Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli recipe (Pasta Fazool) is a uniquely cozy, satisfying, astonishingly easy Italian style soup, all simmered in one pot, that your family will treasure forever!

Pasta e Fagioli (“Pasta and Beans”) is a classic Italian dish and the ultimate comfort food that will fill you up, warm you up, and tastes even better the next day. It’s loaded with pasta and beans for a hearty richness, somewhere between a soup and a chili, that will have everyone coming back for seconds and thirds.  This recipe is not 100% authentic, but instead uses easy-to-find ingredients such as juicy Italian sausage, al dente pasta, fresh vegetables and creamy beans in a tomato, herb, Parmesan-infused broth. This Pasta e Fagioli Soup is super versatile, amenable to practically any veggies, pasta or protein!  Serve this recipe up with homemade Caesar Salad and some garlic bread for the ideal cozy feast.

This Pasta Fazool joins a long list of my favorite Italian soup recipes! If you love hearty Italian soups, don’t miss Stuffed Pepper Soup, Zuppa Toscana, Lasagna Soup, Minestrone SoupTomato Basil Soup, or Italian Wedding Soup.

How to Make Pasta Fagioli Video

top view of a bowl of pasta fagioli soup served with crusty bread
up close of a ladle serving pasta e fagioli soup showing how thick it is

Pasta e Fagioli Ingredients 

Hot Italian sausage, pasta, and beans make this soup ultra-hearty and filling, while a medley of chopped vegetables adds texture galore. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to make homemade Pasta e Fagioli Soup (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post): 

  • Pasta: Use a small, short pasta, I recommend ditalini (picture in this recipe).  Ditalini can sometimes be called “short pasta salad pasta.”  I particularly like ditalini not only for the mouthfeel, but because it holds up exceptionally well and doesn’t become mushy as long as it’s not initially overcooked.
  • Beans: Beans are essential for making pasta fasul! I like to use a combination of cannellini beans (also called white kidney beans) and kidney beans for a satisfying depth of texture. Cannellini beans are tender white beans that remain buttery and soft after being cooked in the soup. Kidney beans are mild and pleasant with a slightly nutty taste and an underlying sweetness.
  • Italian sausage: I highly suggest using Italian sausage and not just ground beef because you get meat + flavor. Italian sausage is pre-seasoned with Italian seasonings. See substitutions below.
  • Carrots: You’ll need about two large carrots, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces. The sweet carrots complement the flavorful sausage and tomatoes perfectly. 
  • Celery: Just 3 ribs of celery round out the aromatic sofrito we’re building with the onions and carrots. 
  • Onion: Yellow onions are generally the best cooking onion for their strong but mild flavor and caramelizing sweetness. Maker sure to dice the onion small so the pieces soften quickly.  
  • Garlic: I use 6 garlic cloves but you can use more or less depending on your garlic love. 
  • Parmesan: You’ll need both freshly grated Parmesan and the Parmesan rind for this recipe. The Parmesan rind simmers away in the soup, infusing the Pasta Fazool with its alluring salty, nutty flavor. If you don’t have a rind, then add additional Parmesan to taste.
  • Crushed tomatoes: You will need one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (often called crushed tomatoes in puree). Take care that your crushed tomatoes don’t have any additional seasonings or added salt. The crushed tomatoes add texture and of course full-bodied tomato flavor.  I recommend San Marzano tomatoes from the brands San Marzano, Cento and Muir Glen. They are highly prized for their sweet, intense tomatoey flavor and lower acidity. San Marzano tomatoes are usually sold “whole” so you will want to pour them into a bowl and crush them with your hands or potato masher first.  
  • Fire roasted tomatoes: These are diced tomatoes that have been roasted, which gives them a complex smokiness and removes the acidic bite. Fire roasted tomatoes are located next to the traditional diced tomatoes – just make sure you purchase the ones without any added seasonings. 
  • Chicken broth: Use low sodium chicken broth so the soup isn’t too salty.   I prefer chicken broth over beef broth in this recipe because it adds subtle flavor without overpowering the pasta, beans, vegetables or Parmesan.
  • Herbs and spices: This Pasta e Fagioli Soup is seasoned using a blend of dried basil, thyme, oregano, and parsley. And, of course, salt and pepper!  A pinch of red pepper flakes adds an extra kick if you like heat.
showing how to make pasta fagioli (pasta fazool) in a bowl with bread

Ingredient substituitions

  • Chicken broth: You may use water plus chicken bouillon or chicken base then add salt to taste. You may also use vegetable broth but it isn’t as flavorful.
  • Italian sausage: I love hot Italian sausage for extra flavor, but you may use mild if preferred or ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes: You can use plain diced tomatoes if you can’t locate fire roasted variety, noting you may need to add a pinch of sugar.
  • Onion: Fresh is best, but you may substitute with 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder.
  • Garlic: You may substitute with 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder.
  • Pasta: Any very small pasta shape will work. 

HOW TO MAKE Pasta Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli Soup is a very easy recipe to make, with a little sautéing, then the rest is opening up a few cans and dumping everything into the same pot. Let’s walk through how to make it with step-by-step photos (full printable recipe at the bottom of the post): 

  • Step 1: Brown the sausage and sauté the vegetables. Start by browning the sausage and onions in a large Dutch oven, crumbling the sausage as you go. Once almost cooked through, add the carrots and celery and cook until the onions are tender. Lastly, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until the the vegetables are tender.
showing how to make pasta e fagioli (pasta fazool) by browning sausage in a pot, then sautéing onions, celery and carrots
  • Step 2: Add the tomatoes and herbs. Add the crushed tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, water, Parmesan rind, herbs and spices to the pot. The soup will be very thick at this point, but we’ll thin it out later with broth.
showing how to make pasta fagioli recipe (pasta fazool) by adding crushed tomatoes, Italian seasonings and Parmesan rind to the soup
  • Step 3: Simmer the soup. Cover and simmer the soup for about 10 minutes over low heat to give the ingredients flavors time to build and meld.
  • Step 4: Simmer the broth, beans and pasta. Add the broth and beans to the pot and bring it to a boil.  Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente (don’t overcook!), about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. The soup will still be a little brothy at this point, but it will quickly become more of a chili-like consistency before serving.
showing how to make pasta fagioli recipe (pasta fazool) by adding beans and pasta

Step 5: Add Parmesan. Discard the cheese rind and bay leaf, then sprinkle in freshly grated Parmesan.  Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with additional Parmesan and fresh herbs, if desired. 

showing how to make pasta e fagioli soup (pasta fazool) by stirring in Parmesan cheese
  • If you don’t have a cheese rind: Simply add additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano to the soup to taste.  
  • Use a small pasta shape. As in, very small. Small pasta means you can fit a symphony of flavors and textures onto your spoon at once for the perfect bite! 
  • Pasta cooking time will vary. The cooking time may vary depending on your exact pasta shape and size, your soup pot, and how long it takes to bring your soup to a boil so I suggest checking the pasta occasionally until al dente.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta. Remove the Pasta e Fagioli from heat as soon as the pasta is on the firmer side of al dente because it will continue to cook slightly in the hot pot and soup bowls. If it’s not initially overcooked, it will stay pleasantly textured and not become mushy even when reheated the next day.
  • Cook pasta separately if needed. As written, the pasta cooks in the same pot with the sausage and beans. If you aren’t prepared to babysit your pasta or prefer a brothier soup, you may wish to cook it separately and add to individual bowls.
  • Adjust the consistency as needed. As written, this Pasta Fazool has a rich thickness, closer to the consistency of chili. For a thinner soup, simply add additional broth at the end of cooking, or when reheating leftovers.
  • Scale the recipe. You can halve this recipe if you don’t have a large family and don’t want leftovers. If you do love leftovers (raising my hand high), then you will love leftovers for an easy lunch or dinner because this Pasta Fagioli tastes even better the next day! To scale the recipe, use the slider that appears when you hover over the servings in the recipe card.
top view of pasta e Fagioli recipe garnished with Parmesan and parsley
  • Make it creamy:  Blend an extra can of cannellini beans and add to the soup, or add body by pureeing some of the soup.
  • Pasta e ceci:  This means “pasta and chickpeas,” and is made the same as Pasta e Fagioli, but uses chickpeas instead of the beans in the recipe.  
  • Swap beans:  Use any of your favorites such as all kidney, all cannellini, Great Northern beans, etc.
  • Pasta options:  Use ¾ cup (about 3 ounces) any small pasta if you can’t find ditalini such as tubetti and anelli pasta. In a pinch, you could even use elbow macaroni, but I find it becomes mushy more easily, so you may wish to cook it separately .
  • Leftover pasta: Stir leftover cooked pasta (any shape) directly into the soup after simmering and warm through. Start with only 4 cups of broth (because broth isn’t soaked up by the pasta or evaporated when simmering) and add more as needed.  
  • Gluten-free pasta: Use a gluten-free pasta; try to choose a small pasta shape.
  • Pancetta:  Swap the Italian sausage for pancetta or bacon, however, be aware the flavor is very pronounced.  I actually find bacon too overpowering in this recipe.
  • Ground beef, turkey or chicken: Swap the Italian sausage with lean ground beef, turkey or chicken and season with ½ teaspoon dried fennel and additional red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings as needed at the end of cooking.
  • Other proteins: Try sliced sausage, ham or shredded rotisserie chicken. Ham can be quite salty so omit the salt in the recipe and add salt to taste.
  • Meatballs: Add mini meatballs to cook directly in the broth like in Italian wedding soup.
  • Add veggies: Add any additional veggies you’d like such as mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, corn, green beans, or spinach.  You can also stir roasted veggies such as roasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower or zucchini into the soup at the end of cooking.  Add additional broth as needed to compensate for the vegetables.
  • Add leafy greens:  Add about 2 cups chopped Tuscan kale, chard, collard greens or spinach.  You may need to add additional broth to compensate.
  • Make it vegetarian: Use vegetable broth and replace the Italian sausage with crumbled tofu, diced mushrooms, chickpeas, additional white beans or plant-based ground “meat.” Be ready to season with additional red pepper flakes, salt and Italian seasonings, which will be missed from the sausage.
up close of a pot of pasta e fagioli soup showing how thick it is

top view of pasta fagioli (pasta fazool) garnished with fresh parsley

Pasta Fagioli FAQS

What does Pasta e Fagioli Mean?

The Italian term “Pasta e Fagoili” translates in English to pasta and beans. It’s a hearty soup consisting of short pasta and typically cannellini or borlotti beans.

What’s the difference between Pasta Fagioli and minestrone?

Pasta Fagioli and minestrone are both Italian soups with similar flavor profiles and pasta.  The two main differences are the thickness and ingredients. 

Ingredients:  While the both soups typically include short pasta, beans and vegetables in a savory tomato broth, minestrone is always vegetarian and as such, includes a wider variety of vegetables.  Pasta e Fagioli Soup can be vegetarian, but often includes pancetta or ground beef and only a few vegetables such as carrots and celery.

Consistency:  Minestrone is traditionally brothy, whereas Pasta e Fagioli is typically thick like a chili.  Of course, this can vary by region.

Is Pasta e Fagioli a Main Dish or a Side Dish?

Pasta Fagioli Soup is traditionally served as a main dish because it is so hearty. Even in vegetarian Pasta Fazool, the beans and vegetables will fill you up!

Where did Pasta e Fagioli originate?

Pasta e Fagioli, is believed to have originated as a peasant dish in Italy during the Middle Ages because it is inexpensive, filling, versatile and simple to prepare.  Some say it comes from Lazio, others Campania, while others claim it comes from Veneto, pointing to the name dialect, pasta e fasoi.

What’s the difference between pasta fazool and pasta e fagioli? 

Both Pasta Fazool and Pasta e Fagioli refer to the same Italian dish in different dialects.  Pasta Fazool is most common in the New York Italian dialect, derived from its Neapolitan name, pasta e fasule.

Can Pasta e Fagioli Soup be made vegetarian?

Absolutely!  This recipe is easy to make vegetarian or to customize depending on your personal preference.  To make it vegetarian, omit the Italian sausage, and use vegetable broth.  You may wish to add extra beans or vegetables to compensate for the lack of meat. 

Dry or canned beans?

While authentic versions use dried beans, this recipe uses canned beans for easy and quick cooking.  If you’d like to use dried beans, soak and cook them a day ahead of time.  To use, weight out 30 ounces of the cooked beans, or about 3 ½ cups.

Should I Cook the Pasta Separate?

Pasta Fagioli is meant to be thick, as such, I like to cook the pasta directly in the soup.  It makes the pasta 10X more flavorful as it soaks up the broth like a sponge.  When cooking the pasta in the soup, cook it al dente, so it has a bite to it.  It will soften more as the soup sits in the hot broth before serving. If you prefer a brothier soup, then I suggest cooking the pasta separately.  

up close of pasta fagioli (pasta fazool) garnished by Parmesan

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top view of pasta fagioli (pasta fazool) garnished with fresh parsley

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli is a classic Italian dish and the ultimate comfort food that will fill you up, warm you up, and tastes even better the next day. It’s loaded with pasta and beans for a hearty richness, somewhere between a soup and a chili, that will have everyone coming back for seconds and thirds.  This recipe is not 100% authentic, but instead uses easy-to-find ingredients such as juicy Italian sausage, al dente pasta, fresh vegetables and creamy beans in a tomato, herb, Parmesan-infused broth. This Pasta e Fagioli Soup is super versatile, amenable to practically any veggies, pasta or protein!  Serve this recipe up with homemade Caesar Salad and some garlic bread for the ideal cozy feast.
Servings: 8 servings
Total Time: 50 mins
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed (may sub lean ground beef/turkey – see notes)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional if you like spicy)
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes (San Marzano recommended)
  • 1 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices (may sub regular)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1 ½ tsp EACH dried basil, parsley
  • 1 tsp EACH oregano, salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

ADD LATER

  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup ditalini or other small pasta (not cooked)
  • 1/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • chopped fresh parsley and/or basil for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large soup pot/Dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown sausage and onions for 4 minutes, while breaking up the sausage. Add carrots and celery and sauté an additional 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables/onions are tender. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for 1 minute. Dain grease.
  • Add all remaining soup ingredients up to the Add Later/through pepper. Cover to help bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered with about 1 -inch gap, for 10 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth and beans and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and simmer (uncovered) until al dente (don’t overcook!), about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Discard the cheese rind and bay leaf. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until melted. If you didn't use a Parmesan rind, you may wish to add more Parmesan. The soup is supposed to be a thick, chili-like consistency (and will continue to thicken as it sits), but you may thin with additional broth if desired. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and top with freshly grated Parmesan, basil and parsley if desired. Dig in!

Video

Notes

  • San Marzano tomatoes: I recommend brands San Marzano, Cento and Muir Glen. They are highly prized for their sweet, intense tomatoey flavor and lower acidity. San Marzano tomatoes are usually sold “whole” so you will want to pour them into a bowl and crush them with your hands or potato masher first.  
  • If you don’t have a cheese rind: Simply add additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano to the soup to taste.  
  • Ground beef, turkey or chicken: Swap the Italian sausage with lean ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken or shredded chicken and season with ½ teaspoon dried fennel (if you have it) and additional red pepper flakes and Italian seasonings as needed at the end of cooking.
  • Pasta cooking time will vary. The cooking time may vary depending on your exact pasta shape and size, your soup pot, and how long it takes to bring your soup to a boil so I suggest checking the pasta occasionally until al dente.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta. Remove the Pasta e Fagioli from heat as soon as the pasta is on the firmer side of al dente because it will continue to cook slightly in the hot pot and soup bowls. If it’s not initially overcooked, it will stay pleasantly textured and not become mushy even when reheated the next day.
  • Cook pasta separately if needed. As written, the pasta cooks in the same pot with the sausage and beans. If you aren’t prepared to babysit your pasta or prefer a brothier soup, you may wish to cook it separately and add to individual bowls.
  • Adjust the consistency as needed. As written, this Pasta Fazool has a rich thickness, closer to the consistency of chili. For a thinner soup, simply add additional broth at the end of cooking, or when reheating leftovers.
  • Meal Prep: Pasta Fagioli Soup can be made in its entirety, cooled, then refrigerated for leftovers that taste even better the next day! When making ahead, take care to cook the pasta on the firmer side of al dente, then leftover pasta will be the perfect consistency! You may wish to add additional broth to leftovers if you don’t want it as thick.
  • Storage: Homemade Pasta e Fagioli Soup will last about 5 days in the refrigerator. Be aware that the pasta will continue to absorb the broth as it sits. The soup is still tasty and the pasta doesn’t become mushy (as long as it’s not initially overcooked), but you’ll need to add additional broth or water to thin leftovers when reheating. 
  • Freezing Instructions: This Pasta e Fagioli Soup can be frozen, but note that it does not freeze well with the pasta already cooked in it (the pasta becomes mushy). If you’d like to freeze the soup, omit the pasta and add cooked pasta fresh when reheating. 

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10 Comments

  1. KARLA says

    This is one of my FAVORITE soup recipes.
    I’ve subbed the meat for all kinds.
    Family favorite!

    • Jen says

      I’m so pleased it’s a favorite, so cozy!

  2. Brooke says

    Made this today and it is so good and easy!

    • Jen says

      That is awesome you made it already, I’m so please you loved it!

  3. Jeanne says

    Outstanding recipe! Made just as the recipe says and it was absolutely delicious.
    I appreciate that I can have confidence to make one of your recipe and know it’s going to be good! Thanks!

    • Jen says

      That’s the ultimate compliment! Thanks so much Jeanne for making so many of my recipes!

  4. Betty Bonin says

    While waiting for the snow to fly, I thought that was a great time to make pasta Fagioli soup. It is a delicious soup to have ready, especially after shoveling. This will definitely be my go-to recipe from now on. Please make it yourself and enjoy it, because you’re in for a treat.

    • Jen says

      Thanks for recommending this soup to everyone Betty, I’m so pleased you enjoyed it!

  5. Daria says

    Just made this and it is excellent! I used shredded carrots and I like that texture better. I also made a spinach pesto because my mom always put a dollop on top of her pasta fagoli soup when I was a kid. Great with some warmed up crusty French bread. 5 stars!

    • Jen says

      Thanks Daria, I’m so please you loved it! Thanks for sharing the tip of a dollop of pesto – that sounds incredible!

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