Pasta e Fagioli

I am presently in Michigan at my daughter’s house, and despite it being April, we have had freezing temperatures and enough snow to cover the ground every day over the past two weeks. Cooler weather requires hearty, comforting dishes, and there isn’t another dish that fits into this category better than Pasta e Fagiole so I decided to make this traditional dish for my family this week.

This dish is a peasant recipe that is a great, stick to your ribs dish. Pasta e fagioli or pasta fagioli, and simply means “pasta and beans”, referring to the two main ingredients in the dish. This traditional Italian favorite started as a peasant dish due to being composed of very inexpensive ingredients and most often is one dish that would be prepared at home for family, and not guests. Today Pasta e Fagioli can be widely found even in restaurants, although it may be pronounced pasta fazool in the United States.

Pasta fagioli is commonly made using cannellini beans or borlotti beans and some type of small pasta such as elbow macaroni or ditalini. The base is generally olive oil, garlic, minced onion, and spices, along with stewed tomato or tomato paste, and some broth or water, although some variations do not include tomatoes at all, and are made from only broth.

Modern restaurant recipes may be vegetarian, or include an Italian meat such as prosciutto or pancetta as I have used in my version. If you want a vegetarian version of this dish, simply skip adding the pancetta, and use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. I add onions and celery to my recipe, although I keep them chopped small so that the beans and pasta remain the stars of this dish.

This recipe also varies greatly based on the region or town in which it is prepared, as well as depending on available ingredients. The consistency of the dish can vary, as some renditions fall clearly in the soup category, usually because the tomato was left out, while others are much thicker and would be considered more of a pasta dish.

There is always a debate whether this dish should be included in the soup or pasta category, so I am including it in both. When making this “stick to your ribs” dish, you have the option to take a third of the dish and puree it, and then return it to the pot with the rest of the mixture which creates an even thicker dish.

I took a vote and my family didn’t want me to include this step so I just left the mixture as is, and it was plenty thick enough after cooking the pasta right in the pot with the beans. Serve this dish with lots of crusty Italian bread and a nice big mixed salad for a complete meal.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Pasta e Fagiole

Pasta e Fagiole

Yield: Serves 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

A traditional Italian dish made of pasta and beans that was born out of peasant cooking.


  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • 1 Large Carrot, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Celery Stalks, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Small Onion, Finely Chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Pancetta or Bacon (Optional)
  • 1 (28 Ounce) Can Chopped Tomatoes - I Use Mutti Brand
  • 1 Quart Chicken Broth
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 (14 Ounce) Tins Cannellini Beans (or Equivalent, Prepared From Dried)
  • 2 Cups Small Pasta (Tubettini or Ditalini)
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Dash Of Red Pepper Flakes

To Serve:

  • Good Quality Olive Oil
  • Shaved Parmesan or Pecorino Romano Cheese
  • Fresh Chopped Parsley


  1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot, then cook the onion, carrot, pancetta, and celery until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  3. Pour in the broth, beans and chopped tomatoes, water, and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove a few scoops of the bean mixture and puree or mash, then return to the pot. (Optional)
  5. Add the pasta, chopped parsley and seasonings.
  6. Cook until the pasta is cooked al dente.
  7. Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil, the shaved cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 367Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 1157mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 16g

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. I haven’t made this recipe, but it sounds pretty close to what Dad makes — and Dad’s is pretty unbeatable! Dad uses Italian sausage instead of pancetta. The pot empties pretty quick. I’ll be making this recipe very soon — with the sausage substitution. I am my father’s son!

    1. My ex was pretty much second generation Italian, from Conneticut, and he made a MEAN pasta fazool! (Or as he would pronounce it, “Pasta Vazool”) His always made his with Italian sausage too, plus high quality pepperoni (not too much!) YumYum, the good ol’ days…I might make this dish soon, before Spring sets in…

  2. Ciao Deborah,

    This is my first comment on your site – and long overdue it is! My father, whose own dad emigrated from Montesilvano in Abruzzo in the early twentieth century just loved “Pasta fazool”. It was a dish that was not entrusted to my mother to prepare. Oh no. Dad made it, and enjoyed every second he spent at the stove. And interestingly enough even within his family there were variations on the theme; my dad preferred it without tomato, but his brother Dean added tomato. Go figure! I wrote about this dish and others in an article called Dad’s Favorite Dishes, and as I was preparing my notes, what really struck me is, as you noted, this dish, formerly the province of home cooks and a staple of la cucina povera, is now served in the very toniest of restaurants – sometimes at $24.00 per bowl. My dad would just be amazed. Reading your recipe this morning made me think of my dad, Bill Crocetti, and that made me smile. Grazie, Deborah, for a terrific post and for some terrific memories. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    1. My mom and dad were Abruzzi – pescara and chieti.  This was s friday dish. No meat when i went back to visit my cousin they had migrates to Rome and they used home made pasta cut in little squares and it was fabulous. My mom always used ditalini and red kidney beans

    2. I make this all the time. I don’t use the 2 cups of water, and I add a small can of tomato paste. Also, I make the pasta + beans separately.


  3. “Pasta fazoi” as the Piemontese side of my family calls the soup/pasta. As for me the dish isn’t authentic unless long home made eggless noodles are used, not being one to whip up a batch of such noodles at a moment’s notice I use Chinese flour and water noodles which are a perfect substitute… Once the soup has finished cooking then a goodly amount of strong garlicky pesto is introduced, ah, then tutto e’ a posto. During winter olive oil is drizzled over the “minestra”, during summer good strong red wine vinegar is used which is delicious.

  4. Well…..its Super Bowl time again and it really is time to refresh and shed those old and tired American Super Bowl favourite foods like Chili…Chicken wings…Sausage..etc…. This year we’re turning it Canadian Italian…Im preparing a meal for 20 or so….and its Pasta e Fagioli…Italian Crusty bread…Anit-Pasto Misto…Italian deli meats….Pasta Aglio e Olio…etc….oh….yes….and lots of Vino……. and if the Super Bowl gets boring…we’ll turn on the Italian Soccer Game…. !!!!!! To All Our American Friends… Buon Appettito………….

    1. Way to goooooo Maurizio!!!!!. Now that sounds like a fantastic plan…I want to be invited… lol….Enjoy!!!!!!

      1. Great recipe, but I never cooked the pasta in the broth. Absorbs too much liquid.  I cook it in salted water and then drain and place in the broth to finish.  My family never used meat, purpose of the beans was for their protein and texture like meat.  I use about 2 tablespoons of paste, just enough for a bit of flavor and to turn it red.  And I top it with a generous handful of pecorino Romano cheese.

  5. First, totally LOVE the new website! The photography is beautiful! Makes me want to try EVERYTHING! Secondly, making this wonderful soup today as we have had our first snow fall of the winter! And lastly, could not agree with Maurizio more! Always whip up a huge pot of “Sunday Sauce” with everything but the kithcen sink on Super Bowl Sunday! My husband loves me extra special that day!

  6. This recipe is PERFECT! Since we ate this on Friday and especially Good Friday, it was always meatless. If you really want a thick broth, cover the pot, remove it from the stove and let it rest for about an hour or two (if you can wait that long!!) The starches release some more. When you’re ready to serve, heat it up. This was my dad’s favorite, too, and he liked his with thinly sliced onion, Parm cheese, more red pepper flakes (yikes!!) and crusty bread. If you want to have some fun, put in both cannellini and red kidney beans. So pretty! Happy New Year Everyone!!

  7. Ciao Bella, In cottura you are la Famiglin, sorella…Cottura in cucina!
    somewhat translated…
    beautiful lady, you are my family,sister whilst cooking in the kitchen.
    Your recipes are our family’s table, in Italy and america!

  8. I haven’t made pasta fagioli since I retired from the Fire Department 12 years ago,. So to double check the recipe and make sure my memory served me right I went online. Oh my goodness you should see the stuff they are trying to pass off as pasta fagioli!!!! Recipes using ground beef, some using kidney beans, even one using spirals for pasta.

    When I opened your page and seen the first picture I said, “THATS PASTA FAGIOLI!” and when I read the recipe all the ingredients came back to me…The ditalini, the bacon, the tomatoes, the cannellini beans.

    Thanks for posting the RIGHT and BEST pasta fagioli recipe, I’m gonna go write it down so I don’t forget it 12 years from now!


    1. George, this dish deserves to be made more often than every 12 years, a sure way to learn it by heart and never forget it… lol… Bon Appetit!!!!

  9. Ciao! I made the pasta fagioli tonight. I used Great Northern Beans instead of Cannolini and I used diced tomatoes because these are what I had in the cupboard. It came out great. I never got my Mom’s recipe before she died. Your recipe is pretty close! It was very good!!! Thanks for posting yours! Love your site!

  10. My first attempt at this dish and “oh my” what a success it was! Being Irish I was worried I could pull off such an authentic Italian dish successfully– and succeed I did thanks to this perfect recipe. I’ve just pinned this to my “PIN ” board and will be making this at least 2-3 more times this winter. Thanks for such a great, easy recipe!

  11. I have been meaning to comment on so many of your dishes- because I am obsessed with your blog! My mother is from Sicily and I grew up on authentic Italian cooking – and I love to cook myself as well- typically when I cook I pick a dish I want to make and then go to a few different websites to make my own- but your dishes I very rarely make any changes! They are just perfect and creative!

    That being said I made this Pasta Fagioli today and it was incredible! My Fiancee said it was the best he has ever had in his life and he loves Pasta Fagioli soup so THANK YOU for this wonderful recipe- and all the other ones I have tried! Keep them coming!

  12. My mother in law and Her mother in law who taught her used a ham bone as a componant of the broth. So amazing the smokiness of the ham and the beans and the tomato. Amazing!

  13. This is the first recipe for Paste e Fagiloe that was exactly how I remember it. No ground beef! The only problem I seem to have when I make any pasta with soup, it that the soup absorbs all my liquid and it gets really thick. Any tips?

  14. Just finished my first bowl….delicious!!! Although some of the beans were not fully cooked. I used canned so not sure why. I definitely cooked it for at least 15 min on med-low heat before adding the pasta. Omitted the pancetta but otherwise very good and this will be my new Pasta e Fagioli!! I’m just worried now that the pasta will take over the soup. Have a lot left and there’s only 3 of us. Thanks!

  15. This is a great recipe. I make it all the time omitting the pancetta. I do tend to use more broth or stock to keep it a more soup-like consistency. Definitely need to add more broth when reheating the next day. Don’t skip the drizzle of olive oil and grated cheese before serving. It makes the dish.

  16. I just made pasta and beans tonight – a great dish for a Friday in Lent. The version my parents and relatives used is the simplest of all – take your good sauce, thin it a little bit if necessar, cook the pasta (usually elbows or penne) add drained and rinsed kidney beans (or cannellini beans or both) and sprinkle with pepper, salt and parmesan cheese.

    This is one of my favorite dishes, and before you dismiss me as a total culinary rube, let me defend myself and say I pursue all sorts of cuisines, read about them in depth, enjoy fine restaurants, make my own breads, grow my own herbs, and one of my favorite pastime is cooking. Still one of my favorite meals of all is my family’s simple version of “pasta fazool.” I would come home from college, and my mother would call me the day before: What can I make? Oh, Mom, make me pasta fazool!

    Pasta fazool? That’s all you want???? Yes!

    I guess it’s like Southerners and their grits, which they swoon over, and the rest of us simply don’t get. Make mine “pasta fazool” – it’s the most comforting comfort food I know.

  17. This recipe is the closest to my Mother’s I have ever come across. My Mom always used the ham bone from Easter and some of the meat as well and this addition to your recipe made it almost identical to the memory in my mind. Thanks you.

  18. We always made this post-Xmas & post-Easter as a way to use up the Hambone. I now have a butcher that actually sells hambones year round; however I usually stock up after Easter (everyone wants boneless, so he has excess stock) & keep some in the freezer. We always use 3 different beans (I’ve been using Butter beans, navy & pinto lately) & small pasta (Ditilini). We have a winter soup club at work in the winter & “Beans” is always a hit!

  19. Great recipe. I was familiar with a variation that used tomato sauce instead of chopped tomatoes, so that’s the only change I made. I have to say it is wonderful and something I will make again and again. Thanks.

  20. I’ve been making this soup for several months now with my husband.,  it’s the best ever, deliciouso thank you for posting.  We always make sure to ring our friends on the phone to tell them to meet us at their door, we have pasta Fagioli soup once again.????

  21. I love this recipe I’ve been making it  for several months now.this soup is always a hit I put 2 packages of panchetta  I omit the red sauce because my husband is not crazy for tomatoes, I also add an extra can of broth. I also make sure to give to my neighbor downstairs from us, she loves the soup, she asked for the recipe., we gave to her of course.
    Also t make biscuits and put in the bottom of my soup bowl and the start pouring the soup right on, delicious. Right now as I’m typing this comment on the stove is my pasta fagiol, almost done. Thank you for this recipe keep on posting recipes. 

  22. This peasant dish is worthy of Royalty. You don’t need to wait for winter, enjoy all year round. This was a staple dish in our family, a dish that we’d add zucchini, peppers, even eggplant. There’s  no limit to this great, hearty meal. Just one thing though, top it with Pecorino Romano instead of Parmesan cheese, much more creamy. 

  23. Not sure where my mom got her recipe for pasta fagioli but it is the best.
    She always started with a typical italian pasta sauce ( marinara if you call it that)
    The onion, celery, italian spices, no meat in ours.
    Using tomato paste was her way. Only dark kidney beans in ours, along with pasta. Cook pasta sauce several hours to blend flavors well, add kidney beans that have been in blender to cream them. Add to pasta sauce and cook down adding pasta when it has gotten thicker. Italian bread with galic butter.
    Just the best I have ever had. Tried olive garden, not very good to me. I can send amounts if anyone wants.

  24. I made this yesterday. It is delicious. Too much for just my husband and me, but I packed up a container and took some to my son. He loved it too.

  25. Nick Fortunato, father of the Bears great Joe Fortunato, used to make how he said “fasta fazool”. Nick was a retired barber in Mingo were I grew up and he was always happy to share his soup if we would run down the street and play a number for him. Twenty five cents straight up and run it down for a dime he would say. He lived above a now closed barber shop in an apartment and the stairs were a bit much for him. Fasta Fazool and old Nick, always smiling and joking with us.

  26. Pasta Fagioli was one of my favorites growing up…no meat in my grandmothers version and no carrots. Celery was either put in with the piece being cut into 2 or 3 large pieces then removed before eating or diced really small so you barely saw traces of it. She varied using just cannellini beans or mixed with dark red kidney beans. Always ditilini noodles and some kind of tomatoes (paste or crushed) and Italian spices. Always served with fresh grated cheese and crusty Italian bread and plenty of crushed red pepper. Olive Garden version cannot compare to traditional Italian pasta fagioli.

  27. Went out for dinner with friends last night to a new (old) Italian restaurant. New name, former owners.  Tried their Pasta e Fazool, 2 different types of white beans, large tube pasta, ham and chicken broth. Couldn’t finish cause our food was delivered, huge portion. Asked server for to go container, owner insisted we take fresh soup. Odd at the time. Heated up today and beans not cooked entirely. Wished we had kept our original soup which was delicious. Was curious about the different types, white broth vs red. Came across your recipe and decided I prefer the red soup/sauce. I will try your recipe because it looks sooo yummy. I like Olive Garden’s only because I’ve not had anything to compare it to until now!  I think I was Italian in a former life. ? Thank you 

  28. A perfect dish for a snowy day. Even though it started as a peasant meal, it doesn’t taste cheap at all. Simple, warm and hearty, it serves to bring families together on Christmas: sitting beside the family fireplace, sipping on some warm milk and enjoying pasta e fagioli with your spouse and children. No other felling will come close!

  29. I also made a nice pot of Pasta fajioli soup and it turned out delicious!! My husband was delighted!!

  30. Marvellous recipe. Fresh tomatoes definitely elevate this dish. I like to add a couple of teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary and if you have a parmesan rind – add it with the broth – it adds extra flavour. With some crusty bread, this is the ultimate in comfort food. 

  31. Fantastic recipe!   I’ve made with the noodles in the soup as directed.  And when I’m in a hurry I use less water/broth and cook the noodles separate as I’m making the soup.  Either way it’s always delicious.  I do add salt all along the way.  And I usually use red or light red kidney beans just because that’s the way I remember it being made growing up.  No matter what, it’s an awesome recipe!   I’ve made it numerous times since you posted and felt like I needed to say- Thank you for posting!! 

  32. Hi! This looks delicious! I do have a question, can 8 substitute vegetable broth instead of chicken stock? I am a vegetarian.

    Also, do you know if the meat can be taken out of most Italian recipes, or is it on an individual basis for each recipe? Besides making the recipes and finding out, is there a way to know? We are considering moving to Italy. I don’t want them to think i am nuts or being disrespectful!

    Thank you so very much! I look forward to your reply!

    Traci Starkweather

    1. No problem using vegetable broth in place of chicken broth in any recipe. I have many mesatless recipes on the blog as well. Every Italian menu has both vegetarian and vegan options, especially pasta dishes.

  33. I’m back! I just saw that you lived in Umbria! We are very interested in living in that area! I would love to know of any Umbria(n?) recipes specific to the region. Thank you so much! I’m excited!

    Traci Starkweather

  34. This recipe and options touch all the bases. My basics are EVO, finely chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and beef bouillon — all prepared and simmered briefly with one quart of water in one pot– then added to two cups of ditalini or tubettini brought to a boil and cooked al dente in three quarts of water in second pot.. Yields four quarts. Note there is no salt added but I stir in a half-teaspon of anchovy paste in final boiling stage for added flavor. Delicioso!

  35. Love this always as yes made it an put pepperoni in also. Believe she used garbanzo beans…going to attempt to make it for grandkids this weekend

  36. I made this recipe tonight and it was excellent.  Way too much for two of us but I’ll figure it out!   I definitely will be making this again and again and again………

  37. Glad to find your site, again!

    I’ve been craving pasta fagiole and decided to go through old recipes I’ve saved (printouts) in a folder I keep in one of my kitchen drawers.

    What I found: your recipe which I printed from your website on September 14, 2002 (the date displays at the bottom of the printed page, along with URL for your website).

    But I could only find page 1 of the recipe, which listed the ingredients. Somehow I lost page 2, and had no directions on what to do with the ingredients.

    I went online, found your website, and did a search for the recipe. And now I have the directions.

    Twenty-two years later.

    I can’t remember if I made it 20 years ago, but I’m looking forward to making your recipe this week!

    From one Deborah to another, thank you!

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