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.
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.)
More Easy Soups for Chilly Weather
Pasta e Fagioli Recipe
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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