Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)

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By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Rich nourishing bone broth with frugal beans and pasta make Pasta e Fagioli  perfect for a large family dinner on a cold night.

(Kimi – This recipe is a perfect example of how simple and delicious it is to get beautiful, nourishing, health-building broth into your family, which is why we wanted to share it along with my post, 10 reasons homemade broth should be part of your diet!  Read the introduction to our series, 21 steps to a nourishing diet, and find out what a nourishing diet can and cannot do for you here. )

This recipe can be easily adapted for gluten-free and vegetarian diets by using vegetable broth instead of chicken, and eliminating the pasta completely or using a gluten-free brand of macaroni instead. Kimi recommends this brand. (Amazon links are affiliate)

Pasta e Fagioli is traditionally a peasant dish, as the ingredients are incredibly frugal. This particular recipe is one that my Italian family has been using for multiple generations. Even today when I walk into my 93 year old grandfather’s kitchen, this soup, bubbling away in his big aluminum pot, always comes to my mind.

My mother lovingly served our family this soup all throughout my childhood. “Bean Soup” nights were always my favorite! It wasn’t until after I graduated from college, and moved overseas for a year, that I finally learned to make it myself. I was living in China, and missing the traditional Italian food that was so easily accessible in the states. That was the year that I learned how to cook for myself from scratch, continuing the tradition of passing this recipe down the family line.

This soup is easily adaptable to whatever ingredients you have on hand. My grandfather, and mother, would frequently use a scoop of marinara sauce, instead of diced tomatoes. If you make this during the summer, fresh diced tomatoes, and herbs from the garden would work great as well. I like my pasta e fagioli heavy on the garlic, and with a nice kick from the crushed red pepper. You can adapt this to your family’s taste quickly and easily.

To keep this soup as frugal as possible, it’s best to use dried cannellini (or white kidney) beans. By soaking the beans overnight to remove irritating phytic acid, cooking them, and adding them to the rest of the ingredients, you’ve saved quite a bit of money! If you’re in a pinch, and need a fast meal, canned beans work great too. I often use Eden Organic’s canned cannellini beans, because the beans have been soaked and cooked with kombu seaweed, and their cans are BPA-free. They are a little pricy, but are a very good option if you are not able to use dried beans.

This soup is always better the next day, after the flavors have melded together overnight. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, enjoy a bowl for a wonderfully nourishing lunch!

Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 6-8
 
This nourishing soup will warm your family up on cold winter nights! The recipe can be easily adapted to your taste buds or dietary needs.
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5-6 Cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 15oz Cans of cannellini beans (I like Eden Organic's BPA-free canned beans), or 1½ cups of dried cannellini beans that have been soaked overnight, and cooked (about 5 cups cooked)
  • 7 Cups of chicken broth (vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
  • 1 Cup chopped tomatoes (I love Pomi chopped tomatoes in a BPA-free carton)
  • ½ teaspoon Dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon. Dried oregano
  • ⅛-1/2 teaspoon. Crushed red pepper flakes, depending on how much "kick" you like
  • 1lb Ditalini pasta, or other short cut pasta like elbow macaroni or tubetti (a gluten-free pasta can be easily substituted as well)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • OPTIONAL: Parmesan cheese and chopped flat leaf parsley
Instructions
  1. In a large pot heat the olive oil, and sauté the minced garlic for a minute or two. Be sure that it doesn't brown.
  2. Add your beans (previously cooked, or canned with liquid), broth, tomatoes, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.
  3. Allow the soup to simmer for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Shortly before the soup is done, boil salted water for the pasta, and cook it al dente according to the package.
  5. When serving, spoon ¼-1/2 cup of the pasta into bowls, and ladle soup on top. I prefer not to store any leftover pasta in the leftover soup as it typically soaks up a lot of the broth and becomes soggy.
  6. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese or freshly chopped parsley on top.

Other soups you may enjoy:

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Hi, I’m April Swiger, wife to my best friend, and worship-pastor, Adam. We are hopeful adoptive parents waiting to bring home children from foster care. We live in Connecticut, less than an hour from where I grew up. As a native New Englander, I was brought up on delicious meals by my mother who values the art of cooking. Her guidance instilled in me foundational skills, and confidence in the kitchen from a very young age. After graduating from James Madison University I spent six years in campus ministry, including a year in East Asia. As a result, my cooking has been greatly influenced by Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. You can bet that I fully indulged in many traditional, and unique, Asian dishes that year!/div> I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with simple, nourishing recipes, while strategically keeping to our tight ministry budget. On any given day you’ll find my crockpot bubbling with rich bone broth, mason jars full of coconut oil in the cabinet, and beans or grains soaking on the radiator. When I’m not caring for my husband and our home, you can find me reading, writing, blogging at Redemptive Homemaking, making my own beauty products, and researching new skills like gardening and lacto-fermentation. Whether it’s marriage, homemaking, or serving in our local church, I am first and foremost a follower of King Jesus, and my aim is to glorify Him with all that I do. 

Comments

  1. says

    You have a new logo! I love it!

    And two things: I wanted to say thank you for including the amounts for dried beans. I never know how many beans to make when I soak and cook them myself. What volume of beans equals a can? Now I know!

    Secondly, what a great idea to store the pasta separate! Why didn’t I ever think of that?? I hate soggy pasta.

  2. Siobhan says

    This can’t be all you eat for dinner. My Sicilian husband might think I have lost it only serving this. :) So, what do you serve this with? Let us know. Thanks.

    • says

      Siobhan,

      I am sure that April has some wonderful ideas as well, but just wanted to mention that we really enjoy soup with a big green salad (sometimes with lots of protein sources in it – beans, meat, etc) and buttered bread. Or we just all eat 5 bowls of soup and call it a night. ;-)

    • says

      Siobhan, thanks for your comment! When we eat this soup, I always serve it with a big salad, and possibly some bread and butter for dipping. We frequently eat it as a main dish, help ourselves to seconds, and have always been very satisfied :)

  3. Kelli says

    I make a Crockpot of risi e fagioli every week with a pound of ground beef or stew meat and 2 cups of cooked rice instead of pasta to be gluten free. We love it!

  4. says

    I made this tonight and it was so delicious! I’m totally knocked down with a cold, but I managed to lackadaisically put this together throughout the afternoon. I usually don’t keep the liquid in with the beans when I use canned, but I tried it and it made it richer and heartier. It was perfect!

    The kids ate it with gusto and hubby was very complimentary! I have found a new staple! Thanks so much for sharing it, April.

    • says

      I’m so glad to hear you, and your family, enjoyed it Natalia! But what a bummer about the cold. I hope you feel better soon. Thanks for your kind words, and I’m glad the recipe worked well for you!

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