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.
Pasta Fagioli Meaning and Variations
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.
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. But for this recipe, we are blending several different areas and creating a vegetarian pasta fasul with a tomato based broth.
Simple Ingredients are Used in this Vegetarian Soup
Pasta fagioli is one of my favorite soups to make. It's simple, rustic, hearty and always easy to throw together.
Vegetable Trinity: Carrots, onions and celery are the usual ingredients in most soups. You can also add garlic or keep it out.
Small Shaped Pasta: Elbow 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.
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.
More vegetarian pasta recipes
Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow or white onion diced
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped into ½ inch cubes
- 1 celery rib chopped into ½ inch pieces
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves removed and chopped
- ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes optional for heat
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 15 ounce cans white beans rinsed and drained
- 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 5-6 cups vegetable stock low sodium, preferred
- 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 Parmesan rind optional
- 8 ounces small cut pasta uncooked (elbows or shells)
- In a large dutch oven or pot over medium heat, drizzle olive oil and saute onion, carrot and celery for 4-5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add thyme, oregano and red pepper and continue to saute for another 2 minutes.
- Add tomato paste and stir in. Add beans, vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, bay leaf and small Parmesan rind if using. Cover the pot with a lid but keep a small space open. Bring the soup to a boil and then down to a simmer and continue cooking for about an hour.
- While soup cooks, cook the pasta in a seperate pot and cook until just cooked through. This will make sure the pasta doesn't soak up the soup broth.
- Once everything is cooked, drain pasta and add cooked pasta to the soup. Give everything a good mix and taste for seasoning. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with fresh chopped herbs for garnish.
Smita Mehta says
Delicious pasta recipe with vegetables. Lovely dish. perfect to have in morning breakfast.
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.
Thanks for sharing Carla!! That sounds lovely!! I will certainly try that once the weather cools down a bit!
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...)
Hi Karen!! Wow..good question..lol 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!
Yummyyyyyyyyyyyyyy delicious vegetarian recipes my children loved this thanks for the share
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.
Thank you so much for sharing that Cara! I love learning about cultures and why and how they enjoy their dishes.
Don't forget to remove the bay leaf!!!
You're right Greg!
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?
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!
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!
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!
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 🙂
Oh, I'm going to be adding this to my soup rotation. Looks amazing!
Hi Morgan!! Oh please do and let me know how it comes out! 🙂
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.
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.
In Australia, there's a great brand of Chicken Stock called 'Massel' which is actually vegan, 'chicken style' stock. It's excellent!
Wow vegan chicken stock?? that's fascinating!
Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat says
I love pasta fagioli! One of my favorite winter soups to make 🙂