Pasta e Fagioli, also known as pasta fazool, or pasta and beans, is one of the most iconic Italian-American comfort foods.  It’s simple to make, budget-friendly, and full of wonderful flavor and texture from cannellini beans, pancetta, Parmigiano Reggiano, ditalini pasta, and rosemary. 

Pasta e fagioli in black bowl with spoon and rosemary sprig garnish.


Editor’s Note: Originally Published on November 6, 2018.  Updated with full process shots and expanded info. 

Pasta fagioli, or pasta e fagioli, or as we say in New York, pasta fazool, is a hearty soup consisting of borlotti (cranberry beans) or cannellini beans and any tiny pasta shape.

There are many versions and variations of this dish and as with many of our recipes, we encourage you to use this recipe as a base and adapt as you see fit.  

For example, my grandma did not use pancetta or rosemary in her version, but we love the flavors they add so we use them in this recipe.

They are both optional, and omitting the pancetta will make this dish vegetarian.

Pasta fazool is hearty so it is a meal unto itself but we love to serve it with a green salad and some crusty Italian bread, or garlic bread!

Want to learn more?  We discuss the roots of this dish and why some call it pasta fazool versus pasta e fagioli in episode 18 of The Sip and Feast Podcast – Pasta Fazool.

Ingredients shown: cannellini beans, pancetta, garlic, Parmigiano rinds, onion, ditalini pasta, plum tomatoes, and rosemary sprig.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Dice one medium-sized onion and 4 ounces of pancetta.  Slice 5 cloves of garlic (Photo #1)
Pasta e fagioli recipe process shot collage group number one.
  1. In a large heavy pot, saute the pancetta in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 7-10 minutes over medium heat or until the pancetta has rendered most of its fat (Photo #2). Note: If omitting the pancetta use 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil.
  2. Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more or until just golden.  Add the 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more (Photo #3).
Recipe process shot collage group number two.
  1. Hand crush 3 large canned plum tomatoes and add to the onion and pancetta mixture (Photo #4)Note: That’s 3 tomatoes from 1 can – that’s all!
  2. Add 6 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and give it a stir.  Add 1 sprig of rosemary (optional).  Add 3 16-ounce cans of drained cannellini beans, a rind of Parmigiano Reggiano (optional), and bring to a boil for 5 minutes (Photo #5).  
Recipe process shot collage group number three.
  1. Lower the heat to medium and crush some of the beans by smashing them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.  If you’d like a creamier consistency, use an immersion blender for about 5-10 seconds (remove the rosemary sprig before you blend), or blend 1/3 of the beans in a regular blender.  Don’t blend too much though as you still want some of the whole beans for your soup (Photo #6).   
  2. Once the soup is at the consistency you want, add 2 cups of uncooked ditalini pasta and cook until al dente.  Keep an eye on the pot and stir frequently to avoid sticking.  The pasta will absorb much of the liquid so add more water as needed.  The final consistency of pasta e fagioli is entirely a personal preference.  If you prefer it to be soupier, add more water (Photo #7). Note:  If you’re planning to make a large amount of soup for 1 person and plan to have leftovers, cook the pasta separately as it may become mushy the longer it sits in the soup.
Recipe process shot collage group number four.
  1. Once the pasta is al dente, turn off the heat and taste test. Adjust salt, pepper, and hot red pepper to taste (Photo #8)Note:  you will likely need a good amount more salt, depending on your taste.  Once you’re happy with the taste, serve the pasta e fagioli in bowls with crusty bread.  Serve with grated cheese, hot red pepper flakes, and a drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil.  Enjoy!
Large wooden ladle holding pasta fagioli over Dutch oven pot.

Top Tips

  • The beans. Traditionally borlotti beans are used but cannellini beans are easier to find and great for the “fagioli” in pasta e fagioli.  For our method, we used an immersion blender to yield a thicker consistency.  If you’d like a thinner consistency, skip the blending and simply use the flat part of a wooden spoon to smash the beans on the side of the pot. If you find you’ve gone a bit blender happy with an immersion blender and have no more whole beans left, you can open an additional can of beans and add them to the soup.
  • The pasta.  Any small pasta shape will do for pasta fazool. We are using ditalini (tubetti) but you can also use small shells, farfalline, elbows, or even broken spaghetti in a pinch! 
  • The cheese.  Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rinds add great flavor to add to soups and we recommend using them if you have.  If not, do not worry!  You can simply add grated Parmigiano Reggiano to the soup and it will still taste great.  Also, if you prefer to use Pecorino instead of Parmigiano, you can do so but since Pecorino is saltier, be mindful of that when adding additional salt and as always, be sure to taste test!
  • Adaptations.  As mentioned above, you can definitely omit the pancetta to make this a vegetarian pasta e fagioli.  As for the rosemary, if you don’t like it you can omit it entirely. Rosemary is strong-tasting herb and will definitely impart a great deal of flavor to the dish so if it’s not your thing, don’t use it.  If you’d like additional flavor, you can use low sodium chicken broth instead of water.  Lastly, if you are planning to make this ahead of time, or only plan to eat a small amount while saving the rest for leftovers, consider making the pasta separately as it may become mushy.  
Overhead shot of two bowls of pasta fagioli and block of parmesan on cutting board.

More simple recipes you’ll love

If you’re a fan of pasta fazool, we think you’ll enjoy these other comforting recipes, most of which can be made with pantry staples.

If you’ve enjoyed this Pasta e Fagioli Recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.

We strive to satisfy a number of learning styles.  If you are someone who prefers to learn by watching, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Pasta Fagioli

4.95 from 91 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Pasta fagioli is a comforting Italian-American soup made with cannellini beans, ditalini pasta, tomato, pancetta, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 16 ounce cans cannellini beans drained, but don't rinse
  • 6 cups water to start but add more as needed
  • 3 canned plum tomatoes hand crushed, note: just 3 plum tomatoes from 1 can – that's it!
  • 1 sprig rosemary optional
  • 2 cups ditalini pasta or small shells, elbows, etc
  • 1 Parmigiano rind optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • In a large heavy pot saute the pancetta in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 7-10 minutes over medium heat or until the pancetta has rendered most of its fat.
  • Next, add in the onions and saute for 5 minutes then add in the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes more until just golden. Finally, add the hot red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Next, add in 6 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and the plum tomatoes and give it all a stir. Add in the drained beans, the rosemary if using, and the Parmigiano Reggiano rind (if you don’t have one, you can use a bit of grated cheese or just omit) and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
  • Lower the heat to medium and crush some of the beans by smashing them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. For a creamier consistency use an immersion blender, or spoon 1/3 of the beans into a regular blender and pulse. If using an immersion blender, remove the rosemary sprig and parm rind before blending. Don't blend too much so that some of the whole bean texture is maintained. Make sure to do this step before adding the pasta!
  • Add in the pasta and cook until al dente. Keep an eye on the pot and stir very frequently to avoid sticking. The pasta will absorb much of the liquid so add more water as needed. The final consistency of the pasta e fagioli is 100% a personal preference. If you like it soupier, add more water!
  • Once the pasta is al dente turn off the heat and taste test. Adjust salt (will probably need a good amount), pepper, and hot red pepper to taste.
  • When satisfied with the taste, serve in bowls with crusty bread. Offer grated cheese, hot red pepper flakes, or black pepper on the side and drizzle some high-quality extra virgin olive onto each bowl. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Pasta shapes like ditalini, small shells, elbows, and farfalline are all great choices.  Even broken spaghetti works!
  • If you plan to have leftovers, be sure to cook the pasta separately.  Otherwise, it’s better to cook the pasta in the sauce to better absorb the flavors.
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 603kcal | Carbohydrates: 90.7g | Protein: 32.1g | Fat: 11.6g | Saturated Fat: 2.9g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 437mg | Potassium: 127mg | Fiber: 14.1g | Sugar: 3.1g | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!Check us out on Instagram at @sipandfeast or tag #sipandfeast!

This recipe was originally published on November 6, 2018.  It was completely updated on July 20, 2022.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

159 Comments

  1. Dean Greenwald says:

    5 stars
    Bro! Seriously… Awesome. Just made a pot of this. A-frigging-mazing. 2 changes, I slice my garlic like they do in Good Fellas. I just like the look of it in the finished meal. And I added about a half a teaspoon of oregano. I feel like a lot of dishes in the world are missing this one common spice.

    Mind Blown. Poof. Thank you Jim.

    1. Tara says:

      So happy you enjoyed, Dean! Thanks for the comment!

  2. Robert says:

    5 stars
    Fantastic recipe, spot on directions, many thanks.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Robert, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed!

    2. Annette says:

      Can you do this in a slow cooker?

      1. Tara says:

        Yes, it can be however, we suggest boiling the pasta separately and adding it at the end.

  3. Dragica Branica says:

    5 stars
    Volim Vaše recepte,i detaljan opis i tijek rada do kraja,super ste,pratim vas već dugo.

    1. Tara says:

      Thank you so much!

  4. Nikki Willis says:

    5 stars
    Some Of the best pasta fagiole I’ve ever had! I only made one minor change, and that was to use unsalted chicken stock instead of water because I prefer the flavor but other than that no changes. This was perfection.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Nikki, we appreciate the comment and so happy you enjoyed!

  5. Tracey says:

    5 stars
    What a delicious recipe! I followed the recipe the best I could with what I had, and my hubby loved it. I had only 2 cans of cannellini beans, so I used only 4 cups of water. I bought some precut combo onions, celery, and carrots. I used a handful of the carrots and celery, and cut up half an onion. I used 2 huge garlic cloves, and 2 bay leaves. I didn’t have crushed pepper flakes, but regular ground pepper worked fine. I also added a little bit of tomato sauce from a small can. I cooked the pasta separately from the soup. I’ll make this more frequently.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Tracey, we’re so happy you enjoyed and really appreciate the comment!

  6. Andrea says:

    Great recipe. Can’t wait to make.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Andrea, thanks for the comment and hope you enjoy!

  7. MaryAnn says:

    Love your recipes and your natural way of presenting them.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi MaryAnn, we’re so happy you’re enjoying the recipes and really appreciate the comment!

  8. Deb Anand says:

    Great recipe but I often get the “skins” from the beans in my soup. What can I do about that?

  9. Gina Damato says:

    5 stars
    Looks amazing !

    1. Tara says:

      Hi Gina, thanks for the comment and hope you enjoy!

  10. CDeacons says:

    5 stars
    You didn’t mention when to add the Rosemary so I tossed it in with the beans. I’ve made this recipe three or four times and always forget the Rosemary. Good stuff, thx.

    1. Tara says:

      Hi there, see step 5 in the process shots – you’ll see Jim’s hand adding the rosemary sprig to the pot. Glad you’ve enjoyed this one a few times, and thanks for the comment!