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Pasta fagioli (Pasta and beans) recipe

Pasta fagioli (Pasta and beans) recipe

  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup
  • Bean and lentil soup
  • Bean soup

This is a rich and delicious meatless Italian soup, made by simmering together cannellini beans and pasta in a tomato soup base. Serve with crusty fresh bread, if desired.

182 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 160g chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 (400g) tins whole plum peeled tomatoes
  • 750g low salt chicken stock
  • 1 (410g) tin cannellini beans
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 115g seashell pasta

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:45min

  1. Heat oil in 4-litre saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until onion is tender.
  2. Add undrained tomatoes, undrained cannellini beans, chicken stock, parsley, basil and pepper to pan and bring to the boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Let boil for approximately 1 minute and then let simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
  3. Add pasta to pan and simmer approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until pasta is tender. Serve immediately and enjoy.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(269)

Reviews in English (210)

by Chris From Kent, WA

I'm Italian and let me tell you this is a fabulous Pasta Fagioli recipe. It is so easy and very tasty. I made the following modifications as per some of the other ratings and it came out perfect. Garlic increased from 3 to 4 cloves, used only 1 can of tomatoes (use crushed instead of stewed), increased broth to 4 cups, used 1/8 cup fresh chopped basil instead of dried, incrased pasta to 7 oz, added red pepper flakes for a little spice and topped it off with fresh grated parmesan cheese. AWESOME.-18 Aug 2004

by Becky

This was actually really delicious. It's ridiculously easy, which I thought was kind of funny - I was a little embarrassed how much work I didn't do and how well it turned out! :o) Only thing I did differently was use dried parsley and great northern beans rather than cannelini. Also added another shake of dried basil and a little salt at the end. Perfect!*Update 2/15/08: I have made this countless times now and we love it. I always use dried parsley rather than fresh now because it actually tastes better that way to us. One of the best & probably under-rated recipes on this site!-18 Sep 2006

by Nikki Sell

I was looking for a simple pasta e fagioli recipe like my Italian boss makes and I've found it! I doubled the recipe, except for the tomatoes, and used 2 cans of Italian diced tomatoes instead of stewed, like others suggested. I drained and rinced my cannellini beans (I can't stand that "grit"). Also, I cooked dilatini pasta separately (in chicken stock) and added to each bowl, like my boss does, so it wouldn't get mushy...very yummy!!-13 Oct 2005

Simply pasta and beans: Rachel Roddy’s recipe for pasta e fagioli

T he man in the painting is wearing a white shirt, brown waistcoat and well-worn straw hat. He is eating a bowl of beans. There are also spring onions, mushrooms, bread rolls, a jug and glass of wine on the table, but the beans – small with black eyes – are the focus a spoonful of them poised before the open mouth of il mangiafagioli (the bean eater) – also the name of the painting.

This delightful and hungry-making work of the Bolognese painter Annibale Carracci is dated between 1583 and 1585, almost a century after Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors landed, uninvited, in Mesoamerica, home of some of the most politically and socially advanced nations in the world and pocketed – among other things – their beans.

Some pulses – lentils, peas, chickpeas and broad beans – were already established crops in Italy, but the conquistadors returned with Phaseolus vulgaris, a large genus including kidney, pinto, white, navy, cranberry (borlotti), sulphur and black-eyed beans, all of which settled, diversified and thrived in their new environment. This had a profound effect on Italy, and Europe more broadly. Umberto Eco puts it simply in his essay How The Bean Saved Civilisation: “Working people were able to eat more protein as a result, they became more robust, lived longer, created more children and repopulated a continent . Without beans, the European population would not have doubled within a few centuries, today we would not number in the hundreds of millions and some of us, including even readers of this article, would not exist.”

And neither would pasta e fagioli. To say a soupy dish of pasta and beans was the reason I settled in Rome 15 years ago would be an exaggeration (also untrue: the reason was my privilege – and right to freedom of movement). It did, however, play a vital part. Soft, brown, substantial and with a whiff of rosemary, a plate of thimble-shaped pasta and brown beans was a dish that won me over, without me knowing I had been won over. It was one of the first dishes I learned to cook in Rome, that taught me about a soffritto, the value of the water the beans have cooked in (but also the beauty of tins) and the thickening power of pasta – how quickly a soft soup can seize into a solid.

Pasta e fagioli is also a dish that sums up the unity and variation of Italian cooking a singular dish that can be made in multiple ways. I have eaten versions made with four ingredients and with 12, with all manner of herbs and of beans (white, speckled, fresh, dried and tinned) with tomato and without brothy versions and creamy ones. Every region of Italy has a version, every cook who makes it a preference . and this is mine. The aim is a soft, wavy consistency after all, this is a minestra of pasta and beans, continent-shifting and continent-saving food for mangiafagioli, to be eaten with a spoon.

Il Mangiafagioli ( The Bean Eater), by Annibale Carracci, oil on canvas, c1585. Photograph: Granger Historical Picture Archive/Alamy Stock Photo

Pasta e Fagioli—the Easiest of Italian Recipes

The well-known Pasta e Fagioli, or pasta and beans, is an Italian treasure. Every family has their own recipe: with or without garlic, with oil instead of bacon or lard, with or without Parmigiano.

You can make your own version very easily. In Italy, pasta e fagioli immediately reminds us of our grandmas. Its full aromatic taste means family, tradition, and home sweet home.

This is my recipe for pasta e fagioli. The base is a genuine mix of sautéed vegetables: carrots, celery, and onion. I first add beans and then the pasta. A little tomato paste makes it appetizing and smooth bay leaves and your favorite herbs make a unique flavor profile. Healthy and balanced, pasta e fagioli is a traditional peasant dish that works well in winter. You need to choose the right ingredients, which call for slow cooking.

A little advice about the ingredients

Beans: In Italy, borlotti (cranberry) beans best suit this dish. In the US, look for cannellini (white kidney) or pinto beans. Red kidney beans, which make the dish richer in color, work as well. According to the kind of beans you buy—frozen, fresh, or dried—the method and the cooking time will vary.

  • Sautéed vegetables: They reduce the natural sweetness of the dish. Needed are an onion, a carrot, some celery, and a clove of garlic, which you will remove while cooking (so leave it whole).
  • Tomato paste or tomato sauce: Tomato paste makes for a stronger taste tomato sauce is lighter. Mix the tomato sauce with a little tomato paste until you get your favorite result (read the recipe below) .
  • Extra virgin olive oil: I always use extra virgin olive oil, which is the most healthy.
  • Pasta: Any small ones work. I prefer ditaloni or elbow maccaroni. When I have small pasta of different shapes, which are not enough for a single serving on their own, I put everything together. Fresh pasta is also appropriate: Use the leftovers of the tagliatelle you have just made cut it into small pieces for your pasta e fagioli.
  • Fresh herbs: You should use different herbs, such as bay leaves while cooking, and rosemary, thyme, or marjoram before serving.

Some more suggestions for your pasta e fagioli

  • If you want to make this recipe completely vegetarian, only use extra virgin olive oil. On the other hand, if you want a more flavorful and rustic soup, use bacon or lard if you have any on hand.
  • You should have this dish for lunch, and combine it with a nice crisp salad. Finish off your meal with an orange you will absorb more iron from the dish.

What you should know about beans and their preparation

Beans, just like other pulses (beans, peas, lentils), must be cooked for a long time. They need to be soaked and rehydrated for about 6 to 8 hours, so it’s a good idea to soak them the night before you cook them. If you have an instapot or a pressure cooker, you can cook them instead the same day.

  • Soaking beans makes it easier to cook and digest them. The process also reduces the gas-producing compounds. You may use them after cooking or freeze them.
  • Slow-soaking beans: Soak the beans in cool water and discard those which float on the surface. Put the beans in a big bowl and cover them with enough water (3x the amount of beans) and set aside in the fridge or in a cold place overnight.
  • Fast-soaking beans: Choose the most intact beans and put them in a pot pour 1 liter of water for every 2 cups (200g) of dried beans and bring to a boil. Boil them briskly for a couple of minutes and then remove from the heat. Cover with a lid and set aside for 1-2 hours or until they get hydrated and bloated. Drain them and add them to your recipe.
  • In an Instapot or a pressure cooker: Follow the guidelines provided for each machine.
  • In the microwave oven: Arrange the beans on a tray big enough to contain them when they are hydrated: cover with cold water and cook on HIGH for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside for 1 hour.
  • In case of frozen beans, boil them in salted water for about 3-4 minutes.

No, they aren’t. They are legumes, which are a sub-group of the vegetable food group. They should not be substituted for vegetables in your daily food consumption. Can they replace meat? No, although they are quite rich in proteins, they also contain more carbs than you think and have a high glycemic index, meaning they raise the level of sugar in your blood during digestion. Thus, beans are definitely similar to pasta they should be eaten as moderately as you eat a dish of pasta. In Italy, beans are considered a main dish according to the criteria of the Mediterranean Diet, so have them for lunch side along with a serving of vegetables.


Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta, and cook until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve on some paper towels. Add the garlic and onions, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, beans, and tomatoes, and cook until heated through. Remove 2 cups of the beans and liquid and purée using an immersion blender or in a standing blender. Return the purée to the soup and cook to a slow boil.

Stir in the pasta and add the pancetta back to the soup. Cook until the pasta is al dente, about 9 minutes depending on the pasta variety.

Dietary Information

This recipe for pasta fagiole is suitable for the following diets:

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    • 1 pound dried cannellini beans
    • 4 ounces bacon
    • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
    • Needles from 1 sprig fresh rosemary (about 1 tablespoon)
    • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 medium carrot, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 6 to 8 potatoes), peeled
    • 2 fresh bay leaves
    • 6 quarts cold water
    • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 1 pound ditalini pasta
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • Grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 thin slice onion, diced
  • ½ teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 4 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • ½ tablespoon dried basil leaves
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ½ cups ditalini pasta

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute carrot, celery and onion until soft. Add garlic and saute briefly. Stir in tomato sauce, chicken broth, pepper, parsley and basil simmer for 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ditalini pasta and cook for 8 minutes or until al dente drain.

Add beans to the sauce mixture and simmer for a few minutes. When pasta is done, stir into sauce and bean mixture.

List of Ingredients

  • 1 LB. of mixed pasta
  • 1 LB. of dry white cannellini beans
  • 7 OZ. of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 OZ. of sage
  • 4 of aged Parmigiano crusts
  • 3 of garlic cloves
  • 2 of carrots
  • 1 of onion
  • 1 of celery stalk
  • 1 of sprig of rosemary
  • 4 OZ. of dried Trasimeno beans
  • 4 OZ. of round white beans
  • 3 OZ. of dry red cannellini beans
  • 1 of bunch of parsley


Soak the white cannellini beans in 3x their weight of water overnight. Drain. Then wash the Parmigiano crusts and cook in a pot with boiling water for about 1 hour. Once cooked, drain and let them cool to room temperature. Then dice into cubes. Keep the cooking water. Cut the onion into thin sticks and the celery and carrots into cubes.

Brown them in a pan in a veil of oil. Add the cannellini beans to the fried onion, stir for a few minutes, then cover with the cooking water from the parmesan crust and continue cooking for about 2 1/2 hours. Heat 200 g extra-virgin olive oil to 155°F (68°C). Add the garlic, sage and rosemary to infuse with the oil for 15 minutes. Then filter with a fine-meshed strainer. Blend the cannellini with the infused oil for about 5 minutes, then filter the cream for a super-smooth consistency.

For the beans: Soak the three different types of beans in water (three times their weight) in three separate containers overnight. Drain and cook them separately in plenty of water. Once cooked, drain and add them to the white cannellini cream.

For the parsley powder: Wash the parsley well and mince the leaves. Dry the parsley stalks overnight in an oven set to 113°F (45°C). Once dried, blend them to make a powder.

To simplify: Spread the parsley on sheets of baking parchments and dry it by putting them in the microwave at full power for 3 minutes at most, checking the dryness every minute. Let them cool and mince.

To complete: Cook the pasta, drain and simmer it with the cannellini cream. Then add the celery and onion, Parmigiano crusts and fresh parsley leaves. Distribute the pasta on plates and complete with parsley powder.


  • 1 pound dried beans, such as kidney beans, cannellini beans, or chickpeas, soaked overnight in salted water (see note)
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and halved
  • 2 stalks celery, halved
  • 2 large sprigs fresh sage or rosemary
  • 1/2 pound small pasta, such as ditalini, small shells, or orzo
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 thin slice onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 (32 ounce) bottle tomato-vegetable juice cocktail (such as V8®)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ cups ditalini pasta
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes drain and discard grease.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat saute carrot, celery, and onion until softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir vegetable juice cocktail, chicken broth, parsley, basil, oregano, and black pepper into vegetable mixture bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup for 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook ditalini pasta in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 8 minutes. Drain.

Stir cannellini beans and ground beef into soup cook and stir until soup is heated through, about 10 minutes.