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Pasta e Fagioli

January 8, 2023  Chef Austin Avatar
Pasta e Fagioli

If you’re looking for a super cozy and hearty soup to get you through ’til spring, you’ve got to try this Pasta e Fagioli for dinner tonight. I was lucky enough to eat Pasta e Fagioli for the first time in Italy, and it was so good—I wanted to lick the bowl clean after finishing the last spoonful! I’ve tweaked my own version over the years, combining techniques from both traditional Italian versions and Americanized ones, finally arriving at a soup that is easy to prepare, insanely nostalgic, and comforting.

Large bowl of pasta e fagioli soup in a white bowl with a black spoon and topped with a torn piece of bread and surrounded by other ingredients like more bread, uncooked pasta, and a decorative blue and white napkin.

What is Pasta e Fagioli?

Pasta e Fagioli (pronounced “paa·stuh ee faa·jow·lee”), also called “Pasta Fazool” in Italian-American slang, simply means “pasta and beans.” This lesser-known Italian staple feels indulgent thanks to a whisper of bacon and a handful of pasta, but since the soup is mostly vegetables and beans, it’s a dinner worthy of a second helping without a second thought. Pasta e Fagioli is made with…

  • Cannellini beans (But any white bean will work!)
  • Small-shaped pasta (most often ditalini or acini di pepe)
  • Tomato broth enhanced with smoky pork
  • Fresh herbs (typically rosemary or thyme)
  • Aromatic vegetables (onions, carrots, and celery)
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh Italian parsley

budget tips

I made some modifications to traditional versions of Pasta e Fagioli over the years in order to suit my tastes—and now, to make it more budget-friendly. 

  • Most recipes use pancetta as the pork element. Since it’s harder to find in most U.S. grocery stores and tends to be more pricey, we opted for bacon.
  • We used grated parmesan, the most cost-conscious option, but reaching for shredded parmesan—or the real thing! —will take this soup to the next level.
  • While rosemary is the most common herb used in this type of soup, I think it’s a really overwhelming flavor even in small amounts. I prefer to use oregano since I always have it on hand.

Weeknight shortcuts 

Pasta e Fagioli is a pretty straightforward recipe as it is, but here are a few shortcuts you can take to make it come together in 30 minutes :

  • Skip the herbs, spices, oil, and crushed tomatoes, and grab a jar of pre-made marinara or another tomato-based pasta sauce. (Since most store-bought sauces are sold in 24-25 oz. jars, you can make up the remaining 3-4oz of liquid called for in the recipe with an equal amount of water or broth.)
  • Use a Mirepoix-Style frozen vegetable blend to cut down on prep time.

How to store pasta e Fagioli leftovers

If you plan to meal-prep or freeze this recipe, cook the pasta separately. Nevertheless, we found the ditalini we used did not soak up too much liquid or turn to mush—even after 4 days in the fridge! The broth will thicken over time, so if you want the leftovers to be more “soupy,” add a ¼ cup of water and a pinch of salt when reheating.

How to serve pasta e fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is best topped with lots of chopped parsley, fresh-cracked black pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Round out the meal with a Simple Side Salad and, most importantly, some bread to help soak up every drop! It doesn’t matter what kind — anything from some super-simple Homemade Garlic Bread, a from-scratch bread recipe like our No-Knead Foccacia, Ciabatta, or Easy Soda Bread to a store-bought loaf — just make sure to serve it with bread!

Side view of a white serving bowl filled with Pasta e Fagioli topped with parsley, parmesean cheese, bacon crumbles and crusty Irish Soda Bread.
Dutch oven filled with finished Pasta e Fagioli soup topped with chopped parsley and parmesan cheese, with a ladle tucked into the right side of the soup.

Print

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a classic, budget-friendly Italian soup that combines beans, pasta, vegetables, and a flavorful tomato-based broth.
Course Dinner, Soup
Cuisine Italian
Total Cost $6.71 RECIPE / $1.12 SERVING
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 1.5 cups
Calories 248kcal
Cost $6.71 RECIPE / $1.12 SERVING

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. bacon, sliced $1.20
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.13
  • 1 onion, finely diced $0.37
  • 2 carrots, finely diced $0.29
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced $0.32
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes $0.04
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano $0.08
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp pepper $0.02
  • 1 15oz. can cannelinni beans $0.89
  • 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes $1.69
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth* $0.24
  • 1 cup ditalini (uncooked)** $0.39
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese $0.36
  • 1/4 cup Flat-leaf Italian parsley, roughly chopped $0.35

Instructions

  • Chop the bacon into smaller pieces and place them in a large pot with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Fry on medium heat until the bacon is brown and crispy (around 10 minutes).
  • While the bacon is frying, finely dice the onion, carrots, and celery; and mince the garlic.
  • Remove half of the cooked bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving behind the rest of the meat and any rendered fat in the pot.
  • Add the finely diced onions, carrots, celery, minced garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Saute the vegetables on medium-high heat until they are softened (around 6 minutes).
  • Add the white beans, canned tomatoes (with juices), water, and vegetable broth to the pot. Stir everything to combine, then bring the soup up to a boil. Once boiling, let it cook for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
  • Add the pasta to the soup and cook, uncovered, according to the package directions, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. If the broth has reduced too much (the pasta will absorb a lot of the flavorful broth as it cooks), add another ½ cup of water, taste it, and adjust the seasonings again if needed.
  • Serve Pasta e Fagioli in bowls topped with the reserved bacon, chopped parsley, grated parmesa cheese, fresh-cracked black pepper, , and a side of warm, crusty bread.

See how we calculate recipe costs here.

Notes

*We use Better Than Bouillon to make our broth. If you use a low-sodium broth, you may need to add more salt to your taste.

**If you plan to keep leftovers or freeze this soup for later, cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package directions and skip Step 6. (Split the pasta between bowls and spoon over the soup to serve.)

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 248kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 12g | Sodium: 744mg | Fiber: 2g
Close up of a ladle full of cooked pasta e fagioli soup and a large pot full of more soup in the background.

How to Make Pasta E Fagioli – Step by Step Photos

Small slices of bacon frying in the bottom of a large dutch oven.

Slice 4 ounces of bacon (1/4 of a regular-size package) into smaller pieces and place in a large pot or dutch oven along with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the bacon on medium heat until it is brown and crispy (around 10 minutes). While the bacon is frying, finely diced 1 onion, 2 carrots, and 3 celery stalks; and mince 4 cloves of garlic.

A large dutch oven filled halfway with uncooked diced onions, diced carrots, diced celery with cooked bacon slices underneath and piles of dried red pepper, minced garlic and dried oregano, salt and pepper on top.

Remove half of the cooked bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside for serving. Leave behind the rest of the meat and any extra fat in the pot. Add the diced onions, carrots, celery, minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pot. Saute the vegetables on medium-high heat until they are softened (around 6 minutes). 

A large pot half filled with sauteed vegetables, uncooked white beans and crushed tomatoes, and a hand overhead pouring vegetable broth into the pot with a liquid measuring cup.

Add a 15 oz. can of white beans (drained and rinsed), a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (with juices), 1 1/2 cups of water, and 2 cups of vegetable broth to the pot. Stir everything to combine, increasing the heat (if needed) to bring the soup up to a boil.

Large pot filled with pasta e fagioli soup simmering to cook before adding the final ingredients.

Once boiling, let the soup cook for another 5 minutes until the vegetables have softened and the broth has cooked enough to lose the “canned” taste from the tomatoes.

Hand pouring uncooked ditalini into a pot of simmering pasta e fagioli soup.

Add 1 cup of small-shaped pasta (ditalini) to the soup and cook, uncovered, according to the package directions (approx. 7 minutes), stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Skip this step if you plan to keep leftovers or freeze this soup for later. Instead, cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package directions.

A close up shot of a wooden spoon raised above a cooked pot of pasta e fagioli soup.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. If the broth has reduced too much (the pasta will absorb a lot of the flavorful broth as it cooks), add another ½ cup of water, taste it, and adjust the seasonings again if needed.

A large pot filled with cooked pasta e fagioli soup with a wooden spoon on the right side of the pot, and a hand tossing in grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley sitting on top of the soup inside the pot.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Finished Pasta e Fagioli soup with a wooden spoon sticking out of the top right side of the pot.

If the broth has reduced too much (the pasta will absorb a lot of the flavorful broth as it cooks), add another ½ cup of water, taste it, and adjust the seasonings again if needed.

Side view of a bowl of pasta e fagioli soup topped with bacon, parsley and parmesan cheese with a black soup spoon and a torn piece of bread on the side.

Serve the soup in bowls topped with more chopped parsley, grated parmesan, fresh-cracked black pepper, reserved bacon pieces, and a side of warm, crusty bread. Buon appetito!

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