Pasta e Fagioli is a classic Italian soup and it is a beloved for a reason. It’s homey and satisfying and easy to make, while being so full of flavor! Along with recipes like Braised Italian Meatballs and Bolognese Sauce, it’s right up there as some of my favorite Italian comfort food.
Just as almost any Italian-American cook is going to have her own recipe for Italian Meatballs, they are probably going have a recipe for Pasta e Fagioli.
On the surface, the dish is easy and simple. There is pasta, there are beans, and together they make a soup. However, there is room for so much variation!
What sort of tomatoes to add? What type of beans? Vegetarian or not? Thick or thin? This is my version of Pasta e Fagioli. I like a broth thickened with vegetables, plenty of pancetta, just a little tomato, and of course the pasta and beans.
These days it seems as though everyone has heard of this Italian pasta and bean soup and knows what it is. This was not true when I was growing up! However, I’m not surprised it has entered the American mainstream. What’s not to love? Americans enjoy pasta (to put it mildly), and tomatoes, and certainly would love the idea of putting them together with beans and having soup.
This recipe is a combo of the soup I grew up with and versions of the recipe I’ve had when out to dinner, with some additions of my own.
The soup I grew up with was a very homey tomato sauce based version. I always loved it (and still do!), but then I had some other versions which were more broth-based and brought in the pancetta and moved the tomato to an accent flavor.
As with any cook who likes to mix it up in the kitchen, I took a few flavors from here, a few ideas from there, and had a ‘oh yes, this is what is needs’ moment when I realized that pureeing the vegetables was the perfect way to thicken the broth. Really. That was the moment when my soup went from ‘this is very nice soup that I’m happy to make for dinner’ to ‘YES, this is the soup.’ 🙂
If you try my recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Pasta e Fagioli - Italian Pasta Bean Soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 oz pancetta, diced
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 medium stalk celery, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 4 cups chicken stock, low sodium or no sodium
- 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 oz ditalini pasta, or other small pasta shape
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- garnishes parmesan cheese, olive oil, fresh chopped parsley
- Heat olive oil in a medium stockpot or dutch oven on medium heat until shimmery. Add the pancetta and saute for 10 minutes, or until the pancetta has rendered out most of its fat and started to crisp.
- While the pancetta is cooking, add onion, garlic, carrot, and celery to a food processor and blend until very finely chopped. Scrape the chopped aromatics into the stockpot with the salt and saute until they are soft, tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add chicken stock, beans, thyme, and bay. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add ditalini and tomatoes. Bring back to a low boil and cook until the ditalini is tender. Check the seasonings and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve immediately with garnishes of your choice.
- Pancetta: I use 3 oz of pancetta since pancetta comes in that size package all pre-diced for me. If you are buying the pancetta fresh sliced, get it 1/4 inch thick and then dice it up into 1/4 - 1/2 pieces. Anywhere from 3-4 oz is the right amount.