The Italians have graced us with countless delicious recipes. I’ve loved pizza and spaghetti for as long as I can remember, of course, but I’ve only recently discovered pasta e fagioli.
Pasta e fagioli translates to “pasta and beans.” Pasta and beans may not sound terribly enticing (unless you’re me), but I assure you that this Italian stew is truly irresistible.
Lots of aromatics, crushed tomatoes, fresh parsley and Tuscan kale turn pasta and beans into a hearty meal-in-a-bowl situation. I can’t claim that this recipe is 100 percent authentic, but it’s the best I can do.
If you appreciate homemade minestrone soup, marinara, lasagna or baked ziti, I think you’ll love this stew. It’ll warm you right up on cold days, and tastes even better the next day.
I designed this pasta e fagioli recipe to make use of canned beans, so this stew is ready in about an hour! I bet you have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already. It’s an excellent candidate for a relaxed weeknight.
How to Make the Best Pasta e Fagioli
How do we turn basic ingredients into something magical? The trick is in the method. You’ll find the full recipe below, but here’s a rundown with some extra reasoning behind it:
- First, we’ll cook chopped onion, celery and carrot in olive oil until tender. We won’t cook them long enough to form a true soffritto, but they form the backbone of flavor in this dish nonetheless.
- Then, we’ll add garlic and cook just long enough to take the edge off (there’s nothing worse than burnt garlic flavor, and it’ll have plenty of time to continue cooking as we simmer the soup). Next, add crushed tomatoes and let them come to a healthy simmer—I’m convinced cooking canned tomatoes turns them from tinny to vibrant.
- We’ll pour in one quart of vegetable broth and a few cups water. The water adds volume without additional sodium. We’re cooking the pasta in the liquid, so we need plenty of it, but I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll season the soup with bay leaves, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes, and cook for ten minutes to bring it all together.
- I want to say that the blending step is optional (and if you don’t have a blender, you can certainly skip it), but—this step is what produces the luscious, creamy-yet-cream-less texture you see here. All we do is scoop out some of the hot liquid and blend it with a portion of the beans. Pour it back in, and your soup has been transformed.
- Almost done! We’ll add the remaining beans, plus the pasta, kale and parsley. We’ll cook until the pasta and kale are tender.
- The final step, once we’ve removed the soup from the heat, is to add even more flavor with a tablespoon each of fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Taste it before and after (carefully!) and you’ll understand what a difference this makes.
Watch How to Make Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta e Ceci Variation
Pasta e ceci means “pasta and chickpeas.” This dish is just the same as pasta e fagioli, but uses chickpeas specifically for the bean component. Give it a try by making this recipe with chickpeas!
Craving more soups?
If you love this recipe, you’ll also enjoy:
- Classic Minestrone Soup
- The Best Lentil Soup
- Seriously Good Vegetable Soup
- Homemade Vegetarian Chili
- Quinoa Vegetable Soup with Kale
Please let me know how your pasta e fagioli turns out in the comments. I’m always so happy to hear from you.
Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Beans)
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6 bowls 1x
- Category: Stew
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Pasta e fagioli means “pasta and beans” in Italian—this recipe is much more than that! This hearty vegetarian stew is full of irresistible fresh flavor. It’s vegan, too, as long as you don’t top it with cheese. Recipe yields 6 bowls or 8 cups of soup.
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium-to-large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, scrubbed clean, finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes*
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, omit if sensitive to spice
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, Great Northern beans, or chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups cooked beans)
- 1 cup (about 4 ounces) cavatelli, ditalini, elbow or small shell pasta of choice
- 2 cups chopped Tuscan kale (tough ribs removed first), or chard or collard greens
- ¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about ½ medium lemon)
- Optional garnishes: Additional chopped parsley, black pepper, grated Parmesan cheese or light drizzle of olive oil
- In a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and about 10 twists of black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent, about 6 to 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, stir, and cook until the tomatoes are bubbling all over. Add the broth, water, bay leaves, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and reducing the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Use a heat-safe measuring cup to transfer about 1 ½ cups of the soup (avoiding the bay leaves) to a blender. Add about ¾ cup of the drained beans. Securely fasten the lid and blend until completely smooth, being careful to avoid hot steam escaping from the lid. Pour the blended mixture back into the soup.
- Add the remaining beans, pasta, kale and parsley to the simmering soup. Continue cooking, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot, for about 20 minutes, or until the pasta and greens are pleasantly tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat, then remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Taste and season with more salt (I usually add another ¼ teaspoon) and pepper until the flavors really sing. Garnish bowls of soup as desired, and serve.
- Leftovers taste even better the next day. Allow leftover soup to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Or, freeze leftover soup in individual portions and defrost as necessary.
Recipe adapted from my minestrone recipe, with reference to Bon Appétit (and their comments section!).
*Tomato recommendation: I always use Muir Glen tomatoes, and used their fire-roasted crushed tomatoes since they don’t offer plain.
Make it gluten free: Use a small, sturdy, gluten-free noodle, such as a corn and quinoa blend.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Don’t add cheese. Simple as that.
If you don’t have a stand blender: You can use an immersion blender to blend (carefully) a portion of the liquid with the beans in a separate (heat-safe) container. Or, skip this step altogether. Your soup will be a little more chunky and less creamy, but still very good.
Shirley Pastore McCormack
Every Italian and Italian-American family has their own version of what we pronounce as “pasta fa zool.”
I’ve never puréed the beans – that’s a great idea! Red kidney beans have skins that are too thick IMHO. A strong vote for cannellini and cece’s.
Thanks for sharing this. An easy dish, it’s even better the next day – with a hunk of Italian bread for dipping.
Does one bowl of this soup have 1267.8 mg of sodium?
Hi Mary! More on my Nutrition Disclaimer.
Hi Mary, I use low sodium Celtic Sea Salt and a low or no sodium vegetable bouillon. I was able to adjust the salt at the end, definitely not overpowering.
Thank you Nat!
I generally cook my pasta on the side when making soups to avoid them from getting mushy but followed the directions and the pasta cooked perfectly! I used one can of cannellini and one can chickpeas and substituted spinach for the kale. I did not blend the beans but simmered longer than the recipe suggested. It was delicious and will definitely be a make again.
This soup is wonderful! I wondered while I was making it if the seasoning was going to be enough but I stuck to the recipe and it was perfect! Thanks for another great one Kate!!
You’re welcome, Marjorie!
As usual Kate has a winning recipe. Tastes better than the soup I had in Florence and that was some good soup! I followed the recipe exactly. I love the red pepper flakes for flavor and definitely recommend blending a portion of the liquid and beans.
Loved this dish! So flavorful & easy to make. Thanks for sharing this with us :)
I made a week ago and we couldn’t wait to get it in rotation for the next bowl. I thought I had the best recipe for Pasta e fagioli but this beats it hands down. Thanks, always good to improve my menu options.
This soup is awesome! I loved using the cannellini beans and used fresh spinach, which I added to the soup with 5 minutes to go, since it is more tender than kale. Even my meat-loving husband gives this recipe a thumbs up and ate 2 bowls!
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Paula! Thank you for sharing.
Delicious ! Added a good portion of shaved parmesan to serve. Another winner ! Thanks Kate.
What’s you opinion on pressure cooking soup? Do you feel the long cooking time at lower temperature is necessary to meld the flavors? I made your minestrone in a pressure cooker and was happy with the result. Am I missing something by not cooking on the stove?
I don’t have a recipe for it, sorry! I recommend this recipe as written.
I love this recipe and make it often during the cold winter months because it is so healthy and hearty. My question is: does the bayleaf always head for the cup to be scooped out and put in the blender? There’s a whole pot of soup for it to hang out in, but no, it heads straight for the cup every time.
You will want to make sure it isn’t blended. You can always pull it out.
The numbers in the instructions do not scale if you scale the recipe using the buttons.
I’m sorry to hear you are disappointed. Unfortunately, the tool only does the ingredients. Be sure to double everything and use similar cooking times. Use your best judgement on time if you need more for the quantity.
Kimberlee A Rettberg
Looking for low sodium soup recipe.
Can I make this in a crock-pot?
I recommend this as written. I believe others have tried it. Be sure to wait to add the noodles until the end of cooking.
how can I make this in the
It is absolutely fantastic. So much flavour!! My carnivore husband ate two bowls. I offered parmesan but without that it is actually Vegan! So tasty..the only change was only one cup of water intead of 3 cups. Keeping this one!!!
That’s great to hear, Rosaria!
Anna B McNeese
I used garbanzo beans and pureed the whole lot minus the bay leaves. I doubled the lemon juice. We enjoyed the flavor, but I wish I had pureed the garbanzo beans more as they were kinda grainy. I also used spaghetti noodles as I didn’t have the others like I thought I did when I started. I’d give my version a 3.5 and a 5 for taste.
Made this exactly as written, except I had some extra veggie broth to use up so I used all broth instead of broth and water but still used 7 cups total. Another smash hit, absolutely delicious! Kate’s recipes are the only ones I trust 100% as she writes them, they are always perfect. Also Kate, so sorry to hear about Cookie, but she was so lucky to have you as her mom! :)
Thank you, Katie. I’m glad you loved it.