Our pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) is an Italian dinner favorite with a mix of beans, ditalini pasta, and a rich tomato sauce.
It's an easy and comforting meal with simple ingredients and flavors that will please everyone around your table, kids and adults alike.
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Pasta e fagioli makes the coziest family dinner ever. You can make it with simple and affordable ingredients, yet it tastes fantastic, and it's incredibly warming and nourishing.
Pasta and beans provide plenty of wholesome plant protein and other nutrients to help you stay satiated and fulfilled for several hours.
You might know pasta fagioli soup from Olive Garden, an Italian restaurant, but in reality, this recipe goes back hundreds of years to mainland Italy.
To make it, we first prepare a flavor base of olive oil, onion, carrot, garlic, tomato paste, sage, rosemary, and bay leaves.
Then, we toss in drained canned beans - we like to use cranberry beans, pinto beans, or red kidney beans - vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, and season with salt and black pepper.
Finally, we let it simmer for 10 minutes, then add the pasta and cook it for another 12 minutes until al dente.
You can serve pasta e fagioli as a soup, with enough liquid to grant the use of a spoon, or thicker, more like a pasta dish.
Honestly, you are going to feel amazing after eating this dish. It's healthy, nourishing, satiating, and super tasty!
You can make pasta e fagioli with canned beans or with dry beans. For a quick version, use canned beans, and you'll be able to make this recipe in about 30 minutes.
If you want to use dry beans, let them soak for 12 hours in water with a teaspoon of baking soda. Then drain them, rinse them, and boil them in plenty of salted water for about 80 minutes or until tender.
Use pinto beans, cranberry beans, or red kidney beans. Cranberry beans are most traditional.
Traditionally, most people in Italy use ditalini or ditaloni pasta for pasta e fagioli. You can find it in most supermarkets in the pasta section.
If you can't find or don't have ditalini in your pantry, feel free to use any other short pasta type. We particularly like conchiglie, elbow macaroni, cavatelli, and fusilli.
For making gluten-free pasta e fagioli soup, use gluten-free pasta.
We use extra virgin olive oil to make the flavor base with the chopped vegetables listed below.
Authenticity Note: In the traditional Italian recipe, a small amount (about 3.5 ounces or 100 grams) of fat-rich animal products (pancetta, lard, guanciale, prosciutto) are used for frying the veggies and adding flavor to this dish.
We prefer to keep the recipe vegetarian, without the meat; however, if you want to add it, do so at the beginning with the olive oil. There's no ground beef or bacon in pasta and fagioli.
Carrot, celery, and onion
Those veggies are chopped and gently fried in extra virgin olive oil, adding plenty of flavor to the dish. You can use red, white, or yellow onion.
Garlic and Herbs
Garlic cloves - peeled and grated - a sprig of rosemary, sage leaves, and a couple of bay leaves add that earthy Tuscan flavor to this dish. Please don't skimp on the herbs; they are the soul of pasta e fagioli.
You can substitute thyme and oregano for rosemary and bay leaves. As a last resort, you can use Italian seasoning.
We add canned crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes. We also add some tomato paste to boost the umami and flavor of the soup.
Vegetable broth helps us cook the pasta and create a tasty sauce. We prefer it to chicken broth. If you are on a low-sodium diet, feel free to use reduced-sodium vegetable broth.
Salt and pepper
We recommend sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. To make the soup slightly spicy, you can add red pepper flakes.
Finely chop celery, onion, and carrot. Gently fry them for 3 minutes with olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven.
Add grated garlic, chopped sage, the rosemary sprig, bay leaves, tomato paste, and fry for 2 more minutes.
Add drained and rinsed beans, vegetable broth, and canned tomatoes, and season with salt and black pepper.
Simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes, then stir in the pasta and simmer for another 10 to 12 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
Tip: we recommend undercooking the pasta slightly, especially if you plan to make this for meal prep.
Authenticity note: the original Italian recipe of pasta e fagioli calls for blending a cup of beans before adding the pasta. You can do so with an immersion blender. However, we prefer to skip this step since this dish is already rich without blending the beans.
Add more broth if you like a thinner, more soupy pasta e fagioli. Consistency is a matter of preference for this dish. You can have it as thin or as thick as you like.
Serve in a bowl with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Serve pasta e fagioli as a main dish for a wholesome and tasty dinner. You can save the leftovers and serve them the day after for a quick lunch.
If you want to pair it with something bready, we recommend:
- Rosemary focaccia with our easy no-knead method
- 10-minute crostini: a perfect soup partner to sop up those saucy leftovers
- Homemade croutons: a 20-minute recipe that shows you how to cook croutons at home
- Slow-roasted tomatoes make a delightful veggie topping for soups and pasta
Or serve it with vegetable side dishes, such as:
Like pasta e fagioli, lentil pasta or pasta with lentils is a nutritious, tasty, and wholesome Italian recipe (pasta e lenticchie) where the lentils and the pasta are cooked together in one pot.
Check out our lentil pasta recipe.
Pasta and chickpeas
Another classic Italian dish, pasta and chickpeas - pasta e ceci in Italian - is an earthy and super tasty recipe to get through cold autumn and winter.
It's easy to make with the same ingredients in our pasta e fagioli. Substitute canned or cooked chickpeas for the beans.
Refrigerator: store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days. Warm up in a pot with a dash of water or vegetable broth or in the microwave for 2 minutes.
Freezer: this recipe is not suitable for freezing.
More bean recipes
If you like cooking with beans, get fresh inspiration from these wholesome recipes with beans:
- Italian bean stew with canned pinto beans and authentic Italian flavor
- 5-minute white bean dip with cannellini beans and tahini
- Tuscan bean soup with leafy greens and white beans
- Black bean salad: a Mexican-inspired salad with roasted sweet potatoes
More pasta recipes
Don't know what to cook for dinner? Try one of these pasta recipes; they're easy to make and packed with flavor:
- Mushroom pasta with chewy mushrooms, tomatoes, and tagliatelle pasta
- Garlic and oil pasta: garlic, oil, and parsley make an irresistible pasta sauce
- Tomato and basil pasta: ready in 20 minutes with ingredients you already have at home
- Easy pasta bake with rich tomato sauce and rigatoni pasta
- Lentil pasta: easy to make with staple ingredients and authentic Italian flavor
- Chickpea pasta salad: a quick lunch idea for the office or lunchbox
- Broccoli pasta: ready in just 20 minutes!
- Cauliflower pasta with parmesan cheese and roasted pine nuts
Pasta e Fagioli
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- 1 large carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3 leaves sage
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cans (15 oz each) beans kidney, pinto, or cranberry beans (or 3 cups cooked beans)
- 4 - 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1½ cup ditalini pasta or other short pasta
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Finely chop celery, onion, and carrot. Gently fry them for 3 minutes with olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven.Add grated garlic, chopped sage, the rosemary sprig, bay leaves, tomato paste, and fry for 2 more minutes.
- Add drained and rinsed beans, vegetable broth, and canned tomatoes, and season with salt and black pepper.
- Simmer on medium heat for about 15 minutes, then stir in the pasta and simmer for another 10 to 12 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.
- Tip: we recommend undercooking the pasta slightly, especially if you plan to make this for meal prep.Authenticity note: the original Italian recipe of pasta e fagioli calls for blending a cup of beans before adding the pasta. You can do so with an immersion blender. However, we prefer to skip this step since this dish is already rich without blending the beans.
- Add more broth if you like a thinner, more soupy pasta e fagioli. Consistency is a matter of preference for this dish. You can have it as thin or as thick as you like.Serve in a bowl with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
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