Authentic Italian pasta fagioli, with beans, pasta and tomatoes. Perfect to enjoy for lunch or add a crusty bread and a salad for a hearty dinner soup.
This classic Pasta e Fagioli is maybe the perfect pantry soup! With canned tomatoes, canned beans and pasta. A bit of pancetta is added, for a salty note and of course, cheese in the form of Parmesan or Pecorino.
Enjoy this hearty, easy pasta fagioli soup for a hearty lunch, or add a crusty bread (or garlic bread) and a salad for a lovely pantry dinner.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Pancetta – or bacon. Or omit for vegetarian
- Canned diced tomatoes – or whole canned tomatoes, hand-crushed
- Canned cannellini beans – aka white kidney beans, or other type of bean you enjoy or have on hand
- Chicken broth – or vegetable broth, for a vegetarian option
- Small pasta – I’ve used Ditalini pasta here, but small shells, macaroni etc. with also work just fine.
Step by Step Photos
- Step 1: Brown the pancetta or bacon.
- Step 2: Add the diced onion and celery and cook until softened.
- Step 3: Add the garlic and herbs.
- Step 4: Add some tomato paste and cook for another minute.
- Step 5: Add the canned tomatoes.
- Step 6: Add the rinsed beans.
- Step 7: Cook the tomatoes and the beans together for about 10 minutes. *You can make ahead up to this point and refrigerate to finish when ready to eat later.
- Step 8: Add the broth.
- Step 9: Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
- What kind of pasta can I use in this soup? Any small pasta is fine. I’ve used Ditalini pasta here. Small shells, macaroni or even orzo would work as well.
- Can I use a different kind of bean? Absolutely, use what you have. Red kidney, navy, great northern or pinto beans would be great options.
- Can I use canned whole tomatoes instead of diced? Yes. Just hand crush them before adding to the soup.
- What is a Parmesan rind? It’s just the harder, darker outside of a Parmesan wedge. I like to keep the ends in a bag in my fridge for just these uses. If yours doesn’t have a rind, just cut off a chunk of the Parmesan and use that. No fresh Parmesan? Just stir a few Tbsp of grated Parmesan into the soup instead.
I feel like a bit of a broken record, but I’m going to say it again :) Be sure to properly season your soup at the end of cooking. Taste it. If it tastes bland or flat, it needs salt. Some freshly ground pepper is nice, too. Need a touch more oregano? Stir that in at the end as well. And finally, top this soup with shavings of extra Parmesan (vs. grated). The hit of Parmesan is so lovely in this soup. Use your vegetable peeler to shave it on top before serving.
Making ahead, storing and freezing
This soup is best enjoyed fresh. If you make it ahead, when you return to it, you will have a stew. What you can do though is to make the first part of the soup earlier (through boiling the beans with the tomatoes and before adding the pasta), then refrigerate and finish the soup later when you’re ready to eat.
Left-over soup with pasta already added with thicken considerably as it sits, as the pasta will absorb the broth. The best option is to thin with a bit more broth when re-heating.
Yes, you can freeze pasta fagioli! If the soup thickens during the freeze/thaw process, simply thin with a bit more broth, as above, when reheating.
Get the Recipe: Authentic Pasta Fagioli
- 1/3 cup pancetta, diced (or bacon)
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1/3 cup celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 28 oz. canned diced tomatoes, or *see Note 1
- 19 oz. canned Cannelini beans, rinsed *see Note 2
- Chunk of Parmesan rind, optional, but recommended
- 4 cups chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- 1 cup ditalini pasta, about 6 oz, *see Note 3
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Additional salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Freshly shaved Parmesan, for serving
- Heat a large pot over medium heat on the stove-top. Add the diced bacon and cook, stirring, until the fat cooks off and the bacon is starting to brown. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, another minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, another 30-45 seconds.
- Add the canned tomatoes (with their juices) and rinsed beans and stir to combine. Add the Parmesan rind, if using. Increase the heat under the pot, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the bean/tomato mixture for about 10 minutes. *You can make ahead to this point and then refrigerate to finish later when ready to eat.
- Add the chicken broth. Increase heat under the pot to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Add pasta and salt to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring very regularly at the start, to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot! Cook until the pasta is tender, about 8-10 minutes. *if your soup is getting too thick, add a splash of water to the pot, as needed. Remove Parmesan rind. Stir in fresh parsley and stir to combine.
- Taste soup and add additional salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed. Serve immediately, garnished with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.
2. You can use any canned beans, such as red kidney, pinto, great northern or navy beans.
3. Any small pasta will work here, such as small shells, macaroni or even orzo. This is best enjoyed freshly cooked, as the pasta will continue to absorb the broth as it sits and making ahead or leftover will become a stew quite quickly. Be sure to read the Tips and FAQ above the recipe card for more advice for making this recipe.
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!