Pasta Fagioli Soup is an Italian classic meaning "pasta and beans", hearty, filling and so delicious! The perfect winter meal full of rich flavors, lots of veggies and beef in a silky tomato broth. This one-pot dinner is prepped in just 20 minutes!
Why We Love This Soup!
- Perfect Winter Comfort Food! - This Pasta Fagioli Soup, or as it's often misspelled "Pasta Fazul" recipe is one of our favorites when winter in Minnesota pretty much calls for soup every week! I love that it’s just so "full of stuff.” It's a complete, balanced meal all in one cozy and comforting bowl. Hearty and filling, it’s the perfect combination of veggies, protein and pasta.
- Fast and Easy and all in One Pot! - Soup for dinner really is a wonderful meal, and Pasta Fagioli is one of the easiest soups to make! Pasta e Fagioli means "Pasta and Beans" in Italian, and it's full of pantry and refrigerator staples, so I often have everything I need already on hand. It makes a huge pot, easily serving a family of 4 to 6 with leftovers for lunch. You can make it anytime during the afternoon and let it simmer until dinner. It’s all in one pot, allowing you to clean up the kitchen while it cooks and sits ready for you when everyone gets hungry. As Dean Martin said, “That’s amore!”
- Amazing Flavor! - This is a seriously delicious pot of soup! With the Italian flavors and tiny pasta, I often consider it to be a relative of spaghetti and therefore pretty kid-friendly! I do, however, sometimes find a few chunks of tomato and celery left in their little bowls. Still a win!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Ground Beef or Italian Sausage - I have made this soup with either ground beef or bulk ground Italian Sausage, and both are delicious! You can use more or less than 1 pound, depending on how meaty you like it. Italian sausage gives you a bit more zing and seasoning!
- Onion, Celery, Carrots, Garlic - The veggies provide the base layer of flavor and also a great dose of nutrition, one of the reasons this soup is so hearty and satisfying!
- Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasoning - The simplest of seasonings, these are all you need to amplify all the hearty ingredients in this soup!
- Beans - A classic combination of white and red beans! You can use what you have, navy, great northern, canellini, kidney or any red beans. Just use 1 can red and 1 can white, drained and rinsed!
- Canned Tomato - I used whole peeled tomatoes and just chopped them on a cutting board. Diced tomatoes would also be fine or even a can of crushed tomato, although I like to have some tomato chunks in my soup. Add in all the juice from the can as well, it combines with the stock to give you that rich velvety tomato broth.
- Chicken Stock - Store-bought or homemade chicken stock, beef stock or veggie stock are fine in this recipe.
- Ditalini Pasta - I used 1 and ½ cups of ditalini pasta for this recipe, but you could also sub small pasta shells or orzo if you can't find ditalini. If you are trying to eat low carb, you could easily lower the amount of pasta to 1 cup or even ½ cup. This would still give the soup its signature pasta and bean combination, just be lighter on the pasta. You could, of course, leave the pasta out, but you would have quite a different pot of soup.
Step 1 - Chop your veggies, drain and rinse your beans, and have all other ingredients ready.
Step 2 - Start by browning the beef. As it's about half way cooked, move it to one side of the pot and add the veggies to saute on the other side. The vegetables will cook in the beef drippings so there is no need to add oil.
When it is fully browned and your veggies have softened, they can be mixed together and seasoned with the garlic, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
If you want to drain some of the fat from the beef, you can during this step. I usually don't, unless it's a lot!
Step 3 - Then add everything else, beans, tomato, stock and pasta. Let it simmer, covered for 30 to 40 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through.
That’s it! In that time, the pasta cooks, and the juice from the tomato combines with the stock to form that delicious silky red broth, and all the flavors marry together.
Enjoy with fresh parsley, shredded Parmesan cheese and crusty bread!
- Storage - Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Make Ahead Instructions - A big pot of soup is a great make ahead meal prep for the week! Just store it in airtight containers, preferably glass, and reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. You could also make it ahead but skip simmering it, store it in the fridge in the soup pot, and then simmer the whole thing for 30 minutes to finish cooking on the night you want to eat it.
- Wait to Add the Pasta - If you plan to let the soup simmer on the stove longer than 30 minutes, wait to add the pasta. All the other ingredients would be fine to simmer on low but the pasta will overcook if it sits too long. You can also boil the pasta in a separate pot and add it just as you are going to serve it to ensure you won't overcook it.
- Slow Cooker Instructions - You can make Pasta Fagioli Soup in a slow cooker. Brown your beef and veggies on the stovetop and then add that along with all other ingredients except the pasta. Cook on LOW for 4 to 8 hours. In the final hour, add the pasta and cook on HIGH until the pasta is ready. You could also boil the pasta separately and add it just before serving.
- Stretching the Recipe - You can double the recipe if serving a large crowd! If you just want to stretch it slightly without doubling, add an extra can of beans, an extra small can of tomato and more water or stock to reach the right consistency.
Yes! Pasta Fagioli Soup starts with a healthy base of meat and lots of vegetables. It is full of fiber from the beans and a very balanced meal all in one. If you want to make it even healthier, make it a soup and salad night with an Italian Mixed Greens Salad!
Yes! You can leave out the meat and just saute your veggies in a bit of olive oil, and use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. The veggies and beans make this a very hearty soup, so keeping it vegetarian is a great option. Without the meat it is also vegan, as long as you don't top it with Parmesan cheese.
Yes, absolutely! I always grow carrots and celery, perfect for starting almost any soup. When fall comes and a big pot of soup is in order, you can use 5 or 6 tomatoes from your garden instead of the canned tomatoes for this recipe. Just chop them or pulse them in a food processor. You could also add shredded zucchini or chopped green beans if you want to up the veggies!
Yes, Pasta Fagioli Soup can be frozen, but consider the pasta. Cool your containers overnight in the fridge first, then freeze for up to 6 months. Pasta can be frozen, but it isn't the greatest after freezing. If you plan to freeze a lot of this soup, you may want to leave the pasta out and add cooked pasta when reheating. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Sometimes I've had trouble finding ditalini pasta for Pasta Fagioli Soup, but it is made by Barilla and can often be found in any regular grocery store. A fancier Italian brand should have it too! If you can't find it, you can substitute small shells, macaroni, orzo or any small pasta shape you like.
More Favorite Comfort Foods!
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Pasta Fagioli Soup
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- ½ to 1 pound ground beef (or bulk Italian Sausage)
- 1 small onion chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 ribs celery chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 carrots shredded (about 2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 grinds fresh black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 15oz can white beans such as Great Northern drained and rinsed
- 1 15oz can kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes chopped with juices
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups water
- 1½ cups ditalini pasta
- chopped parsley for garnish optional
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, brown the beef. As it is browning, move it to one side of the pot and saute the onion, celery and carrot in the other side using the fat from the beef. About 15 minutes, season with salt and pepper.
- When the beef is fully browned and the veggies are softening, add garlic and Italian Seasoning.
- Add all other ingredients, cover, lower heat to medium low. Simmer 30 to 40 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.
- Garnish with parsley and serve with Parmesan cheese. As the soup sits, you may need to add another cup of water if it becomes too thick.
- Drain the fat from the beef in Step 1 if you like, or just leave it!
- Use any canned tomato such as whole peeled (chopped on a cutting board or in a food processor), diced, crushed, or 4 or 5 fresh garden tomatoes chopped or pureed.
- If you can't find ditalini pasta, you can substitute small shells, macaroni, orzo, or another small pasta.
- Freezer Instructions - Cool your containers overnight in the fridge first, then freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating. If you are planning to freeze a lot of the soup, you can choose to leave the pasta out and add cooked pasta when reheating.
- Wait to add the pasta if you plan to let the soup simmer on the stove longer than 30 minutes or if you want to make this in a slow cooker. All the other ingredients would be fine to simmer on low, but the pasta will overcook if it sits too long. You can also boil the pasta separately and add it just before serving.