italian pasta + cannellini bean soup {pasta e fagioli}

by Amy on 17 January 2012

if you read my post on italian wedding soup, you already know how much i love soup. i’ll spare you too much repetition, but in short, i really really adore soup. so, when week two of my one-new-dinner-a-week challenge for 2012 rolled around + it was a gray, rainy day, i knew that the dinner should be soup. but what kind? after some internet browsing, i settled on pasta e fagioli, a traditional italian pasta + bean soup with a tomato broth base. it’s a soup i love, yet i had never made it myself before, so i figured it was time to give it a try. after reading the recipe, i upped the herbs + spices a bit, hoping for a soup that had a great depth + flavor + fantastically, that’s exactly what i got.

let me tell you, this soup is delicious! this type of unexpectedly fabulous meal makes me so thrilled that i gave myself the one-new-dinner-a-week challenge this year, as i don’t know if i would’ve tried this recipe otherwise – i probably would’ve continued buying tasty pasta e fagioli soup from the local cafe, not thinking to make it myself. this soup is wonderfully savory, with a great variety in flavors + textures from the ingredients. its flavor is complex without being fussy, + the soup itself is simple without being boring. it’s a big bowl of wonderful, especially delightful when served with fresh homemade bread. when my husband, not a huge soup fan, ate an entire bowl of it for dinner, i knew we had a big winner.

a quick note: this soup is not vegetarian, as it has bacon + chicken stock as ingredients. however, fear not, my vegetarian friends — it can easily be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon, adding a little salt + liquid smoke to mimic the bacon, substituting olive oil or butter for the bacon fat + vegetable stock for the chicken stock. thanks to vegetarian pal lesley for the substitution ideas!

italian pasta + cannellini bean soup (pasta e fagioli)

makes about 6-8 servings, adapted from martha stewart


2 strips (2 ounces) bacon, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
kosher salt + fresh ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans drained + rinsed
8 cups reduced-sodium canned chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup tubetti, ditalini, or other short, tubular pasta (i used ditalini)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)


in a dutch oven or stockpot, cook bacon over medium heat until browned + crisp, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

add onion, carrots + celery; cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. add garlic + rosemary; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. season with salt + pepper to taste.

stir in tomato paste, beans, red pepper flakes, + broth. bring to a boil, reduce heat, + simmer, partially covered, until soup has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. lightly mash some of the beans in the pot to give the soup body. add pasta to the pot; cook until al dente, about 8 minutes (may vary according to your pasta). season to taste, if needed, with additional salt + pepper.

to serve, ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with parmesan + parsley, if desired.

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ashley @ Kitchen Meets Girl January 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

I’m loving it that you are trying a new recipe each week (especially since I get to see the yummy end-results!). I’m wishing I had a bowl of this today–it’s 20 degrees (!) where I am, so I could certainly use some of this warm, comforting soup.

2 amy January 17, 2012 at 8:54 am

whoa, it is seriously chilly where you are! that is some serious soup weather for sure. if you lived closer, i’d make a big pot to share with y’all. =)

3 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. January 17, 2012 at 9:33 am

look fantastic! Perfect time of year for this! Hope you’re well!!

4 amy January 17, 2012 at 9:39 am

thanks, alison- i’m doing great! + i agree – this gray, rainy weather we’ve been having, mixed in with some seriously chilly days, is just perfect for soup.

5 Steph@TheChickpeaChickadee January 17, 2012 at 9:43 am

Looks fabulous. What a pretty presentation. I’m adding this one to the list of recipes I want to try. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

6 amy January 17, 2012 at 10:15 am

you’re so welcome, steph! i did think that the colors of the soup were just gorgeous, especially against the light blue/green color of the plate + the saffron napkin. gotta love pretty food! =)

7 Lesley January 17, 2012 at 10:20 am

I tell ya, Liquid Smoke is magic. The smoke flavor is the most important part of bacon, as far as I’m concerned. I use it to flavor beans as well as soups.

8 amy January 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

believe it or not, i’ve actually never used it – i wish i had known about it when i was vegetarian, as it would’ve probably helped with a lot of recipes. it’s on my to-buy list now — it’ll be great if i’m cooking for vegetarians, or just want to have a meat-free meal myself. thanks for helping with the veg substitutions!

9 Suzi January 17, 2012 at 10:47 am

I love pasta e fagioli and yours looks great. I am a vegetarian so I will try adding the liquid smoke thanks for that tip.

10 amy January 17, 2012 at 11:04 am

you’re very welcome + i’m so glad that the vegetarian substitutions were helpful for you. can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

11 Ally Garner January 17, 2012 at 11:51 am

Ooh, this looks really delicious. My Italian hubby will love this! And I think my Italian Mother-in-law will be mighty impressed haha. Also, I’m a big fan of liquid smoke. I use it in several dishes, including my baked beans with bacon. I may have to add a dash for added flavor. Great idea for substitutions as well, Amy!

12 amy January 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

i’m thinking that i’ve been missing out by not experimenting with liquid smoke – i’m hearing so many good things about it. i’m definitely buying ASAP + trying it out in a couple recipes. hope that you, your hubby + your mother-in-law love this soup!

13 Jessica @ Cajunlicious January 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Amy that is one good looking bowl of soup, wish I had some right now especially since I am hungry!

14 amy January 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm

aww, thanks jessica! i’m getting pretty hungry myself + am wishing i still had some leftovers. unfortunately, i ate them all already. guess it’s time to make some more. =)

15 Kelly January 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm

This sounds delicious. My hubby is also not a fan of soup. Poor guy, because I can’t get enough of it!

16 amy January 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

ha, it’s the same way here! i eat soup at least 3-4x a week, usually for lunches + snacks. when i really crave it for dinner, hubby usually gets pizza or takeout. that’s why it was so impressive that he actually ate this! =)

17 EA-The Spicy RD January 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Looks like a good one to me! I’m pinning this to make {with gluten-free pasta} soon! I love me some soup too :-)

18 amy January 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm

it is, it is! =) so glad that you can use gluten-free pasta to make it work for you. let me know how it turns out!

19 Joanna@Drizzleofsunshine January 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

This looks like the ultimate comfort food. It’s chilly right now and this looks like it will warm you up in a jiffy! Thanks for posting. How long do you think this will keep for?

20 amy January 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm

hi joanna, i did a quick search + it looks like this soup will keep for about a week, in an airtight container + refrigerated. it only lasted 3 days here before it was entirely gone, though! =) it is definitely a perfect comfort food, especially for a chilly day.

21 ErinsFoodFiles January 17, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I too LOVE soups! I’ve made a lot this season. They usually freeze well too. I’ve never made a Pasta e Fagioli before, perhaps I should! YUM!

22 amy January 17, 2012 at 2:06 pm

when i make soups, i almost always make a huge batch + then freeze some of it, too. i wasn’t sure how this one would freeze, with the pasta in it, as pasta usually gets mushy when it’s frozen + rethawed. do you think it would freeze well? luckily it was a non-issue because we ate it all before any freezing was necessary. =)

23 amanda January 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

i grew up eating this soup! though my dad’s side of the family is Italian, it is actually my German grandmother who makes the best i’ve ever had. she is the queen of soup, and i love soup about as much as you do! my all time favorite is a tomato/beef broth based mushroom barley soup. thanks for reminding me to make this again soon.

24 amy January 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

ooh, if you make the mushroom barley soup, pleeease put it on your blog. i love mushrooms, barley AND tomatoes, so i’m sure i would love it. woohoo for soup!

25 Renee January 17, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Yea! Another great recipe for something to cook in my new dutch oven. I am sure it is delicious. I’m glad my husband loves soup as much as I do. I agree this would be great on a cold and rainy winter day.

26 claire @ the realistic nutritionist January 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Oh Amy! This looks so good, so hearty and so comforting. Perfect winter soup!

27 amy January 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm

thanks so much, claire. i agree – it’s a perfect cold weather soup – so comforting + warming!

28 amy January 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm

woohoo, glad to hear that it’s another thing for you to make in your fabulous new dutch oven. sounds like you’re definitely going to get a ton of use out of it!

29 Wendy (The Weekend Gourmet) January 17, 2012 at 7:23 pm

What’s not to love about this soup? We eat soup about once a week in cooler months, and I love hearty ones that can be paired with bread for a complete meal! Well done…

30 amy January 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm

thanks so much, wendy! i love that you all eat soup once a week in the cooler months – i’d fit right in in your household! =)

31 LeAndra January 17, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I really love all of the homemade – making things at home that you would ordinarily buy – recipes you’ve been posting. I never would have thought to make pasta e fagioli at home, assuming it would be much too complicated, but this has definitely changed my mind!

32 amy January 17, 2012 at 8:02 pm

aww, thanks leandra! you’ll definitely have to give this soup a try – it’s definitely as delicious as the store-bought version, if not better!

33 Krissy {Krissy's Creations} January 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Pasta e Fagioli is my favorite soup! It’s my comfort food. I always crave it when I’m sick, tired, or cold. Your recipe looks delicious!

34 amy January 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

i’m the same way – i always crave soup when i’m under the weather or tired, too – it’s the perfect pick-me-up. =) thanks for your kind words!

35 tommy noodles January 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Looking good! You nailed the right noodle.

36 amy January 18, 2012 at 2:52 pm

that’s serious high praise coming from you, arguably the king of noodles – thank you so much!

37 kristen @ notsodomesticated January 18, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Yum!! Looks great! Of course, I think any recipe adapted from Martha would be great. You can’t go wrong! :)

38 amy January 18, 2012 at 3:46 pm

i agree – i have had tons of success with martha’s recipes. that’s become my first stop when i’m looking for a new recipe!

39 Julie at Burnt Carrots January 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I could eat soup every day. I even order hot soup on summer days! This recipe looks fantastic. I’ve actually never had pasta e fagioli, but it sounds (and looks!) like I’m missing out.

40 amy January 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm

i’m the same way! i try to make more chilled soups in the summer, but i can’t deny that hot soups are really what i prefer, even on the hottest of days. you’ll definitely have to give this a try – it’s wonderfully hearty + full of flavor.

41 Jen @ pretty plate January 19, 2012 at 6:17 am

I would love this soup today….freeeeezing over here in Boston.

: )

42 amy January 19, 2012 at 7:23 am

i love boston, but that’s exactly why i moved away — those winters are brutal! after 18 years of ’em, i was ready for a slightly warmer climate + that’s how i find myself in nashville today. =)

43 Ashley January 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I love this soup! I can’t wait to try your recipe :)

44 amy January 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm

i hope it turns out great for you + you like it — i’ve made it twice in the last 7 days, so it’s definitely a favorite around here lately!

45 Katia January 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

Hi Amy, I’ve just stopped by your blog and it looks fab!
You can’t go wrong with a lovely pasta e fagioli, that’s a kinda of staple in my country : )

46 amy January 23, 2012 at 5:30 pm

welcome, katia! i always love having new blog readers. =) i absolutely love england + now that i know pasta e fagioli is popular there, i love it even more!

47 Lou January 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm

This is on my to-make-list.

For tomorrow.


48 amy January 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm

that’s awesome, lou! i can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

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