Get the newsletter.

Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli)

A traditional Italian peasant bean soup with tons of vegetables.

An easy pasta e fagioli or “pasta fazool” recipe. This hearty Italian soup combines cannellini beans with rosemary, tomato, and lots of vegetables for a traditional bean soup you’ll love cozying up to.

bowl of Pasta Fazool soup.

What Is Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli) Soup?

Pasta e fagioli (pronounced “pasta fazool“), is an Italian white bean peasant soup. This means, of course, that it tastes hearty and delicious, and uses fresh, inexpensive ingredients.

Translated as “pasta and beans,” this rustic, creamy pasta e fagioli recipe has no meat. No cream. No chicken broth, even, unless you’d like to use it.

This authentic pasta fazool recipe relies squarely on the simple magic of dried cannellini beans, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, herbs, tomato paste, and water — plus a secret trick or two — for the ultimate Italian comfort food.

ingredients like beans, bay leaves, carrots, celery, onion, and thyme

Pasta Fazool: Recipe Notes

As with all recipes that rely on just a few simple ingredients, the right technique and good ingredient quality make the difference. Pasta fazool (pasta e fagioli) should be creamy, thick, and full of flavor, with just a hint of tomato. Best of all: This is a very easy pasta e fagioli recipe to make.

Read on to learn why this recipe makes such a delicious soup.

diced carrots celery and onion for pasta fazool soup

Use dried cannellini beans in your pasta e fagioli.

Dried cannellini beans do add cooking time compared to their canned cousins. However, the pasta fazool soup will be much creamier and “beanier.” The beans’ starch thickens the broth and adds more bean flavor.

But here’s a great trick! You can cut down on fully half the bean cooking time with the important, tried-and true, science-backed pro tip below.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup Recipe (Pasta Fazool)

How to Cook Dried Beans Fast for Pasta Fazool

Here’s a great trick for cooking dried beans (and therefore your pasta fazool) faster: Add baking soda to the cannellini bean cooking liquid.

This is a great example of cooking-meets-science. I could get into a whole discussion about alkaline pH levels and pectin molecules and sodium ions. But I won’t, because someone named Dr. Guy Crosby of The Bean Institute can do that for me. Also: There’s a Bean Institute. Also x 2: The Bean Institute website has a “What Type of Bean Are You?” personality quiz, which of course I took. (White kidney bean.)

Suffice to say that adding a small amount of baking soda makes the beans soft and tender in half the time. I also like to finish the pasta fazool by pulsing about 1/4 of the batch with an immersion blender, but this soup will taste creamy ant thick either way.

pasta fazool (pasta e fagioli) recipe

Choose the Best Pasta for Pasta e Fagioli

The pasta part of the pasta e fagioli recipe comes in at the end, to finish the soup.

Ditalini is the best pasta shape for pasta e fagioli, but any small, sturdy pasta (such as elbows or small shells) will do. What does ditalini pasta look like? Ditalini are a small, short tubular pasta.

This recipe makes a nice, big batch of soup, and good thing — it will be devoured immediately.

peeled garlic on wood

Love this pasta fazool recipe? You will also like:

bowl of Pasta Fazool soup.

Pasta Fazool Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)

Here's an authentic recipe for pasta fazool, from my Italian family to yours. This hearty pasta e fagioli is a rustic, authentic Italian bean soup that's easy to make. With with vegetables, cannellini beans, and fragrant rosemary.
Though it takes longer, I vastly prefer the use of dried beans for this soup than canned, but you can substitute as you like.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time2 hours
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Keywords:: cannellini beans, italian food, pasta e fagioli, pasta e fagioli recipe, pasta fazool, soup, white bean soup
Servings: 4 quarts
Print

Ingredients

For the Soup

  • 1 pound dried cannellini beans
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda (only if using dried beans)
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 head celery, diced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)

To Finish and Serve

  • 1/2 pound ditalini or other small pasta (such as elbow macaroni), cooked al dente
  • Grated Pecorino-Romano or parmesan cheese
  • Minced fresh parsley and red pepper flakes, optional

Instructions

To Cook the Cannellini Beans

  • In a large stock pot, cover the cannellini beans with about three quarts of water. Add the baking soda, bay leaves, and thyme.
    PRO TIP: Pasta fazool does not require any chicken broth. But if you would like to add some chicken flavor, feel free to add a quart of unsalted chicken broth in place of a quart of water.
  • Bring the bean liquid to a boil over medium-high heat (careful -- it may foam). Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the beans are fully softened, approximately 1 hour, maybe a little more. Stir occasionally.
    TIP: For the true bean nerd in search of soup extra credit, Serious Eats did a fascinating and highly-scientific look at when and why to salt dried beans.
    PRO TIP: A substitute for cannellini beans would be borlotti beans (cranberry beans).

To Make the Soup

  • Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic cloves, tomato paste, salt, and rosemary. Check the water level; you may need to add some more if there is not enough broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are soft and the soup has come together, about 30 to 45 minutes minutes. Stir occasionally.
    Now is a nice time to separately cook your ditalini pasta or elbow macaroni, if adding. 
    TIP: If you are substituting canned beans instead of dried, add the beans, drained, to the soup pot once the vegetables, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary have finished cooking in about 2 1/2 quarts of water, for about 30 minutes.

To Serve the Pasta Fazool

  • Check the pasta fagioli seasoning and add red pepper flakes if desired. Stir in the butter (if adding), red wine vinegar, and cooked pasta. Ladle into bowls, top with grated cheese such as Pecorino-Romano or parmesan cheese, a little parsley, black pepper, or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, if desired.
    PRO TIP: This soup should be fairly thick. But if you'd like to make the texture even creamier, you can pulse about 1/4 of the soup with an immersion blender to thicken the broth.

Notes

This soup keeps well in the refrigerator for about three days in an airtight container. You may want to add a bit of water to loosen the pasta fazool when you reheat, since the beans will continue to congeal the soup after cooking. 
Pasta fazool also keeps well in the freezer for up to four months.

13 comments

  • If substituting dry with canned beans can you please specify how many cans? I’m assuming it’s 2 (14 1/2 oz.)? Thank you.

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, there! For one pound of dried beans, you can actually substitute in three or four cans of beans! They really expand from the dried form. Hope you enjoy.

  • ann-marie

    5 stars
    I make this with canned beans and it tastes very good and cooks quickly. I also alternate with adding chicken broth, but this is not necessary.

  • lowandslow

    Questions regarding beans.Have been doing the salt brine for soaking beans for years,should this be done before cooking them with the baking soda? First I have heard of the baking soda tip.I have a 1Lb. bag of Rancho Gordo Royal Corona`s (giant limas) or “Gigante”,will they work here due to the longer cooking time required? Looking forward to making this,thanks for the recipe.

    • Unpeeled

      Hi and all good questions. Soaking the beans is a good idea if you have the time because it tenderizes and hydrates the bean all the way through before the cooking starts. The baking soda trick is one I learned in Harold McGee’s indispensable book, On Food and Cooking. (If you’re interested in baking and cooking science, this is a fantastic book to have.) The alkalinity breaks down the bean exterior more quickly, decreasing the cook time. If you’re pre-soaking the beans, don’t add the baking soda until you begin the soup, or eliminate it entirely, since the baking soda is meant as a quick hack to substitute for pre-soaking. As for the Gigante beans (and good for you for using Rancho Gordo–the best!), I do think these will work. I think the starch content may differ, but the result will be approximate. Enjoy!

  • Fabulous!! I didn’t even add the pasta! I was a bit worried that the Rosemary would overpower it but the balance of flavors was perfect. Thanks for the recipe and also thanks for sending me down the rabbit hole with those bean links?

    • Unpeeled

      Haha!! You’re welcome/I’m sorry about the bean links!! So glad you liked the soup. It’s one of my favorites.

  • Claudia

    How much is a head of celery? My online research indicates it is the entire bunch, but that seems too much.

    • Unpeeled

      Hi, Claudia! That’s correct. Trim the top leafy part and bottom stump, leaving just the nice, crisp center section. Then chop that. It should equal about 2 or 3 cups. I know it seems like a lot, but it is a nice big pot of soup. Let me know how everything turns out!

  • 5 stars
    This was delicious! Definitely adding to the rotation!

  • 5 stars
    This has become my go-to soup recipe. I’ve made it three times already and always have enough for left-overs. The addition of baking soda to dried beans to help them cook quicker is genius – I always used to forget to soak my beans and ended up having to use canned for bean soups. This is a perfect recipe for a delicious meal that doesn’t require a ton of planning ahead. With an arugula salad and some crusty bread, this has become one of my favorite meals!

  • Leslie86

    5 stars
    Awesome. Will make this often.How thick should it be?

    • Unpeeled

      Thanks, Leslie86! It should be a fairly creamy soup, not watery, and not too thick. If it seems too thin, let it simmer a little longer, stirring every so often. If it’s too thick, just add a little water until it’s the right consistency for you.

Add a note

Recipe Rating




Never miss a recipe.

Sign Up for the Weekly Newsletter
Green leaves

You have great taste!

Get the weekly newsletter of recipes and more.
Salmon and quinoa dish