Pasta e Fagioli (literally pasta and beans) – the classic Italian soup that whips up quickly and satisfies your hunger, pickiest eaters, and comfort food craving.
How do you say that?
I can still hear my grandma say this. Her “p” sometimes sounded like “b,” so phonetically, it sounded something like this: “basta eh fa-jo-lee.” But with a softer “g” sound. I can’t figure out the best way to write that, so use your imagination. Or seek out an Italian grandma and kindly ask her to read it for you.
In our cute little Americanized way, you may hear it pronounced closer to “pasta fa-zool.” Admittedly, I am usually torn on things like this. As much as I want to (and try at times) to preserve authentic pronunciations and recipes, they sometimes get lost in translation and American tastes. So typically in our home we refer to this as simply “bean and pasta soup.”
Which is fair, since “pasta e fagioli” literally translates to “pasta and beans.”
This isn’t the Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli
If you’ve ever heard of pasta e fagioli, it’s likely because you’ve seen it on the Olive Garden menu. So although we can thank them for bringing one of our greatest soups to the forefront, I cannot say that it’s anything like the pasta e fagioli we had growing up.
For one, they use ground beef in it. Ummmmm. No. Just no. There’s no meat in this soup, ok? And tomatoes? Nah. Granted, we ate a tomato-based pasta e fagioli as kids (which is another post in itself that I’m sure I’ll share sometime soon), but it was tomato sauce, not diced tomatoes.
Come on, Olive Garden. Get it together.
White beans vs. red beans
So I’ve learned over the years that there’s basically two versions of pasta e fagioli – red and white. I don’t know if this is based on region or preference or what, but it seems to be a thing.
Our family always made the red version – with a tomato base and red kidney beans. And it’s good! But if I’m being honest – and I always am with you – I don’t care for red kidney beans. Their skin is a little tougher and they aren’t as creamy as other beans. Light red kidney beans are a decent substitute, but what I really love are cannellini beans.
Pasta e fagioli with white beans is super creamy because of cannellini beans. Nothing against the red version. I still make it. But it’s nice to change things up a bit!
What you need for Pasta e Fagioli with White Beans:
- extra virgin olive oil
- cannellini beans
- vegetable stock
- fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- hand-held immersion blender
How you make it:
Heat the olive oil and chopped garlic in a pot over medium heat until it starts to fill the kitchen with that wonderful warm aroma and starts to brown, about 3 minutes. Add half of the cannellini beans and stir.
In a separate bowl or large measuring cup with a pour spout, add the rest of the beans and half of the vegetable stock and blend them with the blender until smooth. You could also use a food processor or traditional blender for this. Don’t skip this part! It’s crucial to the creamy consistency.
Once blended, add to the pot.
Pour the rest of the vegetable stock into the pot and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and simmer until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and chopped parsley. I like it just like this, but you could also top it with grated Parmesan or pesto.
What kind of pasta should you use and how does this soup keep?
The best kind of pasta for this soup is literally whatever you have in your pantry. As long as it’s not spaghetti or linguine or something.
Since it’s going in a soup you need a relatively short pasta that can easily be spooned up in a bite. We typically use elbow macaroni or shells, but this time all I had on hand was rigatoni. It’s a little big for a soup, but it still worked fine.
Also. I have one word for you: leftovers. If you have any of this soup left, it’s even better the next day. I don’t like leftover pasta, it’s sticky and gross. Unless it’s in soup – then I love it. It absorbs all the flavors and makes the soup a bit thicker (which is generally how I enjoy soup; none of this soupy soup stuff). If you find that it’s too thick for your taste, you can always add a little bit of water before reheating it.
What to serve with Pasta e Fagioli with White Beans:
So what do you think? Do you have a spare 15 minutes to try this classic Italian soup this week? Let us know how you like it in the comments!
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Pasta e Fagioli with White Beans
- 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic chopped
- 4 cans of cannellini beans
- 4 c. vegetable stock
- 8 oz. pasta
- fresh parsley chopped
- salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil and chopped garlic in a pot over medium heat until fragrant and slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cans of cannellini beans, undrained, and stir.
- In a bowl or large measuring cup with a pour spout, add the remaining 2 cans of beans and 2 cups of vegetable stock. Blend with a handheld immersion blender until smooth. You could also use a food processor or traditional blender for this. Once blended, add to the pot.
- Pour the rest of the vegetable stock into the pot and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and simmer until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper and chopped parsley.
- Eat as is or top with grated Parmesan.