Pasta e Fagioli

A traditional peasant recipe that is a great, stick to your ribs dish, Pasta e fagioli or pasta fagioli, simply means “pasta and beans”, referring to the two main ingredients in the dish. This traditional Italian favorite started as a peasant dish due to being composed of very inexpensive ingredients and most often is one dish that would be prepared at home for family, and not guests. Today Pasta e Fagioli can be widely found even in restaurants, although it may be pronounced pasta fazool in the United States.

Pasta fagioli is commonly made using cannellini beans or borlotti beans and some type of small pasta such as elbow macaroni or ditalini. The base is generally olive oil, garlic, minced onion, and spices, along with stewed tomato or tomato paste, and some broth or water, although some variations do not include tomatoes at all, and are made from only broth. Modern restaurant recipes may be vegetarian, or include an Italian meat such as prosciutto or pancetta as I have used in my version. If you want a vegetarian version of this dish, simply skip adding the pancetta, and use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. I add onions, carrots, and celery to my recipe, although I keep them chopped small so that the beans and pasta remain the stars of this dish.

This recipe also varies greatly based on the region or town in which it is prepared, as well as depending on available ingredients. The consistency of the dish can vary, as some renditions fall clearly in the soup category, usually because the tomato was left out, while others are much thicker and would be considered more of a pasta dish. There is always a debate whether this dish should be included in the soup or pasta category, so I am including it in both!

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Pin It

 

Pasta e Fagiole

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

A traditional Italian dish made of pasta and beans that was born out of peasant cooking.

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
1 Large Carrot, Finely Chopped
2 Celery Stalks, Finely Chopped
1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Pancetta or Bacon (Optional)
6 Peeled, Seeded and Chopped Ripe Roma Tomatoes (or About 1 (14 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes)
1 Quart Chicken Broth
2 (14 Ounce) Tins Cannellini Beans (or Equivalent, Prepared From Dried)
1 1/4 Cup Small Pasta (Tubettini or Ditalini)
1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper
Dash Of Red Pepper Flakes
To Serve:
Good Quality Olive Oil
Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Chopped Parsley

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot, then cook the onion, carrot, pancetta, and celery until soft.
Add the garlic and cook another minute.
Pour in the broth, beans and chopped tomatoes, and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove a few scoops of the bean mixture and puree or mash, then return to the pot.
Add the pasta, chopped parsley and seasonings.
Cook until the pasta is cooked al dente.
Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil, the shaved cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.



 

26 Responses to “Pasta e Fagioli”

  1. 1
    Cheoy Lee — January 16, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

    A hearty dish, I really like this.

    [Reply]

  2. 2
    Anna @ the shady pine — January 18, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

    This is my kind of dish! I can’t wait for the weather to get cooler here so I can tuck in and start making some soup!

    [Reply]

  3. 3
    Jim Capozziello — January 19, 2012 @ 10:06 am

    I haven’t made this recipe, but it sounds pretty close to what Dad makes — and Dad’s is pretty unbeatable! Dad uses Italian sausage instead of pancetta. The pot empties pretty quick. I’ll be making this recipe very soon — with the sausage substitution. I am my father’s son!

    [Reply]

    Kate from Pacific NW Reply:

    My ex was pretty much second generation Italian, from Conneticut, and he made a MEAN pasta fazool! (Or as he would pronounce it, “Pasta Vazool”) His always made his with Italian sausage too, plus high quality pepperoni (not too much!) YumYum, the good ol’ days…I might make this dish soon, before Spring sets in…

    [Reply]

  4. 4
    AdriBarr — January 19, 2012 @ 10:32 am

    Ciao Deborah,

    This is my first comment on your site – and long overdue it is! My father, whose own dad emigrated from Montesilvano in Abruzzo in the early twentieth century just loved “Pasta fazool”. It was a dish that was not entrusted to my mother to prepare. Oh no. Dad made it, and enjoyed every second he spent at the stove. And interestingly enough even within his family there were variations on the theme; my dad preferred it without tomato, but his brother Dean added tomato. Go figure! I wrote about this dish and others in an article called Dad’s Favorite Dishes, and as I was preparing my notes, what really struck me is, as you noted, this dish, formerly the province of home cooks and a staple of la cucina povera, is now served in the very toniest of restaurants – sometimes at $24.00 per bowl. My dad would just be amazed. Reading your recipe this morning made me think of my dad, Bill Crocetti, and that made me smile. Grazie, Deborah, for a terrific post and for some terrific memories. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    [Reply]

  5. 5
    Gian Banchero — January 19, 2012 @ 10:33 am

    “Pasta fazoi” as the Piemontese side of my family calls the soup/pasta. As for me the dish isn’t authentic unless long home made eggless noodles are used, not being one to whip up a batch of such noodles at a moment’s notice I use Chinese flour and water noodles which are a perfect substitute… Once the soup has finished cooking then a goodly amount of strong garlicky pesto is introduced, ah, then tutto e’ a posto. During winter olive oil is drizzled over the “minestra”, during summer good strong red wine vinegar is used which is delicious.

    [Reply]

  6. 6
    Maurizio Bianchi — January 19, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

    Well…..its Super Bowl time again and it really is time to refresh and shed those old and tired American Super Bowl favourite foods like Chili…Chicken wings…Sausage..etc…. This year we’re turning it Canadian Italian…Im preparing a meal for 20 or so….and its Pasta e Fagioli…Italian Crusty bread…Anit-Pasto Misto…Italian deli meats….Pasta Aglio e Olio…etc….oh….yes….and lots of Vino……. and if the Super Bowl gets boring…we’ll turn on the Italian Soccer Game…. !!!!!! To All Our American Friends… Buon Appettito………….

    [Reply]

    Joanne Reply:

    Way to goooooo Maurizio!!!!!. Now that sounds like a fantastic plan…I want to be invited… lol….Enjoy!!!!!!

    [Reply]

  7. 7
    Cathy Nassr — January 21, 2012 @ 12:49 pm

    First, totally LOVE the new website! The photography is beautiful! Makes me want to try EVERYTHING! Secondly, making this wonderful soup today as we have had our first snow fall of the winter! And lastly, could not agree with Maurizio more! Always whip up a huge pot of “Sunday Sauce” with everything but the kithcen sink on Super Bowl Sunday! My husband loves me extra special that day!

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    Thanks Cathy, I appreciate that! I love the new design too. Lindsay of Purr design did a great job.

    [Reply]

  8. 8
    Ann Marie Viggiano — January 2, 2013 @ 12:20 pm

    This recipe is PERFECT! Since we ate this on Friday and especially Good Friday, it was always meatless. If you really want a thick broth, cover the pot, remove it from the stove and let it rest for about an hour or two (if you can wait that long!!) The starches release some more. When you’re ready to serve, heat it up. This was my dad’s favorite, too, and he liked his with thinly sliced onion, Parm cheese, more red pepper flakes (yikes!!) and crusty bread. If you want to have some fun, put in both cannellini and red kidney beans. So pretty! Happy New Year Everyone!!

    [Reply]

  9. 9
    JudithQ — January 2, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

    Ciao Bella, In cottura you are la Famiglin, sorella…Cottura in cucina!
    somewhat translated…
    beautiful lady, you are my family,sister whilst cooking in the kitchen.
    Your recipes are our family’s table, in Italy and america!
    Grazie,

    [Reply]

  10. 10
    George Franke — January 2, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

    I haven’t made pasta fagioli since I retired from the Fire Department 12 years ago,. So to double check the recipe and make sure my memory served me right I went online. Oh my goodness you should see the stuff they are trying to pass off as pasta fagioli!!!! Recipes using ground beef, some using kidney beans, even one using spirals for pasta.

    When I opened your page and seen the first picture I said, “THATS PASTA FAGIOLI!” and when I read the recipe all the ingredients came back to me…The ditalini, the bacon, the tomatoes, the cannellini beans.

    Thanks for posting the RIGHT and BEST pasta fagioli recipe, I’m gonna go write it down so I don’t forget it 12 years from now!

    George

    [Reply]

    Joanne Reply:

    George, this dish deserves to be made more often than every 12 years, a sure way to learn it by heart and never forget it… lol… Bon Appetit!!!!

    [Reply]

  11. 11
    Pia Ziano — January 22, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

    Ciao! I made the pasta fagioli tonight. I used Great Northern Beans instead of Cannolini and I used diced tomatoes because these are what I had in the cupboard. It came out great. I never got my Mom’s recipe before she died. Your recipe is pretty close! It was very good!!! Thanks for posting yours! Love your site!

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    Thanks Pia, I appreciate the feedback!

    [Reply]

  12. 12
    Lynne — January 27, 2013 @ 7:21 pm

    My first attempt at this dish and “oh my” what a success it was! Being Irish I was worried I could pull off such an authentic Italian dish successfully– and succeed I did thanks to this perfect recipe. I’ve just pinned this to my “PIN ” board and will be making this at least 2-3 more times this winter. Thanks for such a great, easy recipe!

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    Lynne, so happy to hear it turned out for you.

    [Reply]

  13. 13
    Lea — February 8, 2013 @ 4:52 pm

    I have been meaning to comment on so many of your dishes- because I am obsessed with your blog! My mother is from Sicily and I grew up on authentic Italian cooking – and I love to cook myself as well- typically when I cook I pick a dish I want to make and then go to a few different websites to make my own- but your dishes I very rarely make any changes! They are just perfect and creative!

    That being said I made this Pasta Fagioli today and it was incredible! My Fiancee said it was the best he has ever had in his life and he loves Pasta Fagioli soup so THANK YOU for this wonderful recipe- and all the other ones I have tried! Keep them coming!

    [Reply]

  14. 14
    tracy — April 13, 2013 @ 11:01 pm

    My mother in law and Her mother in law who taught her used a ham bone as a componant of the broth. So amazing the smokiness of the ham and the beans and the tomato. Amazing!

    [Reply]

  15. 15
    Amanda Bachecki — November 11, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

    This is the first recipe for Paste e Fagiloe that was exactly how I remember it. No ground beef! The only problem I seem to have when I make any pasta with soup, it that the soup absorbs all my liquid and it gets really thick. Any tips?

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    This dish always thickens as it sits. You can simply loosen the pasta with some chicken broth.

    [Reply]

  16. 16
    Lori — February 1, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

    Just finished my first bowl….delicious!!! Although some of the beans were not fully cooked. I used canned so not sure why. I definitely cooked it for at least 15 min on med-low heat before adding the pasta. Omitted the pancetta but otherwise very good and this will be my new Pasta e Fagioli!! I’m just worried now that the pasta will take over the soup. Have a lot left and there’s only 3 of us. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    Lori, you almost always have to add more liquid if you refrigerate the soup.

    [Reply]

  17. 17
    Linda Tonyes — February 20, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

    This is a great recipe. I make it all the time omitting the pancetta. I do tend to use more broth or stock to keep it a more soup-like consistency. Definitely need to add more broth when reheating the next day. Don’t skip the drizzle of olive oil and grated cheese before serving. It makes the dish.

    [Reply]

  18. 18
    Patricia — March 28, 2014 @ 8:30 pm

    I just made pasta and beans tonight – a great dish for a Friday in Lent. The version my parents and relatives used is the simplest of all – take your good sauce, thin it a little bit if necessar, cook the pasta (usually elbows or penne) add drained and rinsed kidney beans (or cannellini beans or both) and sprinkle with pepper, salt and parmesan cheese.

    This is one of my favorite dishes, and before you dismiss me as a total culinary rube, let me defend myself and say I pursue all sorts of cuisines, read about them in depth, enjoy fine restaurants, make my own breads, grow my own herbs, and one of my favorite pastime is cooking. Still one of my favorite meals of all is my family’s simple version of “pasta fazool.” I would come home from college, and my mother would call me the day before: What can I make? Oh, Mom, make me pasta fazool!

    Pasta fazool? That’s all you want???? Yes!

    I guess it’s like Southerners and their grits, which they swoon over, and the rest of us simply don’t get. Make mine “pasta fazool” – it’s the most comforting comfort food I know.

    [Reply]

Leave a Comment