This pasta fagioli recipe (pasta and beans soup) is made with canned white beans, pasta, and veggies for a fast and hearty Italian soup singing with flavor.
I can’t stop making soups. Recipes like my Grandma’s minestrone, tomato basil soup, and my favorite broccoli cheddar soup, are all staples I have in my rotation, but there’s a newbie to the bunch—this Pasta Fagioli. In Italy, it’s called “pasta e fagioli” (pasta and beans) and features small pasta—usually ditalini—and yep, you guessed it, beans. There are lots of different iterations of Pasta Fagioli out there. Some versions have more veggies than others, some have greens, some do not, some have tomatoes and others don’t. I’ve read that in Tuscany some cooks purée the beans to thicken the soup while in the north they’re left whole. Traditional versions use dried beans, but because time can get tight, canned beans are a true timesaver. I keep my Pasta Fagioli simple in execution but big on flavor, adding rosemary, fennel seed, and a kiss of red pepper flakes.
What’s in This Pasta Fagioli
This pasta fagioli is made with lots of pantry staples (onion, garlic, tomato paste, beans), and is layered with so much flavor. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Pancetta (you could also use smoked bacon)
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fennel seed
- Red pepper flakes
- Tomato paste
- Chicken stock or chicken broth
- Bay leaf
- Canned cannellini beans (or great northern beans), or homemade cannellini beans
- Kale (either curly or Tuscan)
- Parmesan rind and shredded Parmesan cheese
- Ditalini pasta (you could also use elbow macaroni)
How to Make Pasta Fagioli
This pasta fagioli soup recipe comes together easily on the stovetop. Traditional versions call for dried beans soaked overnight, but you can use canned beans to save time in the kitchen. Here’s how to make this pasta fagioli:
- Cook the pancetta. Cook the pancetta in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, until slightly crispy.
- Sauté the sofrito. Give your onion a headstart (I like to cook it for 10 minutes before adding the other veggies). Then add the carrots, celery, and fennel. Sauté, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
- Add the seasonings. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and fennel, followed by the tomato paste, cooking the mixture for a minute or two to caramelize and lose that raw flavor.
Simmer then Soup it Up
- Simmer for the flavors to mingle. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, beans, kale, and Parmesan rind, and increase heat to medium-high then drop to a rolling simmer. Top it with a partially covered lid and cook for 20 minutes.
- Cook the pasta. While the soup is simmering, cook your pasta. You can do this one of two ways: Directly in the soup like I have here, or in a separate pot. Just note that if you cook the pasta directly in the soup, it will absorb a good amount of broth over time and you will likely need to add more liquid if refrigerating or serving later.
- Finish with more flavor. To finish the soup, stir in a knob of butter (this adds a bit of richness). Top each serving of soup with some freshly grated (or shaved) Parmesan and more Parmesan cheese.
Pasta Fagioli FAQs
- How do Italians say fagioli? “Fagioli” is pronounced “faa-jow-lee.”
- What is the difference between fagioli and minestrone? The difference between fagioli and minestrone is fagioli is made with fewer veggies, and minestrone doesn’t always include beans.
- What is a fazool? “Fazool” is a slang term for fagioli.
Pasta Fagioli Variations
Because there is such a diverse range of pasta fagioli recipes out there, this is a versatile recipe—make it how you want it! Here are some ideas for swaps or additions:
- Use bacon instead of pancetta (or omit the meat and use vegetable broth to make the soup vegetarian)
- This would also be yummy with Italian sausage instead of pancetta or bacon
- Try it with dried cannellini beans cooked this way
- Purée half of the beans before adding to the soup (if you’d like a thicker texture)
- Use spinach instead of kale, or skip it entirely
- For a stronger tomato flavor, add some canned plum tomatoes (drained, and crushed with your hands)
- Add a bit of dried oregano if you like
What to Serve with Pasta Fagioli
- Killer Garlic Knots
- The BEST Garlic Bread
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
- Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
- Kale Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans Soup)
- 4 oz diced pancetta
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , divided
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 carrots , chopped
- 2 ribs of celery , chopped
- ½ cup chopped fennel bulb
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon fennel seed , crushed to release oils
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt , divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary , finely chopped, plus more for serving
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 ounces tomato paste , about ¼ cup
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 15 ounce cans cannellini beans , drained and rinsed
- 2 cups kale , slivered
- 1 inch chunk Parmesan rind
- 6 ounces uncooked ditalini pasta
- 1 tablespoon butter
- grated Parmesan cheese , for serving
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot, cook the pancetta on medium-low for about 7 minutes or until tender-crisp. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and set aside leaving the rendered fat in the pot. Increase the heat to medium and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and chopped fennel. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Crush the fennel seeds between your fingers and add to the pot with the garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste so it coats the vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind, bring to a boil then reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and cook covered partially with a lid for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans, reserved pancetta, and kale, and cook until the beans are warmed through and the kale has wilted.
- Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaf then serve with more fresh rosemary and shaved or grated Parmesan.
More Italian Soups to Try
- Cioppino Seafood Stew
- Sausage and Gnocchi Soup
- Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup
- Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna Soup
- My Grandma’s BEST Minestrone Soup
- Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Kale
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