Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)

Italian cuisine or an American staple?

Although I have visited Italy multiple times, I had never been to the most southern part of the country and (probably) therefore hadn’t heard about Pasta e Fagioli until…I came to the U.S.!

Here on the East Coast, every corner deli serves their own version of this hearty Southern Italian dish that started off as a peasant meal.

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Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Pasta and Bean Soup)

  • Servings: 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil + extra for drizzling
  • 3 ounces / 85 grams of pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced to a paste
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce / 794 gram) can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 (15-ounce / 425 gram) cans of cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 (5 by 2-inch) Parmesan cheese rind, plus 2 ounces of Parmesan, grated (1 cup)
  • 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces / 225 grams of ditalini, orzo, conchigliette or other small pasta
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley + 1 tablespoon for garnish


  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, 3 – 5 minutes. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and translucent, 5 – 7 minutes. Add garlic, anchovies, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juice, scraping any brown bits, Add beans and Parmesan rind, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add broth, water and 1 teaspoon of salt; increase heat to high again and bring the soup to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

  2. Remove and discard the Parmesan rind. Turn off the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons of parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the soup into soup bowls, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the remaining parsley. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan.

Tip: The Parmesan rind is added for flavor. If you don’t have one, you can replace it with a chunk of good quality Parmesan cheese.


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