Pasta e Fagioli

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

Teeming with vegetables, legumes, and pasta, this hearty pasta e fagioli soup is perfect for chilly nights.

Pasta e Fagioli soup

Pasta e fagioli — literally “pasta and beans” — is a heartwarming Italian soup, perfect for a chilly night. There are countless recipes but this one, given to me by my dear friend Tracy Santoro and adapted from Chef Joe Cicala’s recipe in The Washington Post, is the best I’ve tried.

The base of the soup is made with pancetta, vegetables and white wine, which add tremendous depth of flavor, and the broth is thickened slightly with puréed beans, which makes it rich and satisfying. Serve it with Rosemary Focaccia and a Big Italian Salad — I promise, it will warm you up and make you happy!

What you’ll need to Make Pasta e Fagioli

ingredients for pasta e fagioli

Before we get started, a few words about the ingredients. Pancetta is simply Italian bacon. Instead of being smoked like American bacon, it is cured with salt and spices and then dried. You can find it in the deli at most supermarkets or precut and packaged in the refrigerated gourmet foods aisle, which is a great time saver.

For the wine, be sure to use something inexpensive but still good enough to drink (no supermarket cooking wine!). Since the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup, feel free to use one of those mini bottles sold in packs of four — they are great for keeping on hand for cooking.

For the lentils, I prefer French green lentils (or lentilles du Puy) because they hold their shape when cooked (you can always find them at Whole Foods) but if you can’t get them, any brown or green lentils are fine.

cooking pancetta for pasta e fagioli

Begin by heating the olive oil in a large pot. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes.

cooked pancetta for pasta e fagioli

Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the onions become translucent.

adding veggies to pot for pasta e fagioli

Pour in the white wine and cook until almost evaporated.

adding wine to pot for pasta e fagioli

Next, add the broth, salt, pepper, beans lentils, tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary.

adding beans and broth to pasta e fagioli

Bring to a boil.

simmering pasta e fagioli

Then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, 20-30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you used.

after simmering pasta e fagioli

Use a slotted spoon to transfer about one cup of the beans and a little broth to a blender.

beans in blender for pasta e fagioli

Purée until smooth and set aside.

pureed beans in blender for pasta e fagioli

Meanwhile, add the dried pasta to the simmering broth.

adding pasta to pasta e fagioli

Cook until the pasta is tender, then add the reserved bean purée back to the pot. The broth will be slightly thickened from both the pasta starch and the bean purée.

finished pasta e fagioli

If the soup seems too thick, thin it with a bit of water. Stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

stirring in cheese for pasta e fagioli

Ladle the pasta e fagioli into bowls. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

pasta e fagioli in serving bowl

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Pasta Fagioli

Teeming with vegetables, legumes, and pasta, this hearty pasta e fagioli soup is perfect for chilly nights.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 2 medium ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans or chickpeas (or combination), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed (preferably French green lentils, but any green or brown lentils are fine)
  • 1 cup diced or chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 3/4 cup dried pasta, such as elbow macaroni or ditalini (whole wheat is fine)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the pancetta and cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, carrot and celery and increase the heat to medium; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
  2. Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, salt, pepper, beans, lentils, diced tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you used.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture and a little liquid to a blender. Remove the center knob so steam can escape. Hold a paper towel or kitchen towel over the opening to prevent splatters. Purée until smooth and set aside.
  4. Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir to incorporate. Turn the heat up to a gentle boil and cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. The soup will thicken a bit by the time the pasta is cooked. Fish out and discard the bay leaves.
  5. Stir the reserved puréed bean mixture into the soup. (If you're having a hard time getting the mixture out of the blender, remove as much as you can with a rubber spatula, then add some of the hot soup broth to it and swirl around to loosen it up; it should come right out.) Cook briefly, until the soup is heated through.
  6. Remove the soup from heat and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. If the soup seems too thick, gradually add 1-2 cups of water or more chicken broth and thin to desired consistency (note: the longer it sits on the stove, the thicker it will get). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired.
  7. Note: This soup is best served immediately; as it sits, the pasta and beans soak up the broth. If the soup gets too thick, you can thin it with a bit of broth or water.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen, without the pasta, for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until simmering, add the pasta, and cook until the pasta is tender. (The beans may have soaked up some of the broth while frozen, so add more broth to thin out the soup, if desired.)

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Serving size: About 2 cups
  • Calories: 691
  • Fat: 25g
  • Saturated fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 81g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 17g
  • Protein: 36g
  • Sodium: 1214mg
  • Cholesterol: 26mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Adapted the recipe to what I had on hand – used Better Than Bouillon vegetable broth concentrate, added only one can of cannellini beans and a 10 oz can of diced tomatoes. Used 3/4 cup of Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix and added a small diced zucchini and pasta shells the last 30 minutes. It was plenty hearty. Served with a focaccia recipe I found on Bon Appetit called Shockingly Easy No Knead Focaccia since I find bread making of any kind intimidating and it lived up to it’s name.
    Great soup recipe and bread recipe for leftovers that tasted great the next day.

    • — Marilyn on October 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn: Another home run!! I just made this fabulous soup for the second time, and it’s a cold and blustery day here in the pacific northwest and is a perfect meal with hot crusty bread.
    Thanks Jenn.

    • — Pamela C Harriman on October 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Would canned lentils work in place of dried?

    • — Barb on October 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Barb, yes, canned lentils should work. I’d drain and rinse them before adding them to the soup and add them a few minutes before puréeing the soup so they can get heated through. I hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • Could I add chicken or beef to the soup ? If so, what type of either would you recommend?
    Thanks

    • — Diane on September 13, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, Diane, I think shredded rotisserie chicken would work nicely here.

      • — Jenn on September 14, 2021
      • Reply
    • Made this tonight and it was fantastic. We added minced garlic and skipped the pancetta as we are vegetarian.
      However if this is intended to be your main course, then you probably need to double the recipe for a family of 4.
      I’ll be using more of the recipes here as this was perfect.

      • — A on September 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • Great flavor, great balance. Love the choice of adding lentils and rosemary. Really enjoying this soup. This will be my go-to pasta Fagioli recipe.

    • — jeffrey on August 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • Great as expected since each of your recipes (and I have made a LOT) have not disappointed. Made as directed except for pancetta. I didn’t have any so I subbed bacon that I let sit in boiling water for 2 minutes then drained. That’s how the internet says to make the substitution.

    • — Jennifer Hughes on July 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • This soup is the best I have ever eaten! I have made it three times so far and everyone who eats it, loves it! My daughter (who lives 1400 miles away) requested it as soon as she came home. We cooked it and ate it all! Now she wants me to make it again. That is great for me because I love it too! Thank you for the great recipe and memories to go along with it.

    • — Cheryl S on April 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • Really enjoyed this soup

    • — Tania on April 14, 2021
    • Reply
  • I used to order pasta fagioli 20 years ago from a local restaurant, and I’ve been trying to replicate ever since they changed their recipe. Finally, this version tastes like the soup I loved so much! The only update I made is not scooping out some to blend and add back to the pot because I think the consistency is perfect without it. Thanks for ending my search!

    • — Cathy on February 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious – didn’t change a thing! In the past I’ve always made it with ground beef but this recipe certainly didn’t need it. Thanks again for another amazing recipe!

    • — Lorraine Rossi Marier on February 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have made this quite a few times now and it is absolutely delightful. The best pasta e fagioli that I have ever tasted and that includes from restaurants too. Five stars are not enough for this one – need to have ten….
    Thanks Jen

    • — Kim-Marie on February 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made this soup for dinner on a snowy day. Great comfort food packed with nutritious ingredients. Also wonderful that most ingredients are items you have on hand. I did find that it took longer than the stated cook time. Closer to 50 minutes. Plan accordingly!

    • — Kathy Laudick on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • This soup is so delicious! I have made it so many times that I almost don’t need to refer to the directions anymore. This recipe introduced me to pancetta, and now I keep a couple of packages of it in the freezer, so I almost always have the ingredients for this soup on hand. I really love how the flavor is layered with the pancetta, sautéed veggies and wine. Thickening the soup by pureeing a cup of the bean mixture is genius! I prefer using one can each of cannelloni beans & chickpeas. The perfect lunch or dinner! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Elaine on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • Subscribe to Jenn’s newsletter, that’s how I found this gem. Another great soup with two types of pulses. I must admit I didn’t have green lentils, but the local grocery store did, surprise. Again the steps are easy to follow and the result wonderful. I even used chickpea pasta to keep on our diet. The note at the bottom is important, not only do the pasta and beans soak up broth, they also absorb the spices. Don’t forget to puree some of the bean mixture, thickens the broth and increases the flavor.
    Wonder what the next newsletter will have.

    • — Tom in CP on February 2, 2021
    • Reply

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