A traditional Italian peasant bean soup with tons of vegetables.
An easy pasta e fagioli soup 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 e Fagioli (Pasta Fazool)?
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 literally as “pasta and beans,” this rustic, creamy pasta e fagioli soup has no meat. No cream. No broth even.
This pasta e fagioli 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.
Pasta e Fagioli Soup: 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 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.
Here is 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 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
Here’s a great trick for cooking dried beans (and therefore your pasta e fagioli) 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.
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
Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Pasta Fazool)
For the Soup
- 1 pound dried cannellini beans
- 2 teaspoons baking soda (only if using dried beans)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 head celery, diced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 large cloves of garlic, 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)
- ½ pound ditalini or other small pasta, cooked al dente
- Grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
- Minced fresh parsley, to garnish
For the Beans
- In a large stock pot, cover beans with about three quarts water. Add the baking soda, bay leaves, and thyme.
- Bring to a boil (careful -- it may foam), then 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.
For the Soup
- Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, 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 pasta, 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.
- Check the 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, and a little parsley.
Awesome. Will make this often.How thick should it be?
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.
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!
This was delicious! Definitely adding to the rotation!
How much is a head of celery? My online research indicates it is the entire bunch, but that seems too much.
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!
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?
Haha!! You’re welcome/I’m sorry about the bean links!! So glad you liked the soup. It’s one of my favorites.
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.
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!