Pasta Fagioli

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Teeming with vegetables, beans, and pasta, hearty pasta fagioli soup is the perfect cozy meal for a chilly night.

Bowl of pasta fagioli.

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Pasta Fagioli, literally meaning “pasta and beans” (and pronounced “pasta fa-jo-lee” or “pasta fa-zhool,” depending on the region) is a quintessential Italian comfort food, perfect for those chilly nights that call for something cozy and hearty. This particular version, adapted from Joe Cicala, executive chef at Cicala in Philadelphia, and featured in The Washington Post, is truly the best I’ve tried.

The soup begins with a flavorful mix of pancetta and vegetables, simmered in wine and broth, and finishes with pasta and beans. But what really makes the soup special is the way the broth is enriched: a portion of the soup is puréed and stirred back in, lending a satisfying texture and a depth of flavor that makes the soup a meal in itself. Serve it with focaccia and a big Italian salad, and you’ve got a meal that will warm you up and make you happy.

“AMAZING!! This was an absolute gem of a soup to make, with very rich and complex flavors. Loved the thickening trick as well! I am Italian and have had many versions of pasta fagioli, but this one is my favorite.”

Gina

What You’ll Need to Make Pasta Fagioli

Pasta fagioli ingredients.
  • Olive Oil: Used for sautéing vegetables, adding a subtle, fruity undertone to the soup’s base.
  • Pancetta: Italian cured pork belly, similar to American bacon but not smoked, adds a rich, savory flavor. Available pre-diced near the deli section or at the deli counter for convenience.
  • Onion, Carrots, Celery, Garlic: This classic vegetable mix creates a flavorful foundation for the soup, offering sweetness, aroma, and depth.
  • White Wine: Adds a hint of acidity and complexity to the soup. Choose an inexpensive bottle that’s still good enough to drink.
  • Chicken Broth: The liquid base of the soup, contributing both richness and depth.
  • Cannellini Beans or Chickpeas (or a Combination): These legumes bring heartiness, texture, and protein to the dish.
  • Dried Lentils: Add nutritional value, earthy flavor, and heartiness to the soup. French green lentils (lentilles du Puy) are preferred for their ability to hold their shape, but any brown or green lentils will work.
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes: Provide acidity and brightness, balancing the soup’s rich flavors.
  • Bay Leaves and Fresh Rosemary: These herbs infuse the soup with aromatic and herbal notes.
  • Pasta: Small pasta like elbow macaroni, ditalini, or orzo makes the soup more substantial.
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano: This cheese lends a nutty, salty flavor to the soup.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by heating the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large pot, then add the pancetta.

pancetta and olive oil in pot.

Cook until the fat begins to render, about 5 minutes.

Pancetta rendering in a Dutch oven.

Add the onions, carrots, and celery.

adding the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot.

Cook until the onions become translucent, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

adding the garlic to the cooked vegetables.

Pour in the wine and cook until almost evaporated.

pouring the wine into the pot.

Next, add the broth, salt, pepper, beans lentils, tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary, and bring to a boil.

bringing the soup to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you used. Use a ladle to transfer about one cup of the beans and a little broth 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.

a bit of soup in blender.
blended soup in blender.

Meanwhile, add the dried pasta to the simmering broth.

adding the pasta to the simmering broth.

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

adding the bean and vegetable purée to the soup pot.

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

stirring in the Parmigiano Reggiano.

Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can pasta fagioli be frozen?

Yes, but it’s best to do so before adding the pasta, as pasta can become mushy when frozen and then thawed. Freeze the soup in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the soup in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat 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 necessary.)

Can this soup be made vegetarian?

Yes, you can make this soup vegetarian by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth and omitting the pancetta. To maintain the savory depth of flavor in the vegetarian version, consider adding a Parmigiano Reggiano rind while the soup simmers. The rind imparts a rich, umami flavor that enhances the broth beautifully.

Can pasta fagioli be made ahead of time?

This soup will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. However, keep in mind that the pasta and beans will continue to absorb the broth over time, so they may become softer and the soup thicker. If you don’t plan on serving the soup immediately, I recommend cooking the pasta separately and adding it to individual servings.

Bowl of pasta fagioli.
Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Video Tutorial

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Pasta Fagioli

Teeming with vegetables, beans, and pasta, hearty pasta fagioli soup is the perfect cozy meal for a chilly night.

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

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 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
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans or chickpeas (or a combination), drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup dried lentils, rinsed (preferably French green lentils, but any green or brown lentils are fine)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • ¾ cup pasta, such as elbow macaroni or ditalini
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat the 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 onions, carrots 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 burn.
  2. Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, salt, pepper, beans, lentils, 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, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you used.
  3. Use a ladle to transfer about 1 cup of the beans and veggies 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 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, 8 to 12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used (follow timing on the package). 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 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 the blender 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 to 2 cups of water or chicken broth and thin to the desired consistency (the longer the soup sits on the stove, the thicker it will get). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired. Note that as the finished soup sits on the stove, the pasta and beans will continue to soak up the broth. If it gets too thick, you can thin it with a bit of broth or water.
  7. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: This soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. However, keep in mind that the pasta and beans will continue to absorb the broth over time, so they may become softer and the soup thicker. If you don't plan on serving the soup immediately, I recommend cooking the pasta separately and adding it to individual servings. The soup can also be frozen, without the pasta, for up to 3 months. Before serving, defrost the soup in the refrigerator overnight and then reheat 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 refrigerated or 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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Comments

  • This soup is delicious and followed the recipe. Thank you so much for another superb recipe that pleases many! The meat lover in the family requested a meat addition next time which will be soon. What meat or sausage do you suggest Jenn? and when would it be added to the soup?

    • — Rebecca on October 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Rebecca, Glad this was a hit! Just to clarify — you’d like to add meat in addition to the pancetta?

      • — Jenn on October 3, 2022
      • Reply
      • Yes, meat in addition to pancetta. Thanks so much.

        • — Rebecca on October 3, 2022
        • Reply
        • You could cook Italian sausage links, slice them into bite-sized pieces, and then add them to the soup right before serving. I’d love to hear how it turns out with this addition!

          • — Jenn on October 5, 2022
          • Reply
  • Fabulous. As usual with any soup, it benefitted from an hour or so to mellow.
    Serve with Jenn’s cider vinegar/apple/manchego salad, but substituted fresh local baby spinach for arugula.
    Leftovers with chicken sandwiches were terrific.

    • — Kaci on October 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was awesome! I’ve tried so many other recipes, they were all good but this is the best. I love all your recipes!

    • — Kim on October 2, 2022
    • Reply
    • First time making this soup. Won’t be the last. Delicious

      • — Karen on October 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • Soup was delightful as was the salad. Did not make the focaccia. I took the advice and bought pre-diced pancetta. Time saver, yes. Mine was diced very tiny. It seemed to have dissolved into the soup. The advantage to that is that it added a richness to the soup. Downside was you couldn’t identify and enjoy the pancetta. I served with crusty French bread and salad. Wonderful fall dinner with leftovers to enjoy.

    • — ML Nado on October 2, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was the perfect soup for a chilly, rainy day. Just delicious!

    • — Jeanne on October 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi, Jenn,
    My family does not like rosemary. Can I substitute thyme instead? If yes, how much fresh thyme should I use? How much dried thyme? Thanks! Can’t wait to make this!

    • — Chris on October 1, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Chris, Definitely, I think thyme would be equally good. I’d use one teaspoon dried. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2022
      • Reply
  • This looks wonderful and I plan to make it in a couple of days. Jenn, what could I substitute for the wine to still achieve a great flavour? Absolutely no alcohol in anything for one family member. Thanks for your suggestions! 😊

    • — Lucy on September 30, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Lucy, It’s perfectly fine to just leave it out; the soup will still be full of flavor.

      • — Jenn on October 1, 2022
      • Reply
  • Delicious! The soup all came together quickly. My husband love it and kept saying “this is really good”. We will be making it again. Thank you another great recipe Jenn.

    • — Scotchgirl on September 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe on a whim and BOY OH BOY am I glad I did! I substituted bacon for pancetta and added kale at the end of the pasta time because my garden is bursting with it. I rarely make the same thing more than once, but this one will become my “go to” this fall and winter. I can hardly wait to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. DELICIOUS.

    • — Cheryl on September 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • No lentils

    • — Michael Lagana on September 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    My family loves this soup and I make it often. I do need to watch my sodium so I use low sodium chicken stock instead. There is plenty of salt between the pancetta, beans and canned tomatoes. We always add grated pecorino to ours also.
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe 💕Chris

    • — Chris on September 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – I have made this soup several times and it is delicious…I am all out of pancetta and am wondering if cubed ham will work as a substitute…if not I will leave out and prepare a vegetarian version ..

    • — Geri on September 25, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Geri, Glad you like it! It won’t taste quite as smokey, but cubed ham will work. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I love your site and have enjoyed so many of your recipes! Thank you so much! Quick question related to freezing the pasta e fagioli. It was not clear to me from the freezer instructions whether I should go ahead and add the bean purée back to the soup before freezing? In the standard recipe, it is added after the pasta cooks in the soup, but in the freezer instructions you are supposed to cook the pasta in the soup after thawing. Curious when the optimal time is to add the purée when freezing. Should I freeze the purée separately? Thank you. So kind of you to respond to your followers’ questions.

    • — Jen W. on September 22, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jen, Sorry for any confusion – it’s fine for you to add the puréed beans into the soup prior to freezing. (And so glad to her you like the recipes!)

      • — Jenn on September 23, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    I would like to make this soup for dinner this evening and was wondering if I could use gluten free pasta or will that change the thickness of the soup? Thanks.

    • — Jenna B. From SF on September 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Jenna, I think I’m weighing too late to help, but for the record, I think gluten-free pasta would be fine. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • Hi,
    Do you remove the pancetta after rendering the fat? I love your recipes and your cookbook. Next, is the rye bread withe currants!
    Barb

    • — Barb Carrier on July 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes and thanks for your support of the cookbook! You actually leave the pancetta in the pot and then add the onions, carrots, and celery. Hope you enjoy the soup!

      • — Jenn on July 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is probably the saltiest soup I’ve ever made. Next time i would probably omit the salt entirely and add it to taste at the end.

    • — David on June 29, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hello Jennifer
    I absolutely love this recipe!
    But I am wondering how I could make this vegetarian. Would you have any suggestions?
    Thank you so much!

    • — Sandy on June 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Sandy, You can use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth and just omit the pancetta. It will still be delish!

      • — Jenn on June 22, 2022
      • Reply
      • Thank YOU!

        • — Sandy M on June 22, 2022
        • Reply
      • That was kind of a no brainer!!!

        • — Sandy M on June 22, 2022
        • Reply
    • I made this recipe vegan. Imagine Brand has a vegetarian No- Chicken low sodium broth. Minimalist Baker has an easy recipe for Vegan parm. Just leave out the pancetta. So good.

      • — Danielle on July 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • Delish

    • — Enza Lo Giudice
    • Reply
  • Fantastic! Definitely a keeper.

  • I absolutely love love love this soup!! So easy to make, yet incredibly favorful. Of course in our family, we go heavy on the crushed red pepper when serving! Delish!

  • I absolutely love this soup and needed to figure a way to freeze small portions that I could easily reheat. I cooked small elbow macaroni separately, very very al dente. Then after both the soup and pasta had cooled, I put the elbows in the bottom of the container with the soup on top before freezing. It worked well. The pasta held its shape without soaking up too much liquid. Yum! Making another batch during today’s blizzard.

  • I made this recently and the family really enjoyed it. So delicious and comforting!

  • First of all, I LOVE ALL of Your recipes! This is one of my Top Favorites: it’s absolutely Delicious Every time I make it & Everyone Loves it!!! I have shared it with numerous friends & family members. Thank You for sharing 5⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Recipes 💕💕 This soup has become a weekly staple, especially in winter!! You can make so many additions/ but it’s absolutely perfect the way it is: 🥰 THANK YOU👩‍🍳

  • Made tonight. Super filling and yummy. Have plenty of leftovers to eat for the week when fam is gone. Yay – no cooking for me!

  • Question: we have one kid allergic to lentils, would flavor be similar if I cooked them separately, and added to the others when serving?? Thanks! This looks like dinner tonight on a snowy, cold day!🥰

    • Hi Katie, the flavor will be slightly different, but it will still be delicious. Hope you enjoy!

  • Is there anything I can substitute for the white wine? I am cooking this for a pregnant woman and am not sure if all the alcohol would cook off.

    • Hi Stephanie, I think it’s fine to use the wine here as the alcohol should cook off (and it’s a small amount). That said, if you’re not comfortable with it, I think you can get away with omitting it. I hope the soup comes out nicely!

  • I know that adding the pasta to the soup works to thicken it, but if I were to boil pasta separately and add, would that make any leftovers more long lasting? Or maybe this just isn’t the soup for that.

    • Hi Barbara, If you keep the cooked pasta and the soup separate and add pasta to each serving at the end of reheating the soup, that should be fine!

  • Made as directed except used ham. Salt adjusted to a quarter teaspoon was perfect.
    We absolutely loved! Another 5 Star recipe!

  • Love your recipes! Question on this soup. What can I substitute for the pancetta? Would turkey bacon work & if so how should I prepare it? Thank you.

    • So glad you like the recipes! Turkey bacon would work here; I would follow the directions in the recipe but keep in mind that it probably won’t take the full five minutes to cook as the pancetta does and won’t render as much fat. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

  • This may be a sleeper recipe but it is absolutely over the top. Rich, deep flavor that begs for a nice crusty bread, greens dressed with oil and vinegar and, of course, a hearty red wine.

  • hi Jen,

    i tried the recipe and it was delish, the puree of the veggies is key. thanks so much.

    david

    • — david carl lucchesi
    • Reply
  • Best pasta e fagioli I’ve ever had. A family favourite.
    The rosemary is key! So tasty

  • Another great recipe! My husband loved it and asked me to do tons of it 😅.

  • I made the Pasta e Fagioli and it was delicious! Like so many others, I’m so happy I found you. I just found a bunch of great ideas for Thanksgiving sides which will be great anytime!

  • HI JENN I LOVE THIS SOUP! ONE OF MY FAVORITES! I WANT TO MAKE IT TODAY BUT REALIZE I ONLY HAVE CRUSHED TOMATOTES WILL THAT MESS THE SOUP UP?
    THANKS SO MUCH
    MELISSA

    • Glad you like it! The soup will have a slightly different texture, but you can get away with crushed tomatoes if that’s all you have on hand.

  • This soup is amazing, and was just the nourishing staple I needed during a busy week. It’s hearty but has a great depth of flavor. I had the briefest of lunch breaks the last couple of days and was so thankful to have this delicious, warming soup on hand.

    A couple tweaks I made to save a few dollars: I used dried rosemary, and if you do this you won’t want to use a whole tablespoon. I also used Better Than Bouillon and cut down on the amount of added salt. I might try using ditalini next time since Jenn is correct and the noodles do absorb a lot of liquid, but otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing! Standout recipe.

  • 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.

  • 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
    • Reply
  • Would canned lentils work in place of dried?

    • 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!

  • Could I add chicken or beef to the soup ? If so, what type of either would you recommend?
    Thanks

    • Sure, Diane, I think shredded rotisserie chicken would work nicely here.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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
    • 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.

  • Really enjoyed this soup

  • 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!

  • 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
    • 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

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

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