by Zaira


(4 servings)


  • 250 g Amio borlotti (kidney) beans
  • 250 g fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 300 g very ripe tomatoes (about 4 medium-sized tomatoes)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 tbs extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs sweet paprika powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 bunches of fresh parsley

(*note: point 1 and point 2 can be done the day before cooking)

  1. Soak the dried beans in water the night before cooking for about 10-12 hours. Rinse and pour them in a pot with 1 liter and 250 ml of cold water (500 ml for 100 g of beans). Bring to the boil and cook at low heat, with the lid on, for about one hour (if you use a pressure cooker, half an hour will be enough).
  2. Drain the beans but keep the cooking water aside.
  3. Peel the garlic cloves and wash them together with rosemary, mince them finely and pour them in a high-sided pot with olive oil.
  4. Wash the tomatoes and cut them into pieces.
  5. Briefly sauté garlic and rosemary, then add tomatoes. Cook at medium heat, mixing once in a while for about 25 minutes to obtain a sauce.
  6. Add paprika, cumin and salt.
  7. Add the beans and 300 ml of their cooking water, which you have kept aside.
  8. Cook at low heat for 30 minutes without the lid on, mixing once in a while, until the soup becomes creamy.
  9. Serve hot and garnish with some fresh parsley.

You can still feel time in our Grandmothers’ kitchen. They have always cooked, every single day, as a duty to carry out more than a need and a pleasure to taste. It was a long, silent time in which they patiently waited for rising, boiling, browning, drying… What does food contain, apart from its taste? Other than time, it once contained patience, effort, dedication and love, the invisible ingredient.
I saw fragments of pots – cheap pottery which they used every single day for their whole life, black as the smoke they had to bear – reappearing as forgotten finds in the darkness of dusty cupboards, after being forgotten for centuries.

The soul of things – even the most inanimate ones – sometimes seems almost tangible. They can kindle memories of wrinkled hands warming up at crackling fireplaces while mixing inexpensive but nutritious dishes.

The great patience they put in slow cooking was repaid by a few minutes of enthusiasm and sharing around old worn-out tables which had suffered any kind of thing. After working for a long day in the fields, they could forget their strain there, around the fireplace, the heart of a humble home.

It is remembering that make things precious. The right time – what is needed – to make them happen. I choose to cook slowly, to honor the pot which once saw my Great-grandmother ‘s grave profile proudly watching what was happening inside of it.
Gushes of tomato and the scent of minced rosemary are only an excuse to match the already rich taste of borlotti beans, which will slowly turn into a creamy soup with Mediterranean flavors, hot and spicy.

Time dilates, the slow simmering of the soup becomes a new rhythm which carries me back in time, amongst the secrets of old kitchens and strong but delicate hands which could transform ingredients in simple daily joys.

I'm Zaira Zarotti,

Photographer and Visual Storyteller, author of the blog The Freaky Table.

To me, the ephemeral beauty of daily simple things, amongst which food certainly plays an important role, are the pretext for personal soul searching and a visual study. Food is sustenance, but it's also culture and it represents us much more than we can imagine. To me, there is no limit to imagination when pulses in the kitchen are concerned. Today, even more then in the past, legumes are the ethic proteinic response to everyone's food needs, without wastage of massive resources for the benefit of few. They hold memories of ancient wisdom and new buds of awareness. They represent a sustainable and respectful future.. and the Earth is grateful.