Fresh borlotti beans are becoming more and more popular in farmers' markets and specialist Italian delis. You can use good-quality canned or dried for this recipe, but they are not nearly as good in terms of texture. You can make the stock from a ham hock (or if you're in a hurry, just use some ready-diced pancetta and fry it with the onion).
To cook your ham hock, simply place it in a pan of cold water, bring it to the boil and simmer gently for a couple of hours until tender.
150-180g shelled weight of fresh borlotti beans, or the equivalent amount of dried and soaked, or canned
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
A few sprigs of thyme
1.5ltrs ham hock cooking liquid
1 medium leek, halved, cut into rough 1cm squares and washed
150-200g or more of ham hock cut into rough 1cm chunks
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the borlotti beans in a pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil and then simmer for 4-5 minutes, then drain and wash under the cold tap (for dried or canned, follow the package instructions).
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and gently cook the onion for a few minutes until soft but without letting it colour. Add the thyme, leek, cooked borlotti beans and ham cooking liquid, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the beans are tender.
Then add the parsley, simmer for a couple more minutes, re-season if necessary and serve.