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Authentic Pasta e Fagioli Soup

This traditional pasta e fagioli recipe (commonly referred to as pasta fazool) was passed down from a native Italian. Made with cannellini beans, pancetta, pasta, and rosemary, this soup is comfort food at its finest, and my family's favorite meal.

Pasta e fagioli in a white bowl with toasted bread and sprigs of rosemary

Related recipe: White Lasagna with Ground Chicken and Spinach

There are only a few meals that my whole family gets really excited about. I'm not talking about a lackluster "yum," but rather a jumping up and down, arms thrown around my waist, screaming "You're the best mom/wife EVER!" sort of excited.

Pasta e fagioli (which means "Pasta and beans" in Italian) is one of those dinners.

If you've had pasta e fagioli at the Olive Garden, you'll find that this recipe is quite a bit different. Sorry, Olive Garden lovers.

This traditional Italian pasta e fagioli recipe is not tomato based, nor does it contain carrots, celery or ground beef.

Related recipe: Italian Wedding Soup

Bowl of pasta e fagioli on a tray with rosemary and crusty bread

This pasta e fagioli has a combination of small pasta shells, cannellini beans, pancetta and rosemary, which gives it an earthy, smoky flavor that's to die for.

And it MUST be served with crusty bread, so that you can soak up every last drop of the thick, delicious broth.

Related recipe: Cheesy Pasta Bake

Pasta Fagioli ingredients include fresh rosemary, garlic, and small pasta shells

What makes this recipe a little different than others is that the bulk of the ingredients are pureed. This gives it an amazingly creamy texture (despite being dairy free).

When I first started making pasta e fagioli, I based it on a recipe from someone's Italian grandfather.

More hearty soup recipes: 12 Dinner Soups to Try

Cheese grater with block of fresh parmesan cheese

Over the years I've pared it down to the essentials and learned to make pasta e fagioli as simply as possible without sacrificing any of the flavor.

Shortcuts & Substitutions:

  • If you own an immersion blender, you can save time by blending the soup right in the pot instead of transferring it to a blender.
  • Pasta substitution: Typically I use small shells in my pasta e fagioli, but you can substitute ditalini, macroni, small oriechiette, or any other type of small noodle.
  • You can substitute bacon for pancetta in pasta e fagioli. And if you want to make a vegetarian version of the soup, omit the pancetta and add a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika instead (it mimics the smoky flavor).
  • Dried rosemary can be used in place of fresh rosemary. Use 1 teaspoon dried.

Thickening/Thinning the Broth:

If you find that the soup is getting too thick as the pasta cooks, feel free to add a little more broth or water. It's supposed to be thick, but you want it to still be soupy.

Conversely, if it seems a little too watery, just let it sit on the stove (with the burner off) for a bit. The pasta will thicken it up over time.

Related recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

What to Serve with Pasta e Fagioli:

In case you missed it the first time, you must, MUST serve this soup with crusty bread. I'm not messing around about this.

It's also delicious paired with a simple balsamic vinaigrette salad or a caprese salad made with fresh tomatoes, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella.

A glass of red wine is also highly recommended. :)

Related recipe: Rosemary & Garlic White Beans

Pasta e Fagioli with grated parmesan cheese melted on top

Authentic Pasta e Fagioli

This traditional recipe for Pasta e Fagioli (pasta fazool) is simple comfort food at its finest (and nutritious to boot).
4.72 from 277 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 548kcal
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 3 15 oz cans cannellini beans
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 oz pancetta or approx 4 slices bacon diced
  • 2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ¾ cups small pasta shells uncooked
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • crushed red pepper flakes optional
  • parmesan cheese optional

Instructions

  • Drain ONE can of beans, and set aside.
  • In a large soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and pancetta and saute until onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and saute about 4 additional minutes.
  • Transfer sauteed ingredients to a blender or food processor and add the two other cans of beans (liquid included). Puree until smooth.
  • Add the pureed mixture back into the pot, along with the drained beans, the chicken and beef broth, salt, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, remove from heat.
  • Taste, and add more salt if necessary.
  • Serve, topped with red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, if you like.

Video

Notes

If you're watching your salt, start with 1 teaspoon salt and work up from there.
You may find that the soup gets a little too thick as the pasta cooks. If so, just add some more broth or water to thin it out.

Nutrition

Calories: 548kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 2532mg | Potassium: 471mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 105IU | Vitamin C: 15.5mg | Calcium: 204mg | Iron: 7.5mg

If you make this recipe, please come back and tell me what you think. Hopefully your family will love it as much as mine does.

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Recipe Rating




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Psadie

Sunday 28th of January 2024

Excellent every time I make it it's devoured. Plain and simple does it without the carrots etc that isn't the real pasta fagioli. Wonderful hearty flavor with the chicken and beef broth.

Lisa

Sunday 7th of January 2024

Just the best ever pasta fagioli omg everyone loved! My go to! I wish I could post pic here, but doesn't matter.. 😊😊

Jana

Monday 11th of December 2023

My family really enjoys this. Made it for an ailing neighbor as well and she requested recipe too. It’s a yum yum from us!

Marika

Thursday 30th of November 2023

Thank you for this recipe, this is exactly how I remember it growing up and it's a winter staple now!

Karin G.

Wednesday 29th of November 2023

This is by far the closest to home made !!! Recipe is bookmarked !!!!

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