Pasta fazool (also known as Pasta e Fagioli) is a riff on an Italian soup recipe that contains beans and pasta. This version has a tomato-based broth, white beans, spinach, and Parmesan cheese. Add ground sausage to make it heartier, if you like. This soup comes together in less than an hour, but can also be slow simmered on the stove all day for that special all-day flavor.
This hearty soup that began as cheap and easy 'peasant food' in Italy has transcended all the way to today, and is showing no sign of slowing down. After one spoonful of this comforting cozy meal, you'll know why people have been making this soup for ages. There's something so delicious about a tangy tomato broth with soft bites of pasta, creamy beans, and delicious vegetables. The Parmesan cheese on top just brings it all together into a magical bowl that you'll crave all year long.
Pasta fazool is also known as pasta e fagioli, which translates to pasta and beans. The type of beans used are usually white cannellini beans, which are also known as white kidney beans, because they are large and kidney-bean shaped. However, it can also contain red kidney beans or even lentils. The pasta is always a small short-cut type of pasta, with ditalini being the most common. Ditalini is hard to find in smaller grocery stores, so you can use any kind of small pasta you like. I've seen a lot of pasta fazool recipes start with ground sausage or ground beef, which can be delicious, but the recipe below is simple and lacks either. Feel free to use it by adding it to the pot in the very beginning , and then reduce the olive oil slightly to make up for the oil the meat will add to the pot.
- olive oil
- red onion: You may use white or yellow onion, if you prefer.
- tomato paste: Try to find double-strength tomato paste; usually the brand Cento or any Italian brand is double-strength.
- Italian seasoning: Italian seasonings vary by the spice company, but I really prefer one that has fennel in it. Especially if you don't use sausage in this soup, spicy fennel mimics the flavor of sausage.
- red pepper flakes: Completely optional, but add a pinch if you like some extra spice.
- canned crushed tomatoes
- chicken broth: You may use vegetable broth and keep this vegetarian, if you prefer.
- cannellini beans: Any canned white beans will work; drain and rinse before adding them to the pot.
- ditalini pasta: Any small short-cut pasta will work; ditalini is traditional, but orzo is a great substitute.
- frozen spinach
- Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
How to make pasta fagioli:
- Gather all of the ingredients:
- In a large soup pot, add the olive oil and turn the heat to medium. Add the diced red onion and carrots when the oil is hot, and give it a good stir to coat everything in the oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions start to soften. Lower the heat if the onions threaten to burn.
- Next, add the garlic and tomato paste, and stir together very well and allow to cook for 30 seconds. This process of searing the tomato paste before adding all other ingredients brings so much depth of flavor to this soup!
- Now it's time to add the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes (if using), crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper and cannellini beans. Stir everything together very well, and then bring to a simmer.
- Once the mixture is simmering, it's time to add the pasta! Stir very well after adding so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Ensure the mixture comes back to a simmer quickly so that the pasta starts cooking.
- Once the pasta is al delta (soft but still has a slight bite in the center), add the frozen spinach (no need to defrost), and Parmesan cheese.
- Heat until the spinach defrosts and melts into the soup. Taste the soup to see if it needs more salt and pepper before serving. Also, serve with extra Parmesan cheese at the table.
This soup is great the same day it is cooked, but makes great leftovers, too. I love to serve it with crostini, or any kind of thinly sliced toasted bread drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese while warm. Little Parmesan cheese toasts are great for dunking in the soup.
Can I use fresh spinach in this soup?
Yes, if you're looking for a way to use up spinach, you can use fresh spinach in this soup. I recommend fresh baby spinach, and keeping the amount to about 5 ounces. It can be an entire clamshell of baby spinach from the bagged lettuce section. I typically use frozen spinach, because it's easier to keep on hand, and then I don't worry about it wilting in my fridge.
Why is it called pasta fazool:
The name pasta fazool comes from the word 'fagioli' pronounced 'fasule' or 'fasul' in other regions of Italy.
How to store leftovers:
One of the issues with soups that contain pasta is that the pasta soaks up most of the soup broth as it sits overnight. Leftovers end up containing a lot less liquid than it did when you served it. To solve this, you can add more chicken broth when rewarming. Or, if you know you're going to make this soup ahead of time, you can cook the pasta separately from the soup. Just before serving, stir in some pasta to each bowl.
You can also make and freeze the soup in single-serving containers for up to 3 months ahead of time. The soup will keep refrigerated for up to 3 days to reheat for easy lunches throughout the week.
Other bean soup recipes you might love:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10-12 grinds of black pepper
- 2 14-oz cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup ditallini pasta (or other small pasta or quick-cooking barley)
- 10 ounce bag frozen spinach
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- In a large soup pot, add the olive oil. Turn the heat to medium.
- When the oil is warm, add the diced red onion and carrot to the pot. Cook while stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, until the onions soften. Turn the heat down if the onions start to brown around the edges.
- Stir in the minced garlic and tomato paste, and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes (if using) crushed tomatoes, broth, salt, pepper, and cannellini beans. Bring this mixture to a simmer while stirring often, and then stir in the pasta.
- Cook the pasta until al dente, and then stir in the spinach and Parmesan cheese.
- Serve each bowl with more Parmesan cheese.
red onion: You may use white or yellow onion, if you prefer.
tomato paste: Try to find double-strength tomato paste; usually the brand Cento or any Italian brand is double-strength.
Italian seasoning: Italian seasonings vary by the spice company, but I really prefer one that has fennel in it. Especially if you don't use sausage in this soup, spicy fennel mimics the flavor of sausage.
red pepper flakes: Completely optional, but add a pinch if you like some extra spice.
chicken broth: You may use vegetable broth and keep this vegetarian, if you prefer.
cannellini beans: Any canned white beans will work; drain and rinse before adding them to the pot.
ditalini pasta: Any small short-cut pasta will work; ditalini is traditional, but orzo is a great substitute.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 411Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 1433mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 15gSugar: 9gProtein: 23g