If you’ve had the pasta e fagioli soup at The Olive Garden, this is NOT that. This traditional pasta e fagioli recipe (commonly referred to as pasta fazool) was passed down from a native Italian. Made with cannellini beans, pancetta, pasta, and rosemary, it’s comfort food at its finest, and truly my family’s favorite meal.
There are only a handful of dinners that my whole family gets really excited about. I’m not talking about a lackluster “Mmm” or a halfhearted “Yay,” but rather a jumping up and down, arms thrown around my waist, screaming “You’re the best mom (wife) EVER!” sort of excited.
This is one of those dinners.
If you’ve had pasta e fagioli at the Olive Garden, you’ll find that this recipe is nothing like that imposter (Sorry, Olive Garden lovers). This pasta e fagioli is not tomato-based, nor does it contain carrots, celery or ground beef. And I don’t mean to country-drop, but I have had pasta e fagioli in Italy and it was pretty close to mine, although I still think mine is better (Sorry, Italy).
This pasta e fagioli has a combination of small pasta shells, cannellini beans, pancetta and rosemary, which gives it an earthy, smoky flavor that’s to die for. And it MUST be served with crusty bread, so that you can soak up every last drop of the thick, delicious broth.
What makes this recipe a little different than others I’ve read is that the bulk of the ingredients are pureed, which gives it an amazingly creamy texture (despite having zero cream). So it tastes really decadent, even though it’s not.
When I first started making pasta e fagioli, I based it on a recipe I found online from someone’s Italian grandfather. It ended up tasting great, but the recipe was a little over-complicated in my opinion. Over the years I’ve pared it down to the essentials and learned to make pasta e fagioli as simply as possible without sacrificing any of the flavor.
My printable recipe is below, but before you check that out, here are a few tips:
- Tip #1: If you own an immersion or stick-style blender, you can save yourself some time and dishes by blending the soup right in the pot instead of in a blender. (Here’s an affiliate link to the immersion blender I use, in case you’re interested.)
- Tip #2: If you find that the soup is getting too thick as the pasta cooks, feel free to add a little more broth or water. It’s supposed to be thick, but you want it to still be soupy.
- Tip #3: If you can’t find small shells, you can substitute ditalini or another small pasta.
- Tip #4: In case you missed it the first time, you must, MUST serve this with crusty bread. I’m not messing around about this. A glass of red wine is also highly recommended. 🙂
Authentic Pasta e Fagioli
This traditional recipe for Pasta e Fagioli (pasta fazool) is simple comfort food at its finest (and nutritious to boot).
- 3 15 oz cans cannellini beans
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 oz pancetta or approx 4 slices bacon diced
- 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
- 3 cups beef broth
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 3/4 cups small pasta shells uncooked
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- crushed red pepper flakes optional
- parmesan cheese optional
- Drain ONE can of beans, and set aside.
- In a large soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and pancetta and saute until onions are golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and saute about 4 additional minutes.
- Transfer sauteed ingredients to a blender or food processor and add the two other cans of beans (liquid included). Puree until smooth.
- Add the pureed mixture back into the pot, along with the drained beans, the chicken and beef broth, salt, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Once the pasta is cooked, remove from heat.
- Taste, and add more salt if necessary.
- Serve, topped with red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese, if you like.
If you're watching your salt, start with 1 tsp salt and work up from there.
You may find that the soup gets a little too thick as the pasta cooks. If so, just add some more broth or water to thin it out.
If you make this soup, please come back and tell me what you think. Hopefully your family will love it as much as mine does.