Fagioli con le cotiche is a rich stew made of beans and pork skins simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce. A hearty dish easy to make and perfect to feed a crowd.
Fagioli con le cotiche is a dish that belongs to the Italian cucina povera, which translates to poor cuisine or peasant cooking and refers to traditional Italian dishes that originated from humble, rustic ingredients to create flavorful and satisfying meals.
This recipe is a staple in Rome, so is at my home, where I make it often all year round.
The chewy pork skin and the flavorful bean soup make one of the most comforting dishes out there!
- Beans: Fagioli con le cotiche is traditionally made with borlotti beans in the Lazio and Marche region, so I prefer that. Canned or home-cooked beans work perfectly for this recipe.
- Cotiche: They are raw pig skin or pork rind. I usually buy it already cleaned and cut it into 2-inch squares.
- Odori: This is an Italian condiment also known as soffritto and is made of finely chopped carrot, onion, celery, and garlic. It adds tons of flavor and texture to this dish.
- Tomato: Use canned tomatoes or tomato passata. Or better yet, use homemade tomato sauce if you can.
- Oil: I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil because it has a distinct fruity to peppery flavor, and can enhance the taste of this dish.
- Salt & pepper: Table salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
How to Make Fagioli con le Cotiche
Place the pork rinds in a pot and cover with water. Boil for 40 minutes, then discard the cooking water and set aside.
In a large stew pot heat 3-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Sauté the soffritto vegetables for 3 minutes or until the veggies are tender and translucent.
Mix in the pork rinds and cook for 1 minute over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to enhance the flavors.
Pour in the canned tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Cook for 1-2 minutes and then pour enough water to cover the ingredients by 1 inch.
Cover the pot and cook everything for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time.
After that time, add the beans along with the beans cooking water. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes and adjust seasonings to taste.
Ladle the stew into bowls and serve immediately with a sprinkle of chopped parsley for presentation. Or store it for later meals as suggested below.
- Use a large stock pot to make this recipe, it will be easiest to stir and you’ll need plenty of room for the ingredients too.
- I like my fagioli con le cotiche to have a soupy texture, so I make sure to use lots of liquid to make them. If you want a thicker texture, just reduce slightly the liquids (water and beans cooking water).
- If you want to make a richer stew, you can also add some pork short ribs to the mix, this is a popular variation also here in Italy.
- For this recipe, you can use canned beans or cook your beans at home. Borlotti or pinto beans work fine for this dish.
- Want to add some spiciness? Crush a couple of peperoncino peppers and add them to the simmering stew.
Ways to Serve
In Italy, especially in the Lazio region, fagioli con le cotiche is served as an antipasto (appetizer) in small home restaurants called trattorie.
But it is also a common, hearty, and budget-friendly dish often made at home to serve as secondo (main dish) along with crusty bread. This is how my mother in law served them for years and one of my favorite ways, especially during the cold season.
If you want to serve it as antipasto, toast a few slices of bread to make a bruschetta and serve them along with cheese, pickled eggplant, and cold meats, just like we do in Italy.
Store and Reheat
One of the reasons I love fagioli con le cotiche is how easy is to store. You can make a double batch or store leftovers in the fridge for 3-4 days.
They also freeze well for up to 2-3 months and make a delicious and fulfilling meal to have on hand whenever you crave it. I usually divide the stew into small portions using frozen-proof containers or resealable bags.
For reheating, thaw overnight if frozen, transfer to a pan and add a splash of water to loosen up the sauce. Reheat over medium heat stirring gently until heated through.
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Fagioli con le Cotiche
- 8 cups canned borlotti beans (drained)
- 2 pounds pork rinds (cleaned and cut into 2-inch squares)
- 5 cups tomato sauce
- 1 ½ cups soffritto (made from carrot, onion, celery, and garlic finely chopped)
- 3 ½ cups beans cooking water (or pork stock, or just water)
- 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Boil the pork rinds in salted water for 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a large stew pot heat the extra virgin olive oil and sauté the soffritto vegetables for 3 minutes over medium-high heat.
- Mix in the pork rinds and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.
- Pour in the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes the pour enough water to cover the ingredients by 1 inch.
- Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time.
- Add the beans along with the beans cooking water. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until the stew thickens to your liking.
- Adjust seasonings to taste and turn off the heat. Serve immediately or store and reheat later.
- Use a large stock pot to make this recipe, it will be easiest to stir.
- I like my stew to have a soupy texture, so I make sure to use lots of liquid to make it. If you want a thicker texture, just reduce slightly the liquids (water and beans cooking water).
- If you want to make a richer stew, you can also add some pork short ribs to the mix, this is a popular variation in Italy.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.