Pasta e Fagioli Soup, aka ‘pasta and beans,’ is a traditional Italian soup using mini pasta, sausage, and vegetables in a tomato based broth.
Nothing says comfort food like a brimming bowl of this classic Italian soup on a cold day! Of course, it’s a very popular soup here at home and since it’s loaded with hearty amounts of Italian sausage, vegetables, beans and pasta we load up on it for dinners anytime of the year.
Anyone else only know that this soup exists because of Olive Garden? Yep, me too! But ever since enjoying the soup there when I was younger, I knew I had to make a version for the whole family to enjoy. My pasta fagioli (also called pasta fasul or pasta fazool here in the U.S., based on the Neapolitan version of the name pasta e fasule) has been a staple family favorite soup ever since!
Best of all, this soup is super fast and easy to make and the ingredients are affordable and very versatile! Like the similar Minestrone soup, pasta e fagioli soup started out as a peasant meal that was meant to use what was available on hand.
What’s the Difference Between Minestrone and Pasta e Fagioli Soup?
Minestrone soup is traditionally made with primarily vegetables, it literally is one of those soups that was meant to use up foods that were on hand or going bad. It’s a recipe that is very fluid, meaning you can add almost anything to it as far as vegetables go. Pasta e Fagioli is made using pasta and beans, and usually has Italian sausage (and sometimes ground beef) as an ingredient as well.
What Kind of Pasta is Used in Pasta e Fagioli Soup?
Traditionally (and as seen at the Olive Garden restaurant) small pasta such as ditalini, the tiny short tubes seen here. Other pastas, such as orecchiete, pipettes, elbow noodles, mini farfalle or mini shells, and even orzo can also be used.
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
- 2 c ditalini pasta (cooked per package instructions)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1 lb Italian sausage (spicy or sweet, with casing removed)
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 3 medium carrots (rinsed and chopped)
- 2 ribs celery (rinsed and chopped)
- 1 Tbsp garlic (minced)
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme (or rosemary or marjoram)
- 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3 c chicken broth (3/4 of a 32 oz container)
- 3 c beef broth (3/4 of a 32 oz container)
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- salt & pepper (to taste)
- 1 15 oz can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
- 1 15 oz can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed, or use Great Northern beans or other white bean variety)
- grated Parmesan cheese (optional garnish)
- Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped, optional garnish)
- Heat a stockpot or dutch oven to medium high heat, add olive oil and heat until shimmering.
- Add the Italian sausage, allow to cook for about 1 minute, then break apart into small chunks. Continue to cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add mirepoix (onion, carrots, celery) and garlic, cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add seasoning (Italian seasoning, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes) and tomato paste, chicken and beef broth, then stir to combine.
- Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, stir and season with salt and pepper (to taste).
- Add the cannellini and red kidney beans, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add cooked pasta to your pasta e fagioli soup directly, over portioned into serving bowls with the pasta fagioli served over the cooked noodles.
- Garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and/or chopped parsley, if desired.