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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Love this pasta fazool recipe? You will also like:
- Easy Tomato Orzo Soup
- U.S. Senate Ham and Bean Soup
- Très Authentic French Onion Soup
- Vegetarian French Lentil Soup
- Oven Roasted Green Beans
Pasta Fazool Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)
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
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.