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Pasta e Fagioli soup began in Italy as a simple dish made with inexpensive ingredients, as so many of the country’s most delicious dishes are. After trying several variations, I’ve settled on the Pasta Fagioli recipe that’s perfect for us: a mix of two broths, cannellini beans, sweet Italian sausage, short pasta and broccoli rabe (rapini or lacinato kale) to make it a meal.

Pasta e Fagioli being served from a ladle

Do you perk up at the phrase, ‘peasant dish’? I do. Maybe the word ‘peasant’ began as a way to separate the haves from the have-nots in conversation, but now is more likely to symbolize ingenuity and conjure comforting sensations like the smell of homemade bread baking or a pot of hearty soup bubbling on the stove. To represent dishes with tastes that transcend their humble components. Like Pasta e Fagioli for example which, in Italian, means simply “pasta and beans,” a modest name for a magnificent soup.  Though the soup varies by region in Italy, the fundamentals are the same: olive oil, garlic, vegetables, pasta, beans and flavorful broth that can be made with or without meat. 

Pasta e Fagioli soup served in ceramic bowls

We tried several versions of this soup to arrive at just the right combination of flavors and textures for our tastes, including Marcella Hazan’s version from her famed book, Essentials of Italian Cooking, that calls for finishing the soup with butter instead of olive oil. But the one I’m sharing with you today is my very favorite, a medley of so many flavors and textures that I love, bubbling together in one hearty and delicious soup.

More Delicious Italian Soups to Try

  • Pappa al Pomodoro (Tuscan tomato and bread soup that’s thick like porridge and great at any temperature.)
  • Ribollita (The name literally translates to ‘reboiled’ – this soup changes with the season and is a wonderful way to enjoy leftovers.)
  • Tuscan White Bean Soup (So creamy and garlicky rich – though not high calorie. One of my favorite winter comfort foods.)

A Few Must-Try Pastas

How to Make Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Step 1: Brown sausage in a large soup pot over medium heat. Pour off all but one tablespoon of fat. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and crushed red pepper to sausage; cook and stir until onion is translucent.

Browning Sausage
Softening vegetables with sausage

Step 2: Add broth and tomatoes with juice and dried oregano and thyme; stir and bring to boil. Simmer 15 minutes, uncovered.

Adding Broths
Add tomatoes then simmer

Step 3: Stir in pasta and cook until 3 minutes from being al dente. Stir in broccoli rabe or Italian kale and cannellini beans; cook and stir until greens have wilted and beans are heated through.

Adding Cannellini beans
Stir Pasta e Fagioli soup and simmer

Step 4: Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

PASTA E FAGIOLI SOUP RECIPE VIDEO

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 511
Servings: 6 people
A simple and authentic recipe for Pasta e Fagioli soup! One of my favorite Italian dishes. So easy to make with with sausage, beans, pasta, vegetables and a flavorful broth.

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large carrots chopped (and peeled if you prefer)
  • 2 ribs celery chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 8 ounces uncooked short pasta such as ditalini, macaroni or (my favorite) strozzapreti
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini beans or 2 – 14 1/2-ounce cans, drained
  • 10 ounces broccoli rabe chopped (or Italian kale)
  • shaved Parmesan cheese to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil to taste

Instructions 

  • Add sausage to a large soup pot over medium heat; cook and stir until browned. If needed, pour off all but a tablespoon of any fat that renders. (Or if the sausage is very lean, add in a swirl of olive oil before adding the vegetables.)
  • Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and crushed red pepper to sausage; cook and stir until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add both broths, tomatoes with juice, oregano and thyme; stir and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.
  • Stir in pasta. When pasta has cooked 3 minutes less than the package directs, stir in broccoli rabe and cannellini beans. Cook and stir until broccoli rabe has wilted and beans are heated through. (If you plan to have leftover soup, see recipe note about cooking pasta separately.)
  • Serve sprinkled with shaved Parmesan cheese and a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Notes

If you plan to eat some of the soup as leftovers for a day or two after making it, cook the pasta separately, toss it in a little olive oil and store covered in the refrigerator. Then add in just what you need in the last minute or so of reheating.

Nutrition

Calories: 511kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 1993mg | Potassium: 862mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 5390IU | Vitamin C: 32.5mg | Calcium: 176mg | Iron: 5.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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26 Comments

  1. Roman says:

    When do you add the spices? Can you make this without meat?

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Roman – the spices are added with the tomatoes and their juices – thanks so much for bringing it to my attention that I’d left that out of the recipe. It’s updated now. And feel free to make this without meat, there are plenty of flavors and textures going on without it.

  2. Jessica Ridenour says:

    5 stars
    So yummy! Ours ended up as more of a stew than a soup bc our noodles were dense. I suggest that if you’re using a noodle that has a cook time in the 12 min range, you should add an additional cup of liquid.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      So glad you enjoyed this, Jessica! And thank you for your cooking notes!

  3. Lisa says:

    5 stars
    This is the most delicious homemade soup I’ve ever made! I followed the recipe exactly except doubling the garlic (we LOVE garlic). I used reduced sodium broths because the Italian sausage and the generous amounts of Parmesan used to top the soup, both have quite a bit of salt to begin with.

    My kids don’t like strong-tasting greens, so I left out the broccoli rabe and instead put a handful of chopped, lightly steamed collard greens in each of the adults’ bowls.

    I will say that this recipe makes a very hearty soup with a relatively small amount of liquid. It truly is a meal in a bowl. As the leftovers sit in the fridge, the pasta continues to soak up some of the liquid, so I diluted future servings with more chicken broth.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      So glad that you and your family enjoyed this, Lisa – and that you made it your own!