This easy vegetarian pasta fagioli recipe is hearty, filling and full of bold flavors. The hearty soup has two kinds of beans, tender pasta, sweet tomatoes and lots of fresh herbs. And my personal touch, a small chunk of Parmesan rind that slowly dissolves as the soup cooks.
About This Recipe
Pasta fagioli is one of my favorite soups to make. The Italian soup is simple, rustic, hearty and always easy to throw together.
Pasta fagioli literally means "pasta and beans" in Italian and there are so many variations to the soup. A thinner, soupier consistency can probably be found in Northern Italy, where as other variations add tomato paste or tomatoes for a deep red tomato broth. And if you don't like tomatoes, make a white pasta fagioli with vegetable stock, beans and pasta.
Vegetable Trinity: Carrots, onions and celery are the usual ingredients in most soups.
Small Shaped Pasta: Ditalini pasta or macaroni shapes do well in this soup because they are similar sizes as the beans.
Beans: Two types of beans are in this vegetarian pasta fasul soup. Both red kidney and white beans offer different flavors and textures.
Canned Crushed Tomatoes: or you can use diced tomatoes, or canned whole tomatoes but use your hands to give them a good squish.
Parmesan Rind: My secret weapon in soups and tomato sauces. When I buy a chunk of Parmesan and use the cheese, I will always save the rind for recipes like this. As the soup cooks, the rind slowly disintegrates giving the overall soup another layer of savory flavor.
See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
🍋 Substitutions and Variations
- Pasta Choices: Feel free to experiment with different pasta shapes. While traditional recipes use small pasta like Ditalini or elbow macaroni, you can use whole wheat pasta or gluten-free options to suit your dietary preferences.
- Vegetables: Customize the pasta fagioli with additional veggies, such as spinach, kale or chopped zucchini.
- Cheese: Instead of Parmesan cheese, grate some Pecorino Romano cheese, which is a sharp sheep's milk cheese.
Step 1: Drizzle olive oil in a soup pot and bring up to medium heat. Add chopped onion, celery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes.
Step 2: Add chopped garlic and spices and continue sautéing for another minute.
Step 3: Add tomato paste and stir the paste into the vegetables for another minute.
Step 4: Add the kidney beans and white beans to the vegetables.
Step 5: Pour in the vegetable stock and crushed tomatoes and add a bay leaf a chunk of Parmesan rind.
Step 6: Cook the soup on a strong simmer for 45 minutes then add the pasta in and continue cooking until pasta is just cooked through.
Step 7: Once the soup is done, the pasta should be al dente, the vegetables tender and the pasta fagioli should have thickened nicely.
📍 Recipe Tips and Cooking Variations
Make Ahead: This soup is a breeze to make ahead of time If cooking ahead, cook the pasta separately and add cooked pasta just before serving. This will help so the pasta doesn't soak up too much broth.
Freezing: Just like making head, I suggest keeping the cooked pasta seperate from the soup and adding before serving. Other then the pasta, the rest of the soup freezes very well.
Making Pasta Fagioli in the Slow Cooker: Follow the same directions as the stove top instructions and instead of cooking in a dutch oven on the stove, set slow cooker on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
Cook the Pasta Separately: For a slightly thinner consistency, cook the pasta separately and add the cooked pasta when serving.
Absolutely! Pasta e Fagioli actually tastes better as it sits, so it's a fantastic option for meal prep. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
To make the soup gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta, such as rice or corn-based pasta, and ensure that all your other ingredients, like vegetable broth and canned beans, are gluten-free as well.
Yes, this soup freezes well. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container. The soup can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, simply thaw it in the fridge overnight and warm it on the stovetop.
- Serve vegetarian pasta fagioli with a side of garlic focaccia bread to dip into the thick stew.
- Pair it with crisp arugula and parmesan salad or shredded brussels sprouts salad.
More Vegetarian Pasta Recipes
Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli
- 3 tablespoons olive oil + more for garnish
- ½ yellow or white onion diced
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 1 celery rib diced
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped or grated
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¾ teasooon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes optional for heat
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 15 ounce canned white beans rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce canned red kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 5 cups vegetable stock low sodium, preferred
- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Parmesan rind
- 8 ounces ditalini pasta or other small shaped, such as macaroni
- Grated parmesan for garnish
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- In a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and saute the onion, carrot and celery for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften.
- Add the chopped garlic, thyme, oregano, Kosher salt and red pepper and continue to saute for another minute.
- Add the tomato paste and stir the paste into the sautéed vegetable. Then add the beans, vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, bay leaf and small Parmesan rind.
- Cover the pot with a lid, leaving a small opening and bring the soup to a boil and then down to a simmer and continue cooking for 45 minutes, stirring every so often.
- At the last 15 minute mark, add the pasta directly to the simmering soup and continue cooking until the pasta is just cooked through and the soup has thickened.
- Once done, give everything a good mix and taste for seasoning. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.