Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta Fagioli soup is an Italian classic! Enjoy this vegetarian version that is thick and stew-like and each bite is full of hearty pasta and beans.
One of my favorite Italian soups is the classic pasta e fagioli – which in English means pasta and beans.
Each spoonful of this soup consists of pasta noodles, beans, and the few vegetables involved are chopped very small and used as accents to the pasta. The consistency is thick and hearty and each step in the cooking process is intentionally placed to develop the most flavor!
Traditional recipes usually consist of pancetta (unsmoked Italian bacon) for a salty base, but I decided I wanted to keep this recipe vegetarian-friendly.
So instead, I used a parmesan rind to simmer with the beans and tomatoes. The rind actually doesn’t melt in the soup, but becomes soft and releases so much umami flavor into the beans. It is absolute perfection!
To me, this is the ultimate winter soup because it is so hearty and cozy.
You’ll need only a handful of simple pantry ingredients and several fresh vegetables to make this soup happen. Here’s everything you need: diced tomatoes, cannelli beans, vegetable broth, small pasta shells, carrots, celery rib, yellow onion, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, fresh oregano, fresh basil, parmesan rind, and parmesan cheese.
How to Make Pasta e Fagioli – Step by Step
- First, sauté onions, celery, and carrots in oil for 5-7 minutes.
- Then add aromatics – garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme sprigs, and fresh oregano. Stir for 30 seconds with veggies.
- Then add white beans, canned diced tomatoes, and parmesan rind. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir throughout simmer time.
- After beans and tomatoes have simmered and reduced, add broth, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Let simmer an additional 10-15 minutes.
- Then add the cooked pasta noodles, fresh basil, and season to taste with salt if needed. Remove the thyme sprigs and parmesan rind before serving.
Tips For Success & Recipe FAQs
What is the difference between pasta fagioli and minestrone? Minestrone soup is loaded with a variety of different vegetables, beans, and is usually accompanied by pasta noodles. Pasta fagioli takes a more simplified approach by focussing solely on pasta and beans. Only a few vegetables are involved in this soup, and they are cut very small and used as accents to the soup, so the noodle and beans remain the focus.
Keep vegetable cuts small: the whole point to a pasta fagioli soup is you want the pasta and beans to be the star. Keep the vegetable cuts very small and remember they are “accents” to the soup – not the focal point.
What is a parmesan rind? When you buy a fresh block of parmesan cheese, typically it will come with a rind – which is the outer casing of the cheese. It is usually hard in texture and not edible, but it is excellent for infusing flavor into soups, stews, broths, and tomato sauces!
Freeze your cheese rinds: I always cut off my parmesan rinds, store them in a freezer-friendly ziplock bag, and freeze them. That way they are ready to go whenever I need them for flavor!
Cook the pasta separately: Some pasta fagioli recipes make it easy by calling for the pasta to cook with the soup. I personally don’t want the starches from the pasta to interfere with the texture of the soup so I recommend cooking the noodles separately.
Types of pasta noodles you can use: I used small pasta shells for this recipe. You can also use ditalini, macaroni, rotini, or orecchiette.
Make it gluten-free: I used chickpea noodles in this recipe and they worked great! You can also use brown rice, lentil flour pasta, or your favorite gluten-free pasta brand.
How to Freeze & Store Leftovers
Tips for freezing: allow soup to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container or freezer-friendly bag and freeze up to 1-2 months. Let thaw at room temperature and heat up in a pot when ready to serve.
Keep leftovers fresh: allow soup to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container and refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.
This soup is basically like a warm hug when winter comes. It’s also incredibly filling and satisfying – even while being meatless.
I hope you and your family love this Italian classic just as much as mine does!
More Hearty Vegetarian Soups
- Italian Minestrone Soup
- Tuscan White Bean Soup
- 30-Minute Leek and Potato Soup
- Southwest Sweet Potato Chili
If you tried this Vegetarian Pasta E Fagioli recipe or any other recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK for more crave-worthy content.
Pasta fagioli soup is an Italian classic! Enjoy this vegetarian version that is thick and stew-like and each bite is full of hearty pasta and beans
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 celery rib
- 2 small to medium carrots
- 2 cups dried small pasta shells (see notes)
- 2 15 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- parmesan cheese rind (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon (each) salt & black pepper (plus more to taste)
Prepare vegetables: dice onion into small pieces. Remove stems from the celery and carrots, and dice into 1/4-inch pieces. Mince garlic.
Sauté vegetables: In a large pot on low to medium heat, sauté diced onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil with pinch of salt. Cook for 5-7 minutes until soft, stir often.
Add aromatics: when vegetables are soft, add minced garlic, chopped oregano, thyme sprigs, and red pepper flakes. Sauté with vegetables for 30 seconds. Note: rather than add these when the soup simmers, sautéing the herbs and spices for a short period of time will draw an even deeper level of flavor from the aromatic ingredients.
Simmer beans & tomatoes: then add diced tomatoes with juices, cannellini beans, and parmesan cheese rind to vegetables. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often. Note: This part infuses the beans with flavor before adding the broth.
Add the broth for a final simmer: Add the broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes until it has reduced and thickened.
Cook the pasta: while tomatoes and beans cook, bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until "al dente", then strain water from noodles. Note: some recipes call for the pasta to cook with the soup, I personally don't want the starches from the pasta to interfere with the texture of the soup so I cook them separate.
Add pasta and fresh basil: add your cooked pasta shells to the soup with 1/4 cup fresh basil. Remove parmesan cheese rind and thyme sprigs before serving. Taste soup and adjust flavor with pinch of salt or more red pepper flakes until the balance of flavor is just right. Serve with fresh parmesan cheese and enjoy!