Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans), was one of the first soups I ever learned to make. When I first got married, I really wanted to dive into our Italian heritage and learn some of the classic recipes that would serve as a source of comfort whenever we needed it. Pasta e fagioli is the quintessential rustic soup made with basic ingredients that are both satisfying and nourishing. Have it with some toasty homemade garlic bread and you are ready to take on winter!
What You Need To Make Pasta e Fagioli
There is a good chance you already have the ingredients you'll need to make this delicious soup. It differs slightly from minestrone soup in that it is thicker. And, unlike minestrone where the vegetables are the star, this dish is all about the pasta and beans.
- Cannellini Beans- Beans are a staple food in a plant-based kitchen, so it's always a good idea to have plenty (whether canned or dried) stocked up so you can whip up a quick and easy meal. Traditionally, dried beans are used. But, I almost never remember to soak and cook beans ahead of time, so I use canned. While I prefer cannellini, pinto and kidney beans are also commonly used.
- Aromatics/Fresh Herbs- Carrots, onions, celery and plenty of garlic are essential to create that perfectly balanced flavor in your soup. I play around with herbs such as bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, parsley, and thyme to flavor the soup even more.
- Tomatoes-Canned tomatoes can add a lot of unnecessary sodium to your soup. At first glance when looking at the label you may not think it's a lot. But check the serving size. Most canned tomatoes have very small serving sizes. I have always liked Pomi. The tomatoes come from Italy and I've always found the flavor to be pretty consistent. Strained or crushed tomatoes will both work for this soup.
- Vegetable Broth- I also use low sodium vegetable broth in all my soups. You can always add more salt or herbs if you need it at the end of cooking or into the vegetables as you sauté them to add more flavor. A good quality vegetable broth makes all the difference. Check out some of the best tasting veggie broths here.
- Small Tubular Shaped Pasta- The classic pasta used in pasta e fagioli is ditalini. But there are no hard rules here. Smaller shaped pastas will absorb less soup when cooking and pair nicely with the beans.
How to Make Pasta e Fagioli
Like most soups this recipe is not only comforting it's so simple to throw together.
- Start by sautéing the vegetables, aromatics and some of the dried herbs in a soup pot with olive oil. This is where you will build flavor.
- Add in the tomatoes, broth, water, half the beans, two bay leaves and parsley.
- Puree the remaining beans in a food processor with some of the soup liquid. Adding in this pureed bean mixture will help thicken the soup. Add the bean mixture into the soup pot and stir until it melts into the broth.
- Cook the soup for about 20 minutes then add in the pasta.
- While the soup is cooking make the garlic bread (optional).
Making Garlic Bread
It's so easy to make this fresh and delicious side kick. Garlic bread is the perfect match for this dish. The bread allows you to scoop up the beans and veggies into one outrageously flavorful bite.
- Start by picking up a fresh loaf of rustic bread from your local bakery or supermarket. Ciabatta or crusty sourdough is delicious for garlic bread!
- In a food processor, just blend together ½ cup softened unsalted butter with some fresh herbs, garlic cloves and a pinch of salt. I used parsley and basil (and unsalted vegan butter).
- Slather the herbed garlic butter onto the bread and place it on a baking sheet.
- Bake it in a 450 degree oven until the butter melts, the garlic becomes fragrant and the bread is slightly browned and crisp. This will take about 5-7 minutes.
- Set aside to cool slightly, then cut into thick slices.
Sitting down to a bowl of this hearty soup after a long hard day is good for both the body and soul. Enjoy leftovers the next day for lunch or pair with a salad or sandwich to change it up a bit. Warm, cozy and delicious! What's better than that?
Pasta e Fagioli
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 carrots chopped
- 1 celery stalk chopped
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 onion chopped
- handful fresh parsley chopped
- 26 oz crushed tomatoes
- 30 oz canned cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 ½ cups ditalini pasta or other small shaped pasta
- In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat.
- Add the onion,carrots, celery and a pinch of salt and sauté for about 3-4 minutes until slightly softened and onion becomes translucent.
- Add in the garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper and sauté until fragrant about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, water, broth, parsley and bay leaves and bring to a soft boil.
- While soup is coming to boil, blend HALF of the beans in a food processor with about a half cup of the soup broth.
- Carefully, transfer the pureed bean mixture into the soup and stir until completely combined. This may take a minute or two.
- Add the remaining whole beans and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook for about 15 minutes then add in the pasta.
- Cook pasta in the soup until pasta is al dente.
- Carefully remove pot from heat and remove the bay leaves.
- Ajust seasonings and serve with garlic bread or favorite rustic style bread (if desired).