Pasta e Fagioli

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Please welcome Hank as he shares a simple Italian classic, pasta e fagioli, or pasta and bean soup! ~Elise

Pasta e fagioli. I knew—and loved—this dish years before I knew how to spell it. Growing up in New Jersey, pasta e fagioli is a staple on every red sauce place’s menu, along with spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, alfredo and cannolis.

Fagioli, aka fazool (which is Neapolitan dialect for the standard Italian word for “beans”), is a peasant dish, a just simple soup of pasta and beans and veggies.

It’s also a dish of a thousand variations. Some cooks’ pasta e fagioli is so thick it’s basically a pasta dish. Some people use so much tomato the fazool looks like a tomato soup with pasta and beans.

Sometimes you’ll see white beans, sometimes borlotti beans (basically the same thing as cranberry beans), and sometimes even kidney beans. Once in a while you’ll see meat, either leftover bits of meatloaf or tiny meatballs, like the ones you see in Italian wedding soup.

Pasta Fagioli

This version is more of a chicken soup with beans and pasta and a little tomato. You can add more tomato if you’d like. I will often drizzle a little good olive oil over the soup at the end, or grate some parmesan cheese over it.

One thing to remember about this soup: Because it has pasta in it, you either need to eat it all at one sitting, or resign yourself to the fact that the pasta will continue to absorb the soup as it rests in the fridge. So the next day it will be thicker, almost like a French potage. Still good, but different.

Buon appetito!

Updated from the recipe archive. First published March, 2013.

Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Ditalini pasta is commonly used for pasta e fagioli, but you can use any short pasta—or you can break up vermicelli into small bits.


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock for vegetarian option
  • 1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 1/2 pound ditalini pasta
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini or borlotti beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 1/2 cups of freshly cooked beans*)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

* To cook the beans from scratch, start with 1 3/4 cups dry beans. Either soak them overnight in water, or cover them with boiling water and let them sit for an hour, then drain. Place the soaked beans in a pot, cover with two inches of water, bring to a simmer, and cook until tender, about an hour.


1 Sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery for 2-3 minutes, until its soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chile flakes and Italian seasoning and sauté another minute.


2 Add stock, tomatoes, pasta: Add the chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and keep the soup at a strong simmer.

pasta-fazool-method-2 pasta-fazool-method-3

3 Add beans, parsley: When the pasta is al dente, add the beans and cook another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the parsley. Add salt and black pepper to taste.


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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank


Pasta Fazool with Meat, from No Recipes

Copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli, from Iowa Girls Eats

A Thicker, Drier Version of Pasta Fagioli, from Dinners for a Year

Showing 4 of 42 Comments

  • Nick Sciorsci

    I have always made pasta e fagioli as a pasta dish rather than a soup adding escarole and sausage for increased depth of flavor.

  • Cathy Nance

    I have made my own version of this soup for years. A tip for the overdone pasta problem: cook the pasta separately. Use a little olive oil to coat the pasta so it doesn’t stick together, & store it in a ziplock bag. You can add the desired amount to the soup when you warm it up.

  • Judy Clark

    I made this soup today with a few tweaks – it is delicious. Just a tip about the pasta absorbing the liquid : make the pasta separately, then add it as you serve it, for perfect results.

  • Wendy

    I would love to make this soup however as I am allergic to
    tomatoes Can I make it without the tomatoes ??????

  • Deborah

    I made this recipe for lunch today, and it was fantastic! Thank you for sharing.

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