White Bean Pasta e Fagioli

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The timeless Classic White Bean Pasta e Fagioli, pronounced “pah-sta eh fazh-e-ohl-eh,” presents a humble blend of pasta and beans. This traditional Italian soup boasts countless variations, yet its simplicity and cost-effectiveness belie the depth of flavor it offers.

Like numerous other Italian recipes, Pasta e Fagioli originated as a peasant dish, crafted from affordable ingredients. It stands as a comforting meal adaptable to whatever ingredients are available. Our essential additions include sweet sausage with fennel and extra fennel seeds (we’re huge fans of fennel), contributing to an irresistibly flavorful outcome!

Two bowls of Pasta e Fagioli with crackers.

The origins of White Bean Pasta e Fagioli, can be traced back to the rich culinary history of Italy, particularly to the regions of Tuscany and Campania.

This humble yet hearty dish originated as a peasant meal, born out of necessity and resourcefulness. It was traditionally made with simple, inexpensive ingredients that were readily available to farmers and laborers. The main components of Pasta e Fagioli are pasta and beans, typically white beans such as cannellini or borlotti beans.

The dish’s popularity grew due to its affordability, versatility, and nourishing qualities. It provided sustenance and comfort to Italian families, especially during times of economic hardship.

Over the years, Pasta e Fagioli has evolved into a beloved Italian comfort food, cherished for its rustic charm and comforting flavors. While the basic recipe remains the same—combining pasta and beans in a savory broth—there are countless variations across different regions of Italy and even among individual families.

Some variations may include additional ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, celery, herbs, and spices, each adding their own unique flavor profile to the dish.

Today, White Bean Pasta e Fagioli continues to be a beloved staple in Italian cuisine, enjoyed in homes and restaurants throughout Italy and around the world. Its rich history and enduring popularity are a testament to its status as a timeless Italian classic.

However, it’s essential to begin with a stellar soffritto (Italian Mirepoix). Don’t fret; it won’t take much time, and you’ll soon possess a new flavor powerhouse to enhance your culinary repertoire.

Bowl of Pasta e Fagioli with fresh basil.

Crafting the Perfect Italian Soffritto

  1. Ingredients: Gather the classic trio of aromatics: onions, carrots, and celery. You’ll typically need equal parts of each, finely chopped.

  2. Preparation: Wash and peel the vegetables. Finely dice the onions, carrots, and celery to ensure even cooking and a uniform texture.

  3. Cooking Medium: Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Olive oil is traditional for Italian soffritto, but you can use other cooking fats like butter or a combination of butter and oil for added richness.

  4. Sauté Aromatics: Add the diced onions, carrots, and celery to the heated oil. Season with a pinch of salt to help draw out moisture and enhance flavor. Sauté the vegetables gently until they become soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. This process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the quantity of vegetables and the desired level of caramelization.

  5. Optional Additions: While the classic soffritto consists of onions, carrots, and celery, you can customize it to suit your taste preferences. Consider adding garlic, parsley, or other herbs and spices for additional depth of flavor.

With this information, you’ll be well-equipped to create a stellar Italian soffritto that will elevate your culinary creations to new heights of flavor and authenticity.

Soffritto cooking for Pasta e Fagioli.

Rich History of Italian Soffritto:

Italian soffritto, deeply rooted in culinary tradition, traces its origins back to ancient times. The term “soffritto” is derived from the Italian verb “soffriggere,” meaning to sauté or fry. Historically, soffritto served as a foundational element in Italian cooking, evolving over centuries to become a cornerstone of Italian cuisine.

The origins of soffritto can be traced to the Mediterranean region, where it was first developed as a simple mixture of aromatic vegetables sautéed in olive oil. In ancient Rome, cooks used soffritto as a base for many dishes, adding depth and complexity to their culinary creations.

Throughout the centuries, soffritto continued to evolve, adapting to the ingredients and culinary practices of different regions in Italy. In northern Italy, soffritto often includes onions, carrots, and celery, while in southern Italy, garlic, tomatoes, and herbs may be prominent ingredients.

Soffritto gained widespread popularity during the Renaissance period, as Italian cuisine flourished and regional culinary traditions merged. Italian chefs and home cooks alike embraced soffritto as a versatile flavor enhancer, using it in soups, stews, sauces, and braises.

Today, Italian soffritto remains an essential component of many Italian dishes, prized for its ability to impart depth of flavor and aroma. While the ingredients and preparation methods may vary from region to region and from cook to cook, the essence of soffritto—a fragrant blend of aromatic vegetables sautéed to perfection—remains unchanged, a testament to its enduring legacy in Italian culinary heritage.

Two bowls of Pasta e Fagioli with crackers.

Exploring Versatile Uses for Soffritto

Note: Usually, making soffritto involves a slow-cooking process that begins with sautéing onions until they turn translucent and fragrant. After that, you add the carrots and celery, cooking everything down slowly for about 30 to 60 minutes.

If you have the time and wish to prepare your soffritto in the traditional way, like my Nonna used to do, then follow this method! However, if your family is hungry and you’re eager to sit down to eat, simply toss all the veggies in at once and start sweating them down. You’ll still achieve fantastic flavor, I assure you.

  • Flavorful Base for Soups: Add soffritto to soups and stews for a rich and aromatic base.
  • Enhance Sauces: Incorporate soffritto into tomato sauces, meat sauces, and ragù for added depth of flavor.
  • Flavor Boost for Risotto: Stir soffritto into risotto during the cooking process to infuse the dish with savory notes.
  • Elevate Vegetable Dishes: Use soffritto as a flavor enhancer in vegetable side dishes or gratins.
  • Add to Meatballs or Meatloaf: Mix soffritto into ground meat mixtures for extra flavor and moisture.
  • Flavorful Stuffing: Incorporate soffritto into stuffing recipes for poultry or vegetables.
  • Tasty Base for Braised Meats: Use soffritto as a base for braised meats such as pot roast or osso buco.
  • Versatile Pizza Topping: Spread soffritto onto pizza dough as a flavorful alternative to traditional tomato sauce.
  • Flavorful Omelette or Frittata: Add soffritto to eggs before cooking for a savory twist on omelettes or frittatas.

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Two bowls of Pasta e Fagioli
Spoonful of Pasta e Fagioli up close.

Pasta Varieties for Pasta e Fagioli: Traditional and Creative Options

Pasta e Fagioli, traditionally uses small pasta shapes that can easily soak up the flavorful broth and mingle with the beans. The most common traditional pasta choices include:

  1. Ditalini: These small, tube-shaped pasta pieces resemble tiny tubes or cylinders and are a popular choice for Pasta e Fagioli due to their ability to hold onto the broth and beans.

  2. Tubettini: Similar to ditalini, tubettini are small, tubular pasta shapes that work well in soups and stews, including Pasta e Fagioli.

  3. Elbows: Elbow-shaped pasta is another traditional option for Pasta e Fagioli. The curved shape of elbows allows them to trap bits of beans and broth, making each bite flavorful.

  4. Small Shells: Conchigliette or small shell-shaped pasta can also be used, providing a delightful texture and capturing the essence of the dish.

While these traditional pasta shapes are commonly used in Pasta e Fagioli, there are also alternative options for those looking to add a creative twist to the dish:

  1. Pasta Stars: Tiny star-shaped pasta adds a whimsical touch to Pasta e Fagioli and is especially appealing to children.

  2. Orzo: Though not traditionally Italian, orzo, a small rice-shaped pasta, can be a delicious alternative, providing a slightly different texture to the dish.

  3. Farfalline: These small bow-tie-shaped pasta pieces offer a unique presentation and texture to Pasta e Fagioli.

  4. Acini di Pepe: These tiny, round pasta beads are often used in soups and stews and can be a delightful addition to Pasta e Fagioli.

Cooking Times Will Vary

Please Note: Cooking time will vary if you are using soaked beans vs. canned. We soaked the beans overnight (no salt), dumped the soak water and rinsed the beans and then added in step 4. If using canned beans be sure to rinse them as well to remove the extra starchy water.

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Two bowls of Pasta e Fagioli with crackers.

Savoring Italian Comfort: Storing Leftover Pasta e Fagioli for Prolonged Freshness

Here’s how to store leftover Pasta e Fagioli to maintain its flavor:

  1. Cooling: Allow the leftover Pasta e Fagioli to cool to room temperature before storing it. Avoid leaving it out at room temperature for more than 2 hours to prevent bacterial growth.

  2. Transfer to Containers: Once cooled, transfer the leftover Pasta e Fagioli to airtight containers for storage. Use containers that are suitable for both storing and reheating, such as glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids.

  3. Refrigeration: Store the leftover Pasta e Fagioli in the refrigerator if you plan to consume it within a few days. Proper refrigeration helps to slow down the growth of bacteria and preserve the freshness of the soup. Leftover Pasta e Fagioli can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

  4. Labeling: Properly label the containers with the date of preparation to keep track of its freshness. This helps you identify how long the leftover Pasta e Fagioli has been stored and when it should be consumed by.

Shelf Life: When stored properly in the refrigerator, leftover Pasta e Fagioli can last for 3-4 days. However, for the best flavor and texture, it’s recommended to consume it within a few days of preparation.

By following these storage guidelines, you can enjoy the hearty goodness of leftover Pasta e Fagioli for longer periods, whether as a convenient meal option or a delicious leftover lunch.

How to Make Pasta e Fagioli

Bowl of Pasta e Fagioli with fresh basil.

Pasta e Fagioli

Classic White Bean Pasta e Fagioli, (pah-sta eh fazh-e-ohl-eh), a humble dish of pasta and beans. It's a traditional Italian soup with many variations, but its simplicity and affordability are a deception to the rich flavor it contains.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 16 servings
Author: Mean Green Chef

Equipment

  • Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan

Ingredients

Soffritto

  • 1 large white onion, topped + peeled + chopped
  • 4 large carrots, scrubbed + peeled (if not organic) + diced
  • 4 stalks celery, scrubbed + diced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, sub butter
  • Kosher sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed + chopped
  • ½ Tablespoon oregano leaves, dried
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon basil, dried
  • ¾ teaspoon thyme, ground
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

Soup

  • 1 pound Italian Sausage, hot or sweet, casings removed
  • 1 can (28 ounces) San Marzano tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 6 cups (48 ounces) homemade chicken stock, sub favorite brand
  • cups Cannellini or Navy beans soaked overnight, sub canned + rinsed
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind, optional but preferred
  • 2 large bay leaves

Instructions

  • Blitz the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in a food processor in separate batches. Making sure they are as close to a ½-inch dice as possible. Heat a Dutch Oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium low heat, add the olive oil reheat for 30 seconds and then add the onions, carrots and celery and season generously with Kosher sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Cook stirring often with a flat bottomed wooden spoon, until the vegetables start to sweat out some of their liquid about 10 minutes. Keep in mind low and slow, we don't want color, we just want to soften the soffritto.
    Soffritto cooking for Pasta e Fagioli.
  • Toss in the garlic, oregano, fennel seeds, basil, thyme, and red pepper flakes stir to combine, cover the pot and cook, stirring every 5 minutes (total of 20 minutes), until the vegetables are soft and savory. Reduce the heat if you notice the vegetables start to brown.
    Soffritto with added herbs and seasonings for Pasta e Fagioli.
  • Turn up the heat to medium and add the sausage, breaking apart into bite sized pieces, and cook for 5 minutes.
    Sausage being added to Pasta e Fagioli.
  • Now pour in the tomatoes, chicken stock, beans, and bring to a medium boil (not super aggressive) gently stirring and add Parmesan cheese rind and bay leaves. Reduce the heat back to medium-low for a gentle simmer. Cover the pot so the lid is slightly cracked and cook until the beans are very tender. Anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on if you used soaked or canned beans. Remove the Parmesan cheese rind after cooking is complete.
    Cooking Pasta e Fagioli in a Dutch Oven.
  • While the soup cooks, bring a pot of heavily salted (Kosher sea salt) water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta till al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Don't be tempted to cook the pasta in the soup, unless you want a thick and gummy outcome! Cook them separately and save yourself the heartache of a ruined soup.
    Cook pasta till al dente.
  • Divide pasta among bowls and top with soup, garnish with fresh grated Grana Padano, a drizzle of olive oil, fresh basil and Herbed Crackers or crusty bread for dipping if desired.
    Bowl of Pasta e Fagioli with fresh basil.

Notes

  • Prep time is approximate a food processor makes fine dicing vegetables much faster!
  • Cook pasta separately each time you serve, if you have leftovers store the pasta in an airtight container tossed with a little olive oil. 
  • Store leftover soup in the fridge up to 1 week.
  • Freeze leftovers (without pasta) in an airtight container up to 6 months.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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    Join the Conversation

    1. This recipe looks absolutely delicious! I love all of the fresh ingredients you use! I will definitely be giving it a try.

      1. Great, thanks so much, Morgan!

    2. I really enjoyed reading all about how to make a soffritto, not to mention the recipe proper. Great tip about cooking the pasta separately, too. And such a gorgeous recipe – can’t wait to make it!

      1. Thanks so much, Beth! So glad that our info is helpful and enjoyable to read, be sure to update on your results! 🙂

    3. This looks incredible! My fam will love this so much!

      1. I hope you and your dear family love it, Kendra!! 🙂

    4. This soup looks so amazing. I like to eat soup year around, so for sure I have this on my list of things to make soon!

      1. Thanks so much, we’re year-round soup people too Erika!!

        1. Great recipe! I make my soffritto just like you do..I use it in almost all of my soups and love it in omelets..I will be trying this recipe very soon!!

          1. Agreed I love soffritto in an omelet and made them this past weekend, adds so much flavor. Thanks for visiting, Holly! 🙂

    5. Another delicious that we can try making at home. I’m a big fan of beans and this is perfect not only for winter but for family gatherings. I like the fact that you spell out the Italian pronunciation for us 🙂

      1. Lol, Jane, sometimes phonetics can be helpful! This would be a great pot of soup for a family get together, thanks so much for checking it out! 🙌

    6. Another great recipe shared by the Mean Green Chef! Love it!

      1. Thanks so much, Joanne! 🙂

    7. This looks delicious! Sometimes the best food requires the simplest ingredients. I will be making this!

      1. I agree Cynthia simple ingredients make the best dishes! Thanks so much and be sure to share your results 🙂

    8. Fabulous recipe!

      1. Thanks, Jennifer! 🙂

    9. Looks delicious!

      1. Thanks, Amber! 🙂

      1. Glad that they were helpful, Jennifer! 🙂

    10. Oh my gosh. All your recipes look so good and this one is no different! Delish!

      1. Thanks so much, Laura, so glad that you enjoy our recipes! 🙂

    11. Another great recipe!!!! I printed … and gave it to my mom! Told her to please make this for me this week. She said – OKAY!! I’ll let you know!! Looks awesome. I’m Paleo, but, I don’t care. I’m going to eat the noodles!!! Looks so good!!!!!

      1. Lol, I hope that you guys love it, Kymberly! It’s honestly just as good without the noodles so if you don’t want to eat them, I’m sure you’ll love it with just the beans 🙂

    12. This soup looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it but I am particularly excited about the Soffrito! I love that the Soffrito can be made days in advance and used in different recipes. Thanks for explaining the cooking process! Soffrito’s a great way to get those extra veggies at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

      1. Soffritto is a great way to add flavor and extra veg in a ton of dishes, Jelane! I used a bunch in omelets this past weekend and it’s so quick and tasty, thanks for stopping by 🙂

    13. Your recipes always look so good! Thank you!

      1. Thanks so much, Robin! 🙂

    14. This looks way fancier that the pasta e fagioli my mom would make when we were sick as kids. Such a comfort food but these pictures sure have elevated it to another level.

      1. Nothing like a bowl of mom’s soup when we’re sick, thanks so much for the compliments on my photography! Much appreciated, Angela 🙂

    15. Paloma Cotton says:

      Looks delicious! Love the pictures too!

      1. Thanks so much, Paloma! Really appreciate the compliments on my photography too 🙂

    16. A meal in a bowl…and a yummy one at that!

      1. Thanks, Suzan! 🙂

    17. It’s dinner time and I’m hungry now. Another great-lookin’ recipe. Thx

      1. Thanks so much, Laura! 🙂

    18. We love italian! Thanks for the new recipe!

      1. You can never go wrong with a great Italian meal, Haley! Thanks so much for stopping by to check out our recipe 🙂

    19. Recipe Pinned and ingredients added to my shopping list (Thanks Alexa). This looks absolutely amazing and will be on my menu for this weekend when I’m having family over.

      1. Ha, thanks so much, Stephanie! really hope you love our soup, please be sure to update us with the results and a pic @meangreenchef 🙂

    20. Leigh Ann Newman says:

      What a yummy looking soup! I can totally see me using the soffritto in eggs too. Thanks for the tips!

      1. Soffritto is an awesome addition to eggs, Leigh Ann! Thanks so much for visiting 🙂

    21. Tricia Snow says:

      This recipe looks amazing! I am a big soup maker and lover. Can’t wait to try it!

      1. Me too, Tricia, soup is in the menu nearly every week! Thanks so much 😀

    22. I really don’t fancy myself a food connesuier but I am continually impressed with the amazing dishes you put together. Another gorgeous dish. 🙂

      1. Wow, thank you so much for the wonderful compliments, Jen! They are much appreciated and we are so glad that you’re a part of our kitchen 🙂

    23. I imagine this is way better than Olive Garden. All your recipes are the bomb! Love them!

      1. Thanks so much, Karie! 🙂 It’s better than the OG for sure, not that I’m full of myself but the flavor is amazing. 🙂

    24. As always, this looks amazing!

      1. Thanks so much, Meagan! 🙂

    25. LOVE the soffrito. I HATE cooking and my son went vegan a few months ago so this is something I could make for HIM and we could share it, he could add tofu while I add sausage or chicken. I eat a lot of chicken. Thanks! I never eat enough vegetables so this soffrito is a GREAT way to solve that imbalance.

      1. Soffritto makes a huge difference in so many dishes, it elevates flavor, plus it’s so easy to make! You can also add textured vegetable protein, which has a different texture than tofu but will still stay in line with your son’s diet. Thanks so much for visiting, Marisa 🙂

    26. Tonya | the Writer Mom says:

      Yum! This recipe would really hit the spot on a cool, windy day like today.

      1. It is a perfect cool, windy day kinda soup Tonya!

    27. Your ability to make my stomach growl is unparalleled. This looks like a keeper, too. Thank you!

      1. Lol, thanks so much, Karla! I love making stomachs growl! 😋

    28. Mmmm this looks good! Can’t wait to try it. I’ll just leave out the sausage and cheese.

      1. Thanks so much, Cindy! It will still taste amazing without the sausage and cheese thanks to the soffritto.

    29. Such a delicious sounding and yummy looking dish!!

      1. Thank you, Annette, much appreciated! 🙂

    5 from 18 votes

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