This authentic pasta fagioli recipe is made with cannelini beans in a dutch oven. Serve this Italian comfort food with crusty bread for one of the best soup recipes that the whole family will love!
This post was originally published in October 2022 and has been updated for content.
Pasta e fagioli or "pasta and beans" is a classic Italian soup. It is made from inexpensive, basic ingredients and considered a peasant dish. In the United States it's often called "pasta fazool". This is after its name in the Neopolitan language, pasta e fasule.
The main ingredients for authentic pasta fagioli are pasta and beans. Some more Americanized versions include ground beef or Italian sausage, vegetables, and a more tomato sauce base.
🍅 Ingredient notes
- Pasta - Tradition pasta fagioli is served with a short pasta or a small pasta shape. Use small shells, elbow macaroni, or ditalini pasta.
- Beans - Cannellini beans, navy beans, or borlotti beans are traditional for this Italian soup recipe. Blend half of the beans with chicken stock or broth to make a thick and creamy soup. Leave the remaining beans whole for added texture.
- Pancetta - This Italian cured bacon adds delicious, extra flavor. Use prosciutto or bacon as an alternative.
- Tomatoes - Hand crushed whole peeled tomatoes add a nice depth of flavor to this recipe. Use crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes, as an alternative. For a white version of this soup, omit the tomatoes and then add an additional cup of chicken broth.
📋 Substitutions and variations
- Vegetarian - Omit the pancetta from the recipe and then use vegetable stock or broth.
- Spinach - Stir in a large handful of fresh baby spinach for some extra greens.
🔪Step by step instructions
First, puree one of the cans of cannellini beans with 1 cup of chicken broth or stock in a blender or food processor until smooth. Drain and rinse the other two cans and then set them aside.
Next, heat a dutch oven or large pot with the olive oil over medium heat on the stovetop. Add the pancetta and cook for a few minutes until browned and crispy.
Add the minced garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, and red pepper flakes and saute for a minute until it becomes fragrant. Carefully pour in the bean puree, whole beans, remaining chicken broth, and tomatoes, and then stir to combine.
Increase the heat to medium-high and then bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the dry pasta and let it cook, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
Ladle the hot soup into soup bowls and then serve topped with freshly grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese.
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⭐ Expert tips
- If you like a bit more texture to your soup, don't blend the can of beans completely smooth, but leave it more chunky.
- Make sure to crush the tomatoes into small pieces so then it is easier to eat.
- Cook the pasta until just al dente so it doesn't become too mushy.
- Stir the soup occasionally while it is cooking so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
⏲️ Make ahead and storage instructions
This traditional pasta e fagioli recipe can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and then stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will also last up to 2 months in the freezer and should be moved to the refrigerator to defrost it completely.
Leftover pasta fagioli soup is definitely better the next day! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Reheat the soup on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave. A little bit of extra broth may need to be added if it becomes too thick.
🍜 More Italian soup recipes
If you loved this authentic pasta fagioli recipe, then check out these other Italian soup recipes I know you will love too!
- Slow Cooker Minestrone
- Creamy Sausage Tortellini Soup
- Tomato and Mascarpone Soup
- Italian Wedding Soup
Authentic Pasta Fagioli Recipe
- 3 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
- 1 quart chicken broth divided
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces thick sliced pancetta diced into small pieces
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 15 ounces whole peeled tomatoes crushed by hand into small pieces
- 2 cups uncooked small shell pasta
- grated pecorino romano for serving
- Puree one of the cans of beans with 1 cup of chicken broth or stock in a blender until smooth. For more texture, only pulse shortly.
- Drain and rinse the other two cans of beans and set them aside.
- Heat a dutch oven or large pot with the olive oil over medium heat on the stove top.
- Add the diced pancetta and saute for 3-5 minutes until the pieces are browned and lightly crispy.
- Add the garlic, rosemary and red pepper flakes and saute for an additional minute.
- Carefully add in the reserved bean puree, whole beans, remaining chicken broth and tomatoes and stir to combine.
- Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Stir in the shell pasta and let it cook, while stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes until the pasta is al dente.
- Serve the soup hot topped with the pecorino romano cheese, if desired.
- Pasta - Use small shells, elbow macaroni, or ditalini pasta.
- Beans - Use cannellini beans, navy beans, or borlotti beans.
- Pancetta - Use prosciutto or bacon instead of pancetta.
- Tomatoes - Use crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes in place of whole tomatoes.
- White - Omit the tomatoes and add an additional cup of chicken broth.
- Vegetarian - Omit the pancetta and use vegetable stock or broth.
- Spinach - Stir in a large handful of fresh baby spinach at the end.
- Make Ahead - Make this recipe up to 3 days ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator.
- Leftovers - Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Reheat over low heat on the stovetop or in the microwave with extra broth if needed.