Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans) is a simple, hearty, Italian soup-type dish made with pasta and beans. Some of you may know this dish from your Italian relatives, friends, or local restaurants as “pasta fazool.” It’s a great vegetarian dish that is hearty, simple, and delicious!
This is a recipe I first posted in 2012. The recipe is the same, but I’ve updated the photos here. I wanted to share it again because it’s so easy to make, and it’s super-tasty, too.
Another Italian-inspired family recipe is this one for Green Beans in Tomato Sauce. It couldn’t be easier to make, and so flavorful as a side.
Everyone seems to have their own special recipe for Pasta e Fagioli, and this one is my Italian family’s (although my mom’s version is always different because she usually tosses in miscellaneous veggies she has on hand or even a ham bone for added flavor).
In fact, I just recently learned that many, many years ago my great-aunt, Zia Maria Grazie, who worked in the kitchen of an old and locally famous hotel where I grew up in Akron, Ohio (the Mayflower Hotel), taught the chef her version of Pasta e Fagioli. He liked it so much, he put it on the menu!
If you’re hungry for more simple and satisfying Italian-inspired soup recipes, try this one for Stracchiatella Soup (Italian Egg Drop Soup). It’s so easy to make!
Use elbow macaroni to make this soup. You could use a similarly-sized pasta, but I’ve always used elbow-style pasta.
For a little history: The Mayflower Hotel opened in 1931 when Akron was a vibrant industrial town. In 1935 a New York businessman named Bill Wilson stood in the hotel’s lobby, fighting the temptation to drink. “He grabbed a pay phone and started a chain of phone calls that led to a meeting with Akron physician Bob Smith. The two men, better known as Bill W. and Dr. Bob, formed Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Famous visitors of the Mayflower included Shirley Temple, Katharine Hepburn, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, and Ronald Reagan.
My dad would love that I’m sharing this recipe, although he always thought it was funny when people fussed over rustic Italian dishes that were the most simple and cost-effective — basically the “peasant food” he grew up eating in Italy because it was inexpensive and readily available.
Peasant food or not, Pasta e Fagioli will fill you up, and it makes part of a delicious, satisfying meal — especially when it’s served with rustic Italian bread and a glass of wine!
This is a vegetarian recipe but many people add pancetta to the dish for added flavor. If you add pancetta, use about 1/4 cup, cooked, and add it when you add the vegetable stock and additional ingredients to the mix. If you’re a pancetta lover, try my Pasta with Asparagus and Pancetta.
Do you have your own version of a classic dish? Try my version of Pasta e Fagioli on a cold night, or when you need a filling, delicious, and economical dish to serve!
Patricia Conte/Grab a Plate
Serves Serves 6
5 based on 7 review(s)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 2 small tomatoes, diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 3/4 cup elbow macaroni (or similar-sized pasta)
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup cooked pancetta (optional)
- 2 (15-ounce cans) cannellini, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (more for garnish if you’d like), torn into small pieces
- 1/4 cup (or a bit more) Parmesan cheese, grated
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion. Allow the onion to cook until it is tender (about 3 minutes). Add the tomato and tomato paste (if using). Stir to thin out the paste. Add the garlic and incorporate it into the mixture. Cook for just 1-2 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth, water, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (add the cooked pancetta at this time if using). Bring to a boil, then add the pasta. Lower the heat and allow the pasta to cook until it’s about 3/4 of the way finished (still slightly firm).
- Add the beans and allow the mixture to continue cooking until the pasta is fully cooked.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Serve in individual bowls with Parmesan cheese over the top.