This Olive Garden pasta e fagioli recipe is a restaurant-quality soup that's simple to make in your own kitchen! It's loaded with rich flavors in an irresistibly warming soup.
Why you'll love it
This pasta e fagioli with ground beef was inspired by everybody's favorite restaurant soup! I wouldn't say it's a straight up copycat recipe, but it's got all the tasty flavors you crave like tender beef, hearty pasta, and plenty of beans in a perfectly seasoned tomato broth.
It's also one of those soups that is really hands off once you get it going. Most of the cooking time is letting it simmer away and having your kitchen smell amazing. Our version of this restaurant favorite is even tastier than Olive Garden, and we hope you agree!
What does pasta e fagioli mean?
- Pasta and beans! It started out as a dish that was inexpensive yet delicious and hearty that was created by Italian peasants. For something closer to a traditional Italian recipe with pancetta, try my Easy Pasta e Fagioli.
Ingredients for it
- Ground beef - I like 90% lean
- Onion, celery, carrots, garlic - the foundation of a good broth
- Tomatoes - we're using cans of crushed and diced tomatoes for the best texture and flavor
- Beans - red kidney beans and cannellini beans are a great duo
- Chicken broth - to make it richer
- Red wine vinegar - just a touch to enhance flavor
- Sugar - it's an old restaurant trick to take the acidity off the tomatoes
- Italian seasoning - a flavorful blend of dried Italian herbs that's conveniently in one jar
- Dried oregano and basil - to infuse even more herby flavor
- Red pepper flakes - optional, but they do add a special something-something, like a gentle warmth (not spicy)
- Pasta - ditalini is the usual variety. They're tiny and perfect for this soup!
- Measuring out 4 cups of chicken broth is really simple. All you need is to open up a 32 oz carton and use the entire thing in this soup!
How to make pasta e fagioli
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, brown the ground beef. Add in the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in the remaining ingredients apart from the pasta and salt & pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer. Stir in the ditalini, and then simmer until the pasta is tender. Season with salt & pepper.
Tools for this recipe
Substitutions and variations
- Macaroni or another small shape of pasta would work if you can't find ditalini.
- You could use tomato sauce (similar to passata) instead of the crushed tomatoes depending what you've got in your pantry. This soup is quite flexible!
- Swapping the chicken broth for beef broth would be just fine.
- Try using Italian sausage instead of the ground beef. Ground turkey would be ok too but a bit drier and not quite as flavorful.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will last for 3-4 days in the fridge, but keep in mind the pasta will soak up the liquid and get puffy the longer you leave it.
- You may need to add a splash of broth to revive leftovers. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave over a low heat, stirring occasionally.
- I don't recommend freezing the soup with the pasta in it. If you want, make the soup ahead, freeze it without the pasta, then add pasta to individual portions as needed when reheating.
Let me know in the comments below if you made it! I'd love to hear from you. Or tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram to show me your creations.
Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 sticks celery chopped finely
- 2 medium carrots peeled & chopped finely
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) can red kidney beans drained
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) can cannellini beans or great northern beans drained
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional (or add more to taste)
- 3/4 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Add the beef to a soup pot or Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat until just browned, breaking it up with your spoon as it cooks. I don't drain the fat.
- Stir in the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic, and cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, canned beans, chicken broth, red wine vinegar, sugar, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes (everything except the pasta and salt & pepper). Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat and let the soup simmer (covered, with the lid slightly open) for 15-20 minutes.
- Add the pasta in and continue to simmer until it's tender (about 15-20 minutes). Cover the pot again with the lid slightly ajar. Stir the soup a few times while it's cooking so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Note: if you're planning on lots of leftovers, I recommend cooking the pasta separately and adding it to individual portions as needed (continue simmering for another 15 minutes to build flavors then add the pasta at the end).
- Season the soup with salt & pepper as needed.
- The sugar isn't strictly necessary, but it does bring out the sweetness of canned tomatoes and give this soup more of an American restaurant-style taste.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.