Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli

We are traveling to Italy today, but I can’t tell you where exactly because this recipe of pasta fagioli soup is probably a combination of several areas all over Italy.

Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli via
Pasta fagioli literally means “pasta and beans” and there are so many variations to the soup. A thinner, soupier consistency can probably be found in Northern Italy. Another variation is to add tomato paste or tomatoes like I did to make a red broth or another variation is to have an all white pasta fagioli soup and just use broth and no tomatoes. I have also seen pasta fagioli made with meat or pancetta. Which is exactly what I asked Joe. He is part Italian and grew up with this soup, and he insisted I make it with no meat and red broth.

Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli via

Pasta fagioli is one of my favorite soups to make. It’s simple, rustic, hearty and always easy to throw together in one pot or even your slow cooker! Like most soups, it starts with the basic trinity or carrots, onions and celery and after that sautes, this is way your mind can go wild! What kind of pasta do I want? What kind of beans? All white or kidney? Do I add tomatoes? can do whatever your little soup heart desires. Though, I do have a trick I like to add to my rustic soups. Parmesan rinds! I always save them as we are at the end of grating and use a small chunk to throw in soups. As the soup cooks, the small bits of leftover Parmesan slowly swirl and thicken the soup and give it a gorgeous background flavor of lightly salty Parmesan.

Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli via

I’d also like to mention that this recipe makes A LOT of soup! I mean a lot! After you add the Parmesan rind and pasta, you will see it get a lot thicker as the soup sits. Which is perfect for “milking out” and feeding a large crowd. You can add more stock the days after and stretch this recipe out even more. Also, this can certainly be made in the slow cooker (as I’ve said before). Just saute the vegetables and then add everything else to the slow cooker.

I love easy and large recipes like this. You can freeze half of it in your freezer for lazy weekdays or serve a hungry army!

And because I’m curious….have you had pasta fagioli this way? Or have you had a different version?

Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli

Yield: 8-10 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tb tomato paste
  • 2 cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small Parmesan rind (optional)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional for heat)
  • 1 1/2 cups small cut pasta, uncooked (elbows or shells)


  1. In a large dutch oven or pot, saute onion, carrot and celery for 3-4 minutes until vegetables begin to break down. Add fresh thyme, red pepper and fresh oregano. Continue to saute for another 2 minutes.
  2. Add 1 TB tomato paste and stir in. Add bay leaf, beans, 5 cups vegetable stock, 2 cups water, crushed tomatoes and small Parmesan rind. Cover the pot with a lid but keep a small space open. Bring the soup to a boil and then allow to reduce and simmer for about an hour.
  3. About 10 minutes before serving, bring the soup to medium high heat and add pasta. Allow soup to cook until pasts is cooked. Serve with fresh chopped parsley or basil.

Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli via


  1. Anne Stanislow says

    The use of chicken stock means this is no longer vegetarian. Use a good quality vegetable stock for a vegetarian version

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Hi Anne! That was a typing error on my part..its been changed and I hope you enjoy the recipe! Thanks for letting me know :)

  2. Eve says

    Lovely dish, I just wanted to comment on one small detail: you call it a “vegetarian” dish, yet there is chicken stock. I know it is always possible to substitute with vegetable stock, but it would be appreciated if you did not say it was vegetarian when there is in fact animal products :) To us vegetarians it is obvious, but to others who may be cooking for a vegetarian it may not be.

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Hi Eve! Thank you for your comment. That was a typing error on my part, and I do apologize! I put vegetable stock in the instructions, but failed to say that in the ingredients. It’s been changed and I hope you enjoy the recipe.

  3. says

    I love pasta fagioli. And you are so right – it varies across Italy, from region to region, even from house to house. My own dad liked it one way, and yet his brother liked it another! The addition of a bit of tomato paste for a rosy broth is particularly common in Italy’s Mezzogiorno. Yours looks great – hearty and soul-satisfying, just like “pasta fazool” ought to be. Complimenti!

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Adri..thank you so much for your kind words and wonderful comment..I truly appreciate it! I was thinking of trying a “lighter” broth next time. Maybe just vegetable stock and tomato paste instead of crushed tomatoes!

  4. Barb says

    I am getting to make this now. Can’t wait. Just one question. The instruction say to add red pepper, but it is not listed in the ingredients. Is is red pepper flakes or sweet red bell pepper chopped?

    Thank you.

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Hi Barb! Sorry about that. It is red pepper flakes. That is optional if you like a bit extra heat. I just added it to the recipe…hope you enjoy and please let me know when you make it!

  5. Cara says

    Lived in Naples for 3 years, this was a Saturday meal there.. I learned from my Neopolitan landlord to use the rest of your Marinara (gravy) for the week, add white beans, water and pasta.. Cook the pasta in the soup and serve. You could use broth if you wanted, but this was peasant food, using what was left of the weeks food, never wasting. They also took the leftovers (which are very thick), add flour and make patties for lunch on Sunday.

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Thank you so much for sharing that Cara! I love learning about cultures and why and how they enjoy their dishes.

  6. Karen says

    How does this compare to minestrone? What’s the difference? Both are veg soups with beans and some noodles, no? (Not that I won’t try this, of course. Just wondering…)

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Hi Karen!! Wow..good The pasta fagioli I’ve had at restaurants has always had a thicker tomato sauce, almost like a stew and always had small pasta shapes. Minestrone seems to focus more on beans..but really, besides that, I think they are very similar!

  7. Carla Comarella says

    In my past of Italy ( I was born in Feltre, Belluno) we don’t put in tomato paste. We usually use pinto beans cooked from scratch. Just before adding the pasta, we take some of the beans out, smash them and add then back in to thicken the soup. You might want to try this variation.

    • SamanthaSamantha says

      Thanks for sharing Carla!! That sounds lovely!! I will certainly try that once the weather cools down a bit!


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