Pasta e Fagioli Soup
on Jan 30, 2023
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Fragrant with garlic, rosemary and oregano, this pasta e fagioli soup is perfect for a chilly day when you want to turn soup into a meal. Pasta and beans make it a very hearty dish that takes 30 minutes to cook.
Table of Contents
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This version is vegetarian. You usually find pasta e fagioli has pancetta or ground beef. Here I skip meat, and the soup still has tons of flavor from fresh minced garlic and a mix of dried spices.
The soup simmers in just 15-20 minutes. It is a simple recipe that relies on convenient pantry ingredients such as canned beans and canned tomatoes.
It is a make-ahead, freezer friendly soup. My biggest tip is to cook the pasta separately from the soup. Then when you warm leftovers you can add the pasta, so it doesn’t get soggy. Not simmering the pasta in the broth gives you more serving options in terms of timing and dietary preferences.
What is Pasta e Fagioli?
The name of this soup means “pasta and beans” in Italian. Recipes vary depending on the region, but the essential ingredients include beans, onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, garlic and spices. It can be made with or without meat.
This is what you need:
- Beans: As it is written, the recipe calls for 2 cans of cannellini beans, but you can use navy beans, great northern beans, borlotti beans, red kidney beans or a combination. You can also substitute with chickpeas to make pasta e ceci soup. Always drain beans and rinse them off when you are getting them out of the can.
- Onions, carrots & celery are the base for countless soups and stews including this one. This trio of vegetables sautés before you add the beans, broth and tomatoes.
- Tomatoes: I love chunks of tomatoes, so I use a large can of diced tomatoes.
- Spices: The soup is seasoned with dried rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Garlic: I include 3 minced garlic cloves. If you’re a big fan of garlic, don’t hesitate to add another clove to amp up the garlic taste.
- Vegetable broth: Use low-sodium vegetable broth, so you can control the seasonings. If you don’t mind if the soup is not vegetarian, then you can substitute with chicken broth or beef broth.
- Pasta: Small tubular shapes such as ditalini pasta, pennette or even elbows are all great options. You can use small shells such as cavatelli too.
- Olive oil is needed for sautéing the onions, carrots and celery.
- Parsley: I sprinkle the soup with chopped fresh herbs once it is spooned into bowls.
- Parmesan: Be generous with topping each bowl of soup with finely grated Parmesan. You can leave out the cheese to make the soup vegan.
How To Make Pasta e Fagioli Soup
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
2. Sauté the onions, carrots and celery until they start to soften and become tender, about 4 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
4. Pour in the liquid ingredients including the vegetable broth and tomatoes as well as the beans.
5. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until it reduces a bit, about 15-20 minutes.
6. Cook the pasta until al dente while the soup simmers.
7. To serve, spoon pasta into the bottoms of the bowls. Then ladle in the soup.
8. Garnish with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.
Optional Step: Mashing Beans into the Soup
If you want the soup to turn out thicker with fewer whole beans, save a half-cup of beans rather than putting all of them into the pot to simmer. When the soup is ready, puree the reserved beans with 1 cup of mostly broth in a blender. Then pour it back into the pot.
Because this soup has pasta and beans, it is very filling. I love serving it with a salad such as an Italian Chopped Salad, a simple Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette or a Brussels Sprout Caesar Salad. You can also keep it to just soup and a hunk of good bread on the side.
Leftovers and Storing
Store the soup and pasta in separate airtight containers. You can keep them in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Warm the soup on the stove. Add the pasta in the last minute of simmering. If you add it too soon, the pasta will be too soft. You can also warm the soup in the microwave.
You can freeze the soup up to 1 month. Do not freeze the pasta. Make more pasta when you are planning to thaw and warm your leftovers.
You can freeze the soup, but make sure there is no pasta in the broth. If you freeze the pasta with the soup, the noodles will become mushy. When you are ready to thaw and eat the soup, make a new batch of pasta.
If you are planning to serve and eat the entire pot of soup at once, then you can simmer the pasta in the soup. I prefer keeping them separate because then you don’t risk the pasta sitting in the soup too long and losing its al dente bite.
Often this soup is made with pancetta or ground beef, but you can make it without meat like this version of the recipe.
More Soup Recipes
Did you make this soup recipe? Please leave a rating and comment below. Thanks!
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2-15 ounce can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup dried small tubular pasta or small shells ditalini, pennette, or cavatelli
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Finely grated Parmesan for serving
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, carrots and celery until they start to soften, about 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic, rosemary, oregano, salt and pepper, cooking until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, beans and vegetable broth. Bring the soup to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 15-20 minutes until the soup reduces slightly.
- While the soup is simmering, cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and rinse it with cold water, so the noodles do not stick together.
- To serve, put the desired amount of pasta into a bowl. Ladle in the soup and garnish with chopped parsley and Parmesan.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Originally published December 27, 2013. Updated: January 30, 2023.