Pasta e fa*gioli Recipe (2024)

By Martha Rose Shulman

Pasta e fa*gioli Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour 20 minutes, including 30 minutes unsupervised simmering
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This is a classic Italian bean and pasta soup. If you have already made a pot of beans using a pound of beans, and want to use it for this soup, just use half the beans but all of the broth as directed in Step 1.

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Yield:8 servings

  • 1recipe Simmered Pintos using only ½ pound (about 1⅛ cups) beans
  • 1tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1medium or large onion, chopped
  • teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2large garlic cloves, minced
  • 128-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1small dried red pepper, or ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, 1 or 2 Parmesan rinds, and a few sprigs of thyme and parsley
  • 6ounces elbow macaroni or small shells (1 cup)
  • 2 to 3tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (½ cup), optional

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings)

144 calories; 5 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 2 grams monounsaturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 17 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams sugars; 8 grams protein; 352 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Pasta e fa*gioli Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Make the simmered beans as directed, changing only the amount of beans (use 2 quarts water). Remove onion and bay leaf, using tongs or a slotted spoon, as directed. Place a strainer over a bowl and drain beans. Measure broth and top up with enough water to make 6 cups.

  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large, heavy casserole or Dutch oven and add chopped onion. Cook, stirring, until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary and garlic and stir together for another minute, until garlic is fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, add sugar, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until tomatoes have cooked down and the mixture is very fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes.

  3. Step


    Add broth from the beans, tomato paste, hot pepper, bouquet garni, and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in beans and heat through. Taste and adjust salt.

  4. Step


    10 to 15 minutes before serving, stir in pasta. When it is cooked al dente, taste and adjust seasonings, stir in parsley, and serve, passing Parmesan in a bowl.


  • Advance preparation: You can make the dish up through Step 3 a day or two ahead. Refrigerate, then bring back to a simmer, stirring often, before continuing.



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Cooking Notes


A true classic Italian comfort food, of which there are probably as many recipes as there are Italian cooks. However, this one is just a big bowl of wrong. 1) WRONG BEANS! Pinto beans?! How awful! Borlotti beans. If you can't find them by name, look for cranberry beans. 2) Too much tomato! The tomato paste is enough, leave out the canned tomatoes. 3) NO SUGAR! What a crazy idea! 4) Add celery and carrots to the onions for a good soffritto. (to be continued...)


Hi, I am Italian, and the bean soup is served without parmigiano (or any kind of cheese). Also, is usually without tomatoes, or maybe a couple of fresh tomatoes or just a little spoon of tomato paste. But it is never so red and never cooked with sugar! Ditalini is the most common pasta for this recipe.


If not to be consumed in one seating, I usually put as much as needed in a separate saucepan and add the pasta. If the pasta is added all at once, the leftover soup will resemble wallpaper paste.

Jerry Griswold

Instead of elbow pasta, use Ditalini.


I keep Parmesan cheese rinds in the freezer and add them to dishes like this while they're cooking. Then fish them out. Makes a real difference = a very flavourful soup (or chicken cacciatore too!)


It would be so much less work to use canned beans, but I have no idea how much volume of beans this recipe produces; how much cooked beans does 1-1/8 cups uncooked beans produce?


I used Rancho Gordo Cramberry beans in this, cooked in the pressure cooker with onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaf and little salt. This produced an intensely flavorful broth that was awesome in the soup. I also added diced celery and carrot to the soup, cooked down in some rendered bacon fat. I will definitely make this again.


This is a delicious recipe! I can use borlotti since they are available here, but they aren’t widely available and pinto works great too. Ditalini is not available here, and little elbows work just fine.My Nona taught me to cook - she seemed to believe that every recipe can be modified depending on what you’ve got. I’ve made this many times, and it’s always a hit!


Use borlotti (cranberry beans) -- Goya sells them as Roman beans -- or cannellini in a pinch; celery is almost mandatory, forget the tomato paste and sugar, and ditalini is the proper pasta shape (smaller and more manageable than elbows).


i found this recipe to be slightly too tomato-y. use full amount of specified bean broth - this is a bean soup not tomato.


I would add 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves during the cooking of the beans, leave out the tomato paste, and maybe purée a bit of the beans for creaminess. Also cook the pasta in salted water for half the time it needs before draining it to remove the starchiness and adding it to the soup and finishing it's cooking. Buon appetito!


Very good comforting soup - especially with the home cooked pinto beans. The fresh Rosemary makes all the difference - tasted like what we had in Rome. Makes a lot of soup so make sure you have the whole family for dinner!


I made this w/o the tomato paste (I didn't have any) and it was delicious! I smashed some bean to make the broth a little thicker...since I didn't add the paste.

Martha Rose Shulman

Sorry, will be corrected. Add sugar with tomatoes, salt, and pepper in Step 2.

Steve C

Why tag this as vegan and vegetarian when it includes 2oz of Parmesan + Parmesan rinds? Parmesan isn't even vegetarian (by definition) never mind vegan.


A total win. I made recipe as described except used an immersion blender at end to puree the tomatoes. Used stock made from BBQ ribs + some bean broth. No leftovers to freeze. My 14 year old came and asked me if would make this again!

Grant and Juliana

We only added half of the rosemary… it is pretty rosemary-forward otherwise. But if rosemary-y broth is your jam, go ahead!!!


Very good. Used 4 cans pinto, added can of cannelini, could still have more beans, with last added near end for texture. Wants prosciutto crispies. Try from dried beans next time.


A great soup for family meals on chilly nights! I leave out the sugar and the tomato paste and use ample amounts of rosemary from the garden. Simmering Parmesan rinds while the broth cooks takes it to the next level. Like many others have noted, ditalini pasta works best but elbows certainly don't ruin the recipe. I find pinto beans work very well in this but have also used borlotti/cranberry beans with success. If I have celery and/or carrots, I will chop and add with the onions.


Loved this! Added 1 pound ground beef


I love this recipe as a jumping off point. I used canned canellini beans and chicken broth because I didn't have 2.5 hours to prep beans, (who does?!?) and that is what I had. I also added rainbow chard to up the healthy and hearty factor. It may not be authentic, but it's delicious.

c. p. davidson

Needs more beans then the recipe calls for in my opinion! But loved it!


add turkey1 qt chicken broth1 qt chicken stock2 bay leavescarrots and celery (a single bunch of both, sometimes double the carrots)italian seasoning (added to cooking turkey)thyme

Cooking 4 4

Made a few changes based on availability in my pantry. Used canned great northern beans and simmered them in their liquid along with onion and garlic powders, salt, pepper and bay leaves to improve flavor instead of pinto beans. Substituted umami paste for tomato paste. Parmesan rind is key to flavor though- would not make this without.


Always use a carrot when making an Italian tomato sauce, cuts the acid in tomatoes, NO sugar. Add a couple cups of baby spinach at end. Always add Parmesan rind to flavor. Use pancetta to sauté onion, garlic and carrot. Use 2 cans of small white beans in soup and then immersion blender quickly to thicken soup, before adding vegetables and pasta. Add chicken or veg broth to thicken or thin for preference.


This has become a new Sunday favorite. I am sure it comes out better with the simmered beans, but I just don't have that kind of time. (Nor am I that great at planning dinner that far in advance!) I use canned cannelli beans and I add chard, or whatever green looks good, to up the veg content. Delicious, satisfying, healthy, and great to have in the fridge all week.


Pasta fa*gioli my way. Roast tomatoes with garlic and herbs. Burr to make a sauce. Cook garlic and onion. Add side pork or pancetta and cook, or cook up and remove then cook onions. Add broth, (some bean juice would be nice) Parmesan cheese end if you have it, cooked greens if you want, tomato sauce, rosemary and simmer about 15 minutes. Meanwhile cook Ditalini pasta al dente. Add cooked beans, bring to temperature. Ladle drained pasta into bowl, then broth. Grated cheese on top.

Sharon Knettell

I have to agree, pintos don’t work. But this is a great easy recipe with a lovely rosemary vibe. Dump the pintos and use cannellini beans.

Sharon Knettell

Loved it. I miss Martha Shulman. I made it as is. I would make it again with cannellini beans as I thought the rosemary fought with the pinto beans. Easy delicious recipe.


NO pinto beans, NO sugar, way too much tomatoes.Good quality tomatoes do not need sugar.Use a white bean, Cannellini beans a good choice. Can beans are a good alternative,Use half can of tomatoes, or the whole can but no paste.Add more water if you like it soupy as we do.

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Pasta e fa*gioli Recipe (2024)
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