
    Remove hock with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool slightly. Add borlotti beans and tomatoes to pan, season to taste and simmer until beans are tender (25-30 minutes). Coarsely shred ham (discard skin, bone and sinew), return to broth with cavolo nero, simmer until tender (8-10 minutes) and season to taste.
  • 5
    Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large saucepan of generously salted boiling water until just al dente (1-2 minutes), remove with a slotted spoon and add to soup with oil and battuto lardo to taste. Serve hot scattered with parmesan and oregano, with extra battuto lardo.


Lardo is salted, cured pork back-fat; it's available from Italian delicatessens and Italian butchers.

  • undefined: Alice Storey & Emma Knowles