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Published November 1, 2019. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Learn how to make this classic pasta e Fagioli soup recipe packed with beans, pasta, veggies, and pancetta for the perfect fall meal.
No, this is not the olive garden’s version of pasta e Fagioli. This my friends, is the real deal and much simpler in flavor and ingredients.
How Do You Pronounce Pasta Fagioli?
First thing’s first, how do you pronounce it? Pasta e Fagioli translates from Italian to English as “pasta and beans,” and literally, that’s exactly what it is. It is pronounced as “pah-sta eh faj-o-le“
What Is the Difference Between This and Minestrone?
There are several differences between pasta Fagioli and minestrone, but here are the most notable:
- Pasta Fagioli – is a simple pasta and beans stew with some tomatoes that are thick in nature and can sometimes include onions, celery, and carrots.
- Minestrone – this is a loaded vegetable soup with legumes, green vegetables, root vegetables, and stock and often times is a base to other Italian soups where you add in proteins. This is more complex with a lot more ingredients.
Both soups are different in flavor and both are worth a make during the cold winter months.
Using Dried Beans Instead of Canned
When it comes to using beans in this recipe I always prefer to use dry beans. They have more flavor and I can control the texture with how much I cook it. For example, canned beans are overdone already so when you cook them, they turn into mush. Beans should have texture and plenty of shape when cooking and eating.
The most classic bean to use in a pasta Fagioli is a borlotti bean but those are hard to find here in the United States, which is why I used a fantastic alternate in Bob’s Red Mill Cannellini Beans. It’s a great Italian bean and will be perfect in this soup.
Add your beans to a container and add cold water until it is 4” over the top of the beans and let sit overnight. Simple drain, rinse and use!
If you’re pressed for time, add the beans to a container and then add boiling hot water over the top of the beans until they are covered by 4”. Let sit for 1 hour, drain, rinse and use!
I used a combination of borlotti and cannellini beans just to add more delicious bean flavor to the mix!
How to Make the Best Pasta Fagioli
1. Add some medium diced up pancetta bacon to a large pot over medium heat in a small amount of olive oil and cook until they are crisp and browned and then set aside.
2. In the same pot over medium heat, add the medium diced onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables are tender.
3. Next, add in the garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes or just until cooked.
4. Add in the crushed san Marzano tomatoes, along with the drained beans, chicken stock, and parmesan rinds and cook over low heat for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender. I used whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes that I crushed with my hands and juice but you can just use the tomatoes if you are wanting the pasta Fagioli soup to be more of a broth base and less tomatoey.
5. Add about 2-3 cups of the pasta Fagioli ingredients along with ½ cup of the chicken stock from the soup to a blender and blend, with the center part of the blender top removed so that it does not explode, and puree until smooth.
6. Pour the blended soup back into the soup pot and mix it in to help thicken it up. If you want your pasta Fagioli to be really thick, simply mix in a slurry which is 3 tablespoons of corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water.
7. Finish the pasta Fagioli with fresh chopped parsley, rosemary, salt and pepper, and the crisp-cooked pancetta.
8. Serve the pasta Fagioli with cooked homemade pasta or a boiled classic ditalini pasta with parmesan cheese and herbs. I oftentimes reserve a few of the crisp-cooked pancetta lardons to garnish with as well.
What Goes With It?
Pasta e Fagioli can be served as a first-course soup or even as an entrée, which is how it was originally eaten in Italy. Here are a few things it goes really with:
Do not feel limited from this selection of things that go well with this, feel free to get creative. Just note that this is quite filling so the sides should be light.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make this recipe up to 1 day ahead of time. Keep the pasta noodles cooked separately.
How to Reheat: To reheat the pasta Fagioli simply add your desired portion to a small saucepot and heat over low heat until hot. You can also simply add your desired portion to a microwave-safe bowl and heat until hot.
How to Store: This will hold well in the refrigerator covered up for up to 4 days. It will also freeze well covered for up to 3 months. Simply pull it out as you need it and reheat following the directions above.
CHEF NOTES + TIPS
- I like to cook the pasta separately and add the desired portion to a bowl along with the soup. The reason I do this is that pasta will keep cooking in the soup and eventually turn to mush if I let it sit.
- If I cook the pasta separately and hold it in the refrigerator in a plastic bag coated in olive oil, it will never be overcooked. It will allow me to let the soup sit for a day or two while it becomes more flavorful as the ingredients infuse.
More Soup recipes
Pasta e Fagioli Soup Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces medium diced pancetta bacon
- 1 medium diced white onion
- 4 medium diced stalks of celery
- 4 peeled medium diced carrots
- 4 finely minced cloves of garlic
- 28 ounce can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 cup cannellini beans soaked overnight in cold water
- 1 cup of borlotti beans soaked overnight in cold water
- 3 quarts chicken stock
- 2 parmesan cheese rinds
- 1 tablespoon each finely minced fresh rosemary and parsley
- 1 pound of ditalini pasta, cooked and cooled
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- grated parmesan for garnish
- Add the olive oil to a large pot over medium heat and cook the pancetta until browned and crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove the cooked pancetta and set it aside. Add in the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over low to medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.
- Mix in the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding in the tomatoes, beans, stock, and rinds and cook for 45 minutes until the beans are tender.
- Take 3 cups of the soup ingredients plus a ½ cup of the chicken stock and add to a blender and blend on high until it forms a thick paste.
- Add the bean paste back to the soup pot and mix it in.
- Finish the soup with herbs, salt, and pepper.
- Serve the soup with some cooked pasta, freshly grated parmesan cheese, herbs, and more crisp-cooked pancetta.