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Pasta e fagioli is a classic Italian soup that’s perfect for a cozy night in. It has beans, pancetta, garlic, and plenty of veggies to make it an incredibly flavorful rustic soup!
What is pasta e fagioli?
Pasta and beans! This classic Italian soup started as a “peasant” dish with inexpensive ingredients, and it’s definitely stood the test of time because it’s just so tasty! You might be familiar with the Olive Garden version of pasta e fagioli, but this one is closer to a traditional rendition of the soup since it has pancetta.
Aside from being totally delicious, this soup is relatively healthy. There’s not a ridiculous quantity of pancetta in here, just enough that you know it’s there! It’s hearty and filling and perfect for winter temperatures.
What is pancetta?
- Pancetta is a salty Italian bacon made from pork belly. It’s cured through salting and brining, and then it’s dried instead of being smoked, which differs from the North American bacon you’re used to.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Pancetta – you can substitute normal bacon or even prosciutto if you wish. I buy pre-diced pancetta from the deli section of my local grocery store, but you can definitely cut it into cubes yourself if you buy a chunk of it.
- Onion, carrots, and celery – this is the backbone of any good soup to enhance flavor!
- Garlic – infuses even more savory flavor into the broth
- Tomatoes – we’re using a can of diced tomatoes, but you can used crushed if you prefer
- Italian seasoning – a blend of several dried herbs that comes in one convenient jar
- Chicken broth – gives a lot of flavor to the soup. You can also use chicken stock.
- Beans – we’re using cans of both red kidney beans and cannellini beans (white kidney beans). You could swap for navy beans too.
- Pasta – ditalini is the usual variety you see in this soup, but any small shape will be fine
How to make pasta e fagioli soup
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Start by sautéing the pancetta in a large pot until crispy. Prep the carrots, onion, and celery while it’s frying, and then add them to the pot. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic, diced tomatoes, and Italian seasoning, and cook until the liquid has reduced. Pour in the chicken broth and the beans, then bring the soup to a boil.
Once it’s boiling, add in the pasta, then simmer until the pasta is al dente. Season as needed, keeping in mind the pancetta is salty already. Enjoy!
- The secret to making this soup really flavorful is the step where we add the tomatoes and reduce the liquid. It really concentrates the flavors and is well worth the extra 10 minutes or so that it takes!
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in a covered container.
- The pasta will likely soak up a lot of broth, so add a splash of chicken broth when reheating over a low heat.
- If you think you’ll have a large amount of leftovers or you’re planning to freeze it, I recommend boiling the pasta separately and adding it to the soup when serving it since pasta doesn’t hold up well in the freezer.
Did you make this pasta e fagioli recipe? Questions? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Easy Pasta e Fagioli
- 1 (4.4 ounce) package diced pancetta
- 1/2 large onion chopped
- 4 sticks celery chopped
- 3 medium carrots chopped or sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (28 fluid ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 4 cups chicken broth/stock
- 1 (15 fluid ounce) can red kidney beans drained
- 1 (15 fluid ounce) can cannellini beans drained
- 1 cup pasta (ditalini or macaroni)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Shaved parmesan cheese optional, for serving
- Add the pancetta to a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté until it starts to get crispy. I like to prep the other veggies while doing this step.
- Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the garlic, followed by the diced tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Be sure to scrape up the brown bits. Let it bubble until the liquid is noticeably reduced (stir occasionally) to help concentrate the flavor. This should take 8-10 minutes or so.
- Add the chicken broth and beans to the pot. Increase the heat to high. Once the soup is boiling, add the pasta.
- Reduce the heat to a rapid simmer and cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is nice and tender. I suggest stirring every few minutes so the pasta doesn't stick the bottom of the pot.
- Season soup with salt & pepper as needed (the soup should be fairly salty already). This soup is delicious served with some shaved parmesan!
- The pasta in these types of soup tends to soak up the broth, so you may want to add more broth/stock when reheating leftovers. If the soup is too thick for you once the pasta has finished cooking, thin it out with more chicken broth if desired.
- You don’t have to be exact with the pancetta measurements… anything in the ballpark works (packaging sizes vary from place to place).
- Use low-sodium chicken broth if sensitive to salt.
- Want to kick the flavor up even more? Throw in a parmesan rind when cooking this soup.
- Try the Instant Pot version of this recipe if you wish.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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This recipe was originally published on January 2, 2019. It’s been tweaked to be even easier, tastier, and has new photos!