Pasta e Fagioli


A soup of many names, Pasta e Fagioli, Pasta Fagioli, or Pasta Fazool, this classic Italian soup of beans and short pasta with tomatoes and vegetables is a classic favorite.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Pasta Fagioli – an Italian Staple

Pasta e fagioli, or just pasta 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.

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

Variations of Pasta Fagioli

It’s also a dish of a thousand variations. Some cooks make a pasta e fagioli that’s 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 soup in bowl

My Pasta Fagioli

This pasta fagioli 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.

Quick Pasta Fagioli Soup Tip

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. (Also because of the pasta, this soup doesn’t freeze very well.)

Buon appetito!

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Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 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 extra virgin 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 chili 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 freshly cooked beans)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


1 Sauté the vegetables: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, carrot and celery for 2 to 3 minutes, until its soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chili 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.

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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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

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

53 Comments / Reviews

No ImagePasta e Fagioli

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Missy

    Soak the pasta in warm water for about 15 minutes before cooking it. It will absorb all the liquid it can while it soaks, and it’ll stay beautiful in the soup!

    Hat tip to Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe for lasagna, which included the above tip – I translated it into my chicken noodle soup and then on to many more recipes.

    Making this now, can’t wait!

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Randy

    Fantastic, I added a piece of reggiano parm rind for great extra flavor. Only
    One thing to some replying, this a dish is for Lenten or Friday night dinners and is meant to be meatless.

    Show Replies (1)
  3. Linda

    As Laura did, I cooked the pasta separately so was able to freeze the soup for future consumption as I am only cooking for two seniors with small appetites. It Is fantastic when thawed and reheated.


  4. Laura

    I cook the pasta separate and only add it to each serving. That way leftovers keep easier. DELICIOUS!


    Show Replies (1)
  5. Debbie McCarrick

    When we were little it was a given that as soon as the Christmas ham was almost gone my Dad would make Pasta Fazool, (we are Neopolitan based). I cannot imagine having it any other way without a ham broth where the bone has simmered a lengthy time and the remaining bits fall off into the broth. Aside from the chile flakes and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan when serving, this is his recipe. : )

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