Pasta and beans (Pasta e Fagioli) is a typical dish of traditional Italian cuisine made with short pasta and beans (even known as Pasta Fazool).
In this classic version we used ditalini pasta and borlotti beans. However the many Italian regional versions allow variations in the choice of the type of these two main ingredients.
Pasta and beans soup is a recipe that includes many different variations and seasonings, according to the regional origin. There are those who use prosciutto, those who use lard and those who use pork rind (for the famous variant of pasta and beans with pork rinds, Roman style).
Among the aromatic herbs we have laurel, thyme, parsley, marjoram and rosemary.
As for tomatoes: there are versions with tomato passata, tomato paste or fresh tomatoes, such as the Neapolitan one.
Finally, beans: they must be previously cooked. You can use canned, dried or fresh beans.
In any case, here is the most famous, easy-to-make pasta and beans recipe. At the end of this recipe you can find out how to make Italian pasta and bean soup with dried beans or fresh beans; these variants are longer to make but really excellent so keep reading!
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Pasta and Beans Recipe
- Prep Time: 10 Min
- Cook Time: 50 Min
- Servings: 6
- 200 g (7 oz) of ditalini or small pasta of your choice
- 700 g (25 oz) COOKED borlotti beans (cranberry beans) or cannellini beans (white kidney beans). That is about 600 g of fresh beans or 300 g of dried beans or 3 cans of canned beans, rinsed and drained.
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped
- 150 g (3/4 cup) of tomato passata
- 6 sage leaves
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 liter of warm vegetable broth
- fine salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- extra virgin olive oil
How to Make Pasta and Bean Soup: Directions
Step 1) – First prepare the beans, which must be cooked separately.
You can use dried or fresh beans, cooking them according to the instructions at the bottom of this recipe (read the paragraph below “How to Cook Beans”). Or you can use canned beans, rinsed and drained, as long as they are of excellent quality.
When the beans are cooked, set them aside. Then prepare the soffritto: dice the carrot and celery, chop the onion and set aside.
Step 2) – Then, in a large soup pot, sauté over medium heat in 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the garlic cloves (peeled and left whole), the rosemary sprig and the sage leaves.
When the garlic is golden brown (2/3 minutes), remove it from the soup pot; remove the sage and rosemary too.TRICK: tilt the pot a bit so that the garlic and herbs are drowned in the oil. Keep the oil directly on the heat. This will allow you to cook them more quickly and evenly.
Step 3) – Now add the chopped onion, carrot and celery you set aside. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent.
Then add the cooked beans, mix and let them flavor.
Step 4) – Add the tomato passata and stir.
Step 5) – Finally, pour in the hot broth and add the bay leaves. Mix and cook covered with a lid on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
When the soup is cooked, add salt to taste.
If the broth is already salted and the beans are canned (probably already salted), you may not need to add salt. So taste before adding more.
How to Make Pasta and Beans Creamier
Here’s a trick to make pasta e fagioli even creamier.
Step 6) – Transfer 3/4 ladles of the soup (avoiding the bay leaves) to a blender. Blend until completely smooth. Pour the blended mixture in a bowl and set aside.
Step 7) – Now add pasta to the simmering soup. Continue cooking until the pasta is cooked al dente (follow the cooking times described on the package). Stir often to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Step 8) – When the pasta is cooked, add the blended mixture, season with salt if necessary (taste it first!) and mix. As you can see, pasta and bean soup has become creamier.
All done and ready! Serve pasta and beans with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Store pasta and beans in the refrigerator for 1 day, in an airtight food container. You can keep the bean soup without the pasta for 2-3 days, always in the refrigerator.
Freezing is not recommended.
About Garlic and Herbs
Garlic is delicious and tastes very good, but its aroma is really strong and often covers up the flavors of the other ingredients. And that’s a shame. For this reason, we prefer to flavor the oil with the garlic and herbs and then remove them.
If you leave the rosemary in, it loses all the needles during cooking and then you end up with them in your mouth as you eat.
Sage also has a strong flavor if left to cook for a long time, so remove it. But if you want, you can leave it in the soup and remove it at the end, before serving, or chop it up and leave it in.
How to Use Dried Beans or Fresh Beans in Beans and Pasta Soup
Italian tradition is rich in recipes for pasta and beans. Every region has its own recipe which is passed down from generation to generation.
A recipe so loved that we have a summer version, made with fresh beans.
All the variations, or at least those that respect tradition, have in common the choice of fresh or dried beans.
Use canned beans only in case you have little time to make this recipe.
How to Cook Beans
If you use DRIED BEANS, you need to soak them for at least 12 hours (maybe the previous night) so that they soften.
While if you use FRESH BEANS soaking is not necessary.
Then transfer the beans into a high and large pot. Cover the beans with cold water, add two sage leaves, a clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon of coarse salt and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
Cook for 60-80 minutes, or until the beans are soft but still whole. When cooked, remove the garlic, sage and drain.
Set the cooked beans aside and proceed with the recipe as described above.
Pasta and Beans: the Neapolitan Recipe
There’s a version of pasta e fagioli for just about every region in Italy. From brothy ones packed with vegetables to creamy ones made only with beans and pasta. But one variant is worth mentioning: the Neapolitan pasta and beans soup.
Pasta e fagioli is the Italian name for “pasta and beans” (en= beans/it=fagioli pronunciation [fah-jaw-lee]). It is often called “pasta fasul” or “pasta fazool” in the United States, derived from the Neapolitan dialect name, “Past e Fasul”. It’s a warm and rich dish that has its roots in the Italian cucina povera; widespread especially in southern Italy and in particular in Naples.
Here the Neapolitan recipe
Sautè 2 peeled cloves of garlic in 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Then add 4 fresh red San Marzano tomatoes, cut into 4 parts and a little chopped parsley. When cooked, remove the skin from the tomatoes and smash them a little with a fork.
Add the boiled beans and cook over medium heat for about 1 minute.
Add one glass of water and a pinch of salt, then cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes.
Finally add 1 glass of water, bring to a boil and then add the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente following the cooking times on the package.
When ready, stir, season with salt if necessary and serve pasta and beans with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil on top.
4 thoughts on “Pasta and Beans | Pasta e Fagioli”
My ex-boyfriend’s Nonna used to make this and I absolutely loved it! Never found a recipe like she used to make until now. Cannot wait to try it!!!
Do do you usually put any kind of meat, such as Italian sausage or chicken in this recipe?
Hi Jennifer, thank you for your comment.
No, not in this recipe. This is the classic Italian pasta and beans recipe, completely vegetarian. There are other versions in Italy, one of these wants lard in the soffritto, another version wants pork rind, which is sometimes replaced by pork sausage, but it is a regional variant. Chicken in the pasta and bean soup … no, I would say no. It’s maybe more like a pasta sauce, at least here in Italy, made with beans, tomatoes and chicken breast.
As a little girl, my mama would make this for me, and she would slice up hot dogs or pork chop, sometimes diced ham, or bacon. I think she did this to get me to eat meat, as I was extremely picky eater. To this day, I like it with diced ham or cooked Italian sausage.