Pasta e fagioli, or pasta and beans, is a quick and easy, inexpensive, nutritious and delicious meal that the entire family will enjoy. Children especially love pasta e fagioli soup. Don’t let its simplicity fool you; this is an authentic Italian recipe for pasta and beans.
My daughter has been pestering me for days to post this recipe as her friends want to make it. Apparently, they tasted her pasta e fagioli when she brought it to school and it was a huge hit.
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What is Pasta e Fagioli?
Pasta e fagioli is literally “pasta and beans” in Italian, and is a typical Italian peasant dish, or cucina povera recipe. This is typical peasant cooking because beans were more plentiful and cheaper than meat and supplied protein. What you will find surprising is that pasta e fagioli is so unbelievably tasty, with homemade tomato sauce and REAL grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese–it’s pure comfort food, and perfect on chilly or rainy days!
Don’t be duped into thinking you’re saving money if you buy parmesan cheese (it’s not Parmigiano Reggiano) or cheese without the rind; without it, there’s no guarantee it actually is the real deal (and probably isn’t)!
Obviously, to keep this vegan, the Parmigiano Reggiano is an optional topping when serving,
but rest assured the dish is 100% vegan.
Why Not Olive Garden?
Wondering why my recipe isn’t an Olive Garden pasta e fagioli copycat recipe? It’s simply because Olive Garden isn’t an Italian restaurant. I cannot say it any clearer: OLIVE GARDEN IS NOT Italian, capeesh? It’s truly not even American Italian as its recipes have gone so astray. 🥲 An actual Italian would be horrified with the food that is served here (I can only imagine my relatives faces if they were subjected to this food in front of them!) So if you want an authentic pasta e fagioli recipe, you’re in the right place!
A Healthy and Budget Friendly Meal
Pasta and beans is such an inexpensive dish to make, you’ll be amazed at how much further the pasta can stretch. This goes for all soup with pasta recipes. If you’re serving 5 with a pound of pasta, you’ll easily be able to feed 10 if you make this recipe for pasta e fagioli! Many other recipes aren’t quite so easy, quick to make, nutritious and inexpensive.
Discover more healthy budget friendly meal ideas.
What Can I Add to Pasta?
Besides pasta sauce, add your favorite beans. You can also add peas to dry pasta, but the classic pasta e fagioli soup is definitely the most famous in the US.
Switch out the beans for garbanzo beans and you have pasta e ceci.
You may know this recipe by its American Italian nickname, “pasta fazool.” The word for “beans” which is “fagioli” (pronounced fah-jolly), has a different pronunciation in Italian dialects, and I’m sure this is how it transformed into “fazool.” Even Dean Martin sings about it in his most famous song, That’s Amore!
“When the stars make you drool, just like past’ e fazool, that’s amore!” -Jack Brooks, lyricist
This is a fabulously easy meal because it only contains three ingredients. It’s ready in the time it takes to boil pasta. Bonus: it’s also vegetarian, and vegan (just skip the added cheese), for anyone on those diets. (I’ve been asked, so I’m adding a link here for the Parmigiano Bowl in the photos however, I paid under $10 for mine at a shop.)
I usually don’t measure any of the ingredients when I make pasta and beans, so please don’t focus on the importance of the measurements. More or less of any of the ingredients won’t make a huge difference when making pasta fagioli soup. In fact you may like it more or less soupy (adjust how much water you leave in the pot), or saucy, or with more beans. You should be able to cook this without measuring anything after making it a couple of times–it’s that simple.
Keep this meatless pasta sauce in the fridge or freezer for quick, last minute pasta soup.
I have seen so many versions of pasta e fagioli which cook the pasta in the sauce. They also add tons of other ingredients and make it so complicated and more difficult to make. Just know that these are NOT authentic Italian ways of making pasta and beans. If you see a laundry list of ingredients in most typical “Italian recipes”, run.
NOTE: you can also make a “dry” pastasciutta version by draining all the water, and adding the beans and sauce. However, 8 ounces of dry pasta won’t feed four, you’ll have to add at least 4 more ounces of pasta (3/4 of a 1lb box).
Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)
recipe has been made in my family for generations serves 4
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
- pasta (tubetti, small shells, broken spaghetti, linguine etc. )
- cooked beans like cannellini, Borlotti or kidney (I used Borlotti)
- meatless pasta sauce or “marinara sauce”
- (optional – Parmigiano Reggiano DOP)
Directions for Pasta and Fagioli
Cook the pasta until it is almost al dente (a little hard, not completely cooked) making sure there is plenty of water in the pot. Remove some water, but reserve to use later, if needed. I usually try to make the water level with the pasta, as in the photo below. Add the beans, and stir to heat through (keep the burner on).
Next, add the pasta sauce (there’s no need to heat it). If it’s too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
Stir thoroughly, and just let the pasta start to come to a boil, then remove from heat. Ladle the pasta e fagioli soup into serving bowls, add grated Parmigiano Reggiano (or Pecorino) cheese and dinner is served!
I told you it was easy!
Just a fair warning: everyone seems to want second and third helpings of pasta e fagioli, so you’d better make extra. If not, you may have lots of empty bowls and sad faces (especially applies to the little ones).
And now for my rant~
The Difference in Using Quality Ingredients
I cannot emphasize how important it is to use good quality ingredients! Friends often tell me their dish didn’t taste like mine. However, after a couple of questions, I realize they substituted inferior quality ingredients. This is exactly the reason it didn’t turn out as they had expected.
For example, when making this pasta fagioli soup recipe, if you use a no-name pasta, “famous name” tomato sauce and a can of store bought beans, I can guarantee it will not taste as it should if made the way my Italian family makes this dish. I do not recommend making it this way.
I use really good quality Italian-made pasta, and cook dried beans myself (however, organic canned beans with nothing but salt added are good, too.) My favorite are Borlotti beans or cranberry beans which you can find online, and at many bulk item stores. The difference in the flavor of your pasta e fagioli soup will be significantly better.
I make homemade pasta sauce using extra virgin olive oil, tomato puree from Italy. I also use fresh garlic (never, ever use pre-chopped, jarred or dried garlic), and when possible, fresh parsley and basil etc.
Trust me, every little ingredient makes a difference. Okay, I’m done–I feel much better now!
- 1/2 pkg (8 oz) bite size pasta (tubetti, small shells, broken spaghetti, linguine etc.)
- 1 c (8 oz) or more, cooked beans especially cannellini, Borlotti or kidney(any kind of bean will do, including garbanzo)
- 1/2 c (4 oz) meatless pasta sauce, more or less depending on your taste
- (optional: Parmigiano Reggiano, grated, to serve - please don’t use a lesser quality cheese)
- Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package until it is almost al dente (a little hard, not completely cooked). Remove some water, (but reserve to use later, if needed); I usually try to make the water level with the pasta.
- Add the beans.
- Now add the pasta sauce. If it's too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
- Stir thoroughly, and just let the pasta start to come to a boil, then remove from heat. Ladle into serving bowls, add grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, if desired, and dinner is served!
- I cannot emphasize how important it is to use GOOD QUALITY ingredients! People often tell me their dish didn’t taste like mine, and after a few questions, I realize they substituted inferior quality ingredients, which is exactly why it didn’t turn out as they had expected. For example, when making this recipe, if you use a no-name pasta, big-name canned tomato sauce and a can of store brand beans, I can GUARANTEE it will not taste good. Use a pasta made in Italy with the only ingredients: durum wheat semolina. I cook dried beans myself (I love Borlotti/Cranberry Beans) and make homemade pasta sauce using extra virgin olive oil, tomato puree from Italy, and fresh parsley, basil etc. Find my quick tomato sauce recipe here. Trust me, every little ingredient makes a difference.
- Canned beans aren't bad, I use them on occasion, but just be sure they don't have lots of extra added chemicals, and other ingredients.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 663Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 152mgSodium: 1766mgCarbohydrates: 136gFiber: 25gSugar: 41gProtein: 38g
Nutrition info is only estimated.
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City Hall, downtown Los Angeles
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