Pasta e Fagioli is a deliciously comforting soup perfect for anytime of the year and packed with protein, veggies, pasta and beans making it hearty and filling. Our family loves this soup- a great recipe for all!
Pasta Fagioli Soup Recipe
First thing is first, what does pasta e fagioli mean? It translates in Italian to “pasta and beans”. While it is a staple soup in Italy, the Olive Garden seems to have popularized it in the US.
Somewhere along the line, the “e” (tranlating to and) was dropped and now most people just call it pasta fagioli. Both names are accetpable.
The soup itself has three main elements: pasta, protein and beans. Most have a hearty helping of vegetables as well. And the base is usually a blend of tomato and chicken broths.
Ingredients for Pasta Fagioli
It might looks long, but these ingredients are really pantry and fridge staples.
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Ground beef, turkey or chicken- see section on this below
- White onion– yellow or red are acceptable as well. Aim for about 1 cup, chopped.
- Fresh Garlic– use fresh, not jarred minced, which is usually a little sweeter with less garlicky flavor.
- Tomato sauce– just a plain one, no seasonings added. Comes in a can, not a jar.
- Canned diced tomatoes– plain or seasoned with Italian seasonings like basil and garlic, will do.
- Chicken broth– can be substituted with just water or vegetable broth, but chicken tends to work the best for Pasta e Fagioli.
- Italian seasoning– use bottled or make your own!
- Marjoram– this is optional and oregano is a good substitute if you don’t have on hand. Has some citrus notes.
- Light red kidney beans – or dark kidney beans
- Great Northern beans – or any type of white bean
- Wide egg noodles – see section below on noodles.
- Lemon juice– adding just 1-2 tablespoons of anything acidic right before serving brightens up soup dishes. Vinegar and citruses are the most popular, but soy sauce, Worcestershire and wine also work.
- Kosher salt & ground pepper– I didn’t add amounts because tastes on this in soup greatly vary. Seasoning right before serving as salt tends to get muted after simmer periods.
- Parmesan cheese & Parsley– for garnish, optional
Ditalini and fusilli are probably the most common shapes of pasta used, but honestly, you can use any type of pasta you want! I like egg noodles, but tubes, small, Israeli couscous and even a longer tagliatelle will work.
Don’t add the pasta too soon, you want to add, stirring occasionally and only cook until al dente.
You add whatever you like best, but see my notes on storage and freezing before plopping all your pasta in!
If you are going low carb, this soup is great without noodles too.
Beef is the most commonly used protein for Pasta E Fagioli, however chicken, pork, turkey or even veal can all be substituted. If you want to get super fancy, grab a package of “meatloaf mix” that has a blend. You can also add sliced and cooked Italian sausage.
The main factor is making sure it is lean. And even with a lean meat, you’ll want to drain it after cooking to prevent having a oil slick in your soup.
To make more flavorful pasta, give it a nice hot sear in a hot pan. Most people just cook ground beef instead of searing and browning, which will provide the most maximum flavor be producing the Maillard reaction. It also keeps it the juiciest and most tender.
Make it Vegetarian!
Feel free to make this a vegetarian dish. It is certainly full flavors and heartiness with or without meat.
Simply leave out the ground protein and substitute vegetable stock instead of chicken broth. You’ll still have a super flavorful soup.
Make Ahead, Storage & Freezing
This Pasta e Fagioli soup can be made head, stored and froze, but there is one thing you can do to make it stay as fresh and delicious as possible.
And that is to keep the cooked pasta seperate until right before you are ready to serve. While some types of pasta gain flavor from sitting in soup broth, egg noodles tend to get bloated and mushy.
Freeze soup base and add pasta after it has been thawed. Same with leftovers, keep the pasta and soup separate, adding pasta to each bowl instead of the whole pot.
If the broth is hot enough (and it should be) it will be enough to gently warm the pasta noodles without actually having to recook them.
More homemade soup recipes:
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- 1 pound ground lean ground beef/turkey/chicken
- 1 medium white onion , chopped
- 1 cup carrots , diced (about 3)
- 1 cup celery , diced (about 3)
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 (24) ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 (24) ounce can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 (15) ounce can light red kidney beans , drained and rinsed
- 1 (15) ounce can great Northern beans , drained and rinsed
- 2 cups wide egg noodles , cooked to al dente
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- Parmesan cheese & Parsley for garnish
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a very large Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Cook meat, breaking up as it cooks. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the Dutch oven, adding the onion, carrots and celery, cooking for about 4 minutes until just soft. Add the garlic, cooking an additional 1 minute.
- Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes (with juice), broth, Italian seasoning, marjoram and cooked ground meat.
- Allow to simmer on low for 15 minutes.
- Add drained and rinsed beans, cooked egg noodles and lemon juice, stirring to combine and heating for 5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Ladle into bowls, topping with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley, as desired.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!