This authentic Pasta e Fagioli Soup is so NOT your average Olive Garden recipe. In fact, when we went to Italy last month our chef for our cooking class said that Olive Garden wasn't even Italian food! Italian Pasta and Beans also known in the United States as "pasta fazool" is a hearty soup packed with veggies, small pasta, fava beans or chickpeas, and perfect for a chilly night that the whole family will love!
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An EASY Pasta e Fagioli Soup Recipe
After returning from our trip in Italy, I am simply INSPIRED to cook authentic Italian dishes that we tried there and hopefully inspire YOU to make them at home. I actually ordered a bowl of Pasta e Fagioli from a trattoria (a small family owned restaurant) that was -chef's kiss perfection- plus it packed a bit of heat too! I couldn't wait to get back home to make a similar version!
A traditional pasta e fagioli recipe consists of the trifecta of carrots, onion, and celery slowly sautéed in olive oil. Plus some ditalini pasta, zucchini, and a parmesan rind... pretty much all of the favorites in this warming soup.
I developed this recipe with canned beans in mind as I am focused on sticking to pantry staples and your wallet in mind with my recipes! As I mentioned above, I used fava beans here as that is the most traditional to this classic italian soup but feel free to swap in great northern beans, chickpeas,or cannellini beans. Pretty much an easy pantry staple recipe here!
What you'll Need
- olive oil - a small amount to saute the sofrito.
- sofrito - the finely minced carrots, onion, and celery - basically the Italian trifecta base of most soups and sauces!
- vegetable broth - any will do, just grab your favorite or use homemade!
- crushed tomatoes - the consistence is just perfect for this soup
- fava beans - this is the MOST traditional way to make pasta e fagioli and I love the texture it brings here. But see below for substitutions.
- kale or spinach - for adding extra greens to this recipe (I personally think kale works best here, but your the boss!
- lemon juice - just a splash at the end for some light acidity!
How to make the BEST Pasta Fagioli
We start off with slowly sautéing the sofrito ( the Italian trifecta of carrots, onion, and celery) in a Dutch Oven (or large pot) until softened and browned on medium heat. Next we add a bit of fresh garlic for aromatics.
Stir in the vegetable broth, zucchini, beans, and spices (including the red pepper flakes).
Next (super important) is to add in a parmesan rind (the end piece to a wedge of parmesan) and the bay leaves... it really helps add a depth of flavor to a lot of soups and sauces I make. I like to save parmesan rinds in the freezer to throw in whenever I am whipping up some soup!
Now you have 2 options on the pasta depending on your preferences:
- You can cook the pasta in the soup for the remaining 9-10 minutes
- Or MY preferred method is to cook the pasta separately. This ensures the pasta is cooked to al dente and not over cooked PLUS if there is anyone you are serving this soup to who is gluten-free or low carb then it gives you the flexibility to serve both! This step is so easy to do while the soup cooks!
Allow the soup to simmer for about 10-15 more minutes. Stir in your favorite wintry greens ( I love kale or collards here!). Serve with crusty bread, a bit of fresh torn basil leaves, and a little extra parmesan!
Now PAY ATTENTION - here is the KEY to this recipe. Take a few ladle fulls (about 3 cups worth and make sure you get as many beans as you can) in a blender and blend until smooth. Then mix it back in with the rest of the soup in the pot. Blending a portion of this rustic soup gives is the best part IMO. I love a creamy soup but I also wanted the textures of the veggies and pasta too! This way you get BOTH.
Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle some extra parmesan cheese on top!
You can easily store this soup in an airtight container for up to 5 days
Both are FANTASTIC classic Italian soup choices. The main difference is that pasta e fagioli has beans that are typically mashed or blended creating a thicker soup vs minestrone which is traditionally very brothy.
It can for sure! Some versions of this soup contain pancetta or even italian sausage at the base of the soup. I purposely made this version vegetarian as I am always and forever trying to eat more plants in attempts to better my gut health and get more fiber in! Read here on all things gut health!
Honestly the perfect meal to whip up in between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's simple, hearty, great flavor, and healthy too! I know some of you will be hosting family and need some quick yet wholesome recipe ideas for the holidays and days leading up to and after Christmas. Who knew what is considered as "peasant dish" could be so tasty and perfect for the entire family???
Made this recipe and loved it?! We would love it if you would take a minute and leave a star rating and review – it is also helpful if you made any substitutions or changes to the recipe to share that as well. THANK YOU!