This is my favorite soup ever. An easy, satisfying and classic Italian dish. Comfort in a bowl – or in this case, a mug.
I’ve been making Pasta e Fagioli for years, and we have it in my house at least every other week. The only reason it hasn’t appeared on the blog yet is because it’s typically a late-night/last-minute what’s-for-dinner soup (which means not so great for pictures) or I’m just too busy enjoying it that I don’t think to document it!
Today, as I heated up a leftover bowl, I reminded myself I’ve been meaning to share this one. This is also a perfect meal for when you don’t feel like standing over the stove. It comes together under an hour, and doesn’t take much prep.
Pasta e Fagioli translates to pasta and beans, a classic soup that’s often found in Italian restaurants, and can have tons of variations like using red kidney beans or a different pasta.
I have yet to really stray away from my household recipe, but I have played around with different pastas. I usually add either ditalini (pictured) or orecchiette, and I’ve even added gnocchi before! It was so. good.
I made this dish in Colorado for Matt, my dad and I after a long day of hitting the slopes earlier this year, and it was perfect. We ate such great food all week! One night, we made broccoli rabe and sausage pizza (recipe here). You can see Matt a.k.a “dough boy” prepping the dough in our mountain-town kitchen. I’m so excited to go back, especially with my brand new Nikon! Better pictures on the way..
But before I get to the recipe, I want to also share the incredible life-changing doesn’t-read-like-a-cookbook cookbook: Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosart. I absolutely love it!
Nosart is not only an exceptional writer, but she proves herself to be a fantastic chef. I read over 100 pages the first time I opened the book! It’s all about mastering and balancing the elements of great food: salt, acid, fat and heat. The illustrations are beautiful, the book is a pretty hardcover (I just love a good hardcover!) and I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in becoming a better cook.
Okay. Back to Pasta e Fagioli.
This soup is easy, and you can make as little or as much as you want. The combination of creamy cannellini beans, earthy rosemary and smoky bacon make this a go-to comfort/long day at work/need a hug dish.
Pair this with some crusty bread and you’ll have a delicious and satisfying meal. I’ve been playing around with baguettes lately – my new favorite bread to make. They come together so quickly, I am obsessed. Thank you genius Artisan Bread in Five recipe! I seriously could live off just bread. Lately, it feels like I do. Yep – living off bread.
I just had to share this picture I took on my new Nikon. Isn’t that beautiful? Is this a french bakery or my kitchen?
Feel free to tweak these amounts so they work for you. I like my soup on the thicker side, so if you are more of a liquidy soup person, use a full 2 quarts of broth. As I mentioned in my previous post, my recipes are pretty flexible unless otherwise noted. Don’t have mini San Marzano tomatoes? Chop up a large tomato, use tomato paste or toss a few sun-dried tomatoes in there. No fresh herbs? You can use dried if you have to. No Parmigiano rind? Just toss in a chunk of Parmigiano or Pecorino in your soup during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Don’t overthink it – it’ll be delicious.
Pasta e Fagioli
- 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth ( I always use unsalted)
- 1-1/2 cups short pasta (I like ditalini, orecchiette or gnocci)
- 1 large can of cannellini (white kidney) beans
- Bacon (not sweet!) or few slices of pancetta
- Dry white wine, like Pinot Grigio
- 2 carrots sliced
- 1-2 celery stalks sliced*
- 1 onion diced
- 1-2 cloves garlic diced
- 2 large handfuls of mini San Marzano tomatoes or 2tbs tomato paste
- Bouquet garni of fresh rosemary and thyme**
- 1 Parmigiano rind
- 1-2 bay leaves
- high quality extra-virgin olive oil (goes without saying)
- Heat a dutch oven or large pot to medium heat, and cook up some bacon. I use my beloved Le Creuset dutch oven for this dish. I usually cook up an entire package and save half of it for another use, but you can use as much or as little as you like. If you don’t eat meat, I’ve made this dish many times without it.
- Once crispy, remove bacon from pan and drain off some of the fat if there’s a lot (if using) and store in an air-tight container. (I like to use Mason jars. Bacon grease has many uses! Don’t know any? Just ask.)
- Add onions, carrots and celery to pot. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper if using. (be mindful if you are using salted broth!) Toss to combine, and cook until onions start to become translucent.
- Add tomatoes and garlic, toss to combine, and deglaze pan with white wine. (Make sure your pan is hot – the wine should sizzle!)
- When liquid has evaporated by half, add bouquet garni, bay leaves, Parmigiano rind and broth (and tomato paste if using that instead).
- Let soup flavors come together in the first 10 minutes before adding your can of cannellini beans.
- Let simmer. Cook 15-20 more minutes and season to taste.
- Add pasta, and cook until pasta is al dente.
- Remove bouquet garni. Serve with drizzles of good olive oil, grated Parmigiano and crusty bread.
*I rarely add celery since I hardly ever seem to have it in my house, but onions, carrots and celery – or soffrito – is an Italian base of flavors that acts as a foundation to many Italian dishes.
**Bouquet garni is a fancy French term for a bundle of herbs. I typically will gather a few sprigs of rosemary and will tie several sprigs of fresh thyme around them. Another option, which I’ve also used many times, is just to simply chop up your herbs and toss them in.