Pasta e Fagioli – Pasta and Beans

It’s not over! Winter I mean. Nope, not yet… the weather is much better these days though. It is so weird how after a couple of weeks of temperatures double digits below zero (around zero Fahrenheit, and sometimes below zero) when the termometer hits zero (32 F) you feel it’s warm. I wanted to take off my hat the other day, and one of my friends told me she felt like hitting the beach :D

Even so, as I said, it is not over, it will be a while before I can actually take off my hat without my ears aching. So today I made my favorite soup: pasta e fagioli, that is “pasta and beans” for those of you who don’t chew Italian, and “Nudeln und Bohnen” in German, I have to learn food names I can’t rely forever on pictures on packaging :P

pasta e fagioli

This is a traditional Italian soup, it is supposed to be made with Borlotti beans, but I couldn’t find them, I used white beans (and I am crossing my fingers about the result!). In the US I would use pinto beans.

The original recipe calls for ditalini pasta but I couldn’t find that either so I used the small egg pasta used for broth, it is nice because it only takes few minutes to be ready. I also like this soup a lot with pappardelle (egg pasta that looks like fettuccine but thicker), you just have to crush the pappardelle in pieces before cooking them as usual.

I have eaten this soup all my life and the smell coming from the kitchen is making me smile. Can’t wait for it to be ready!


  • 200 gr dry borlotti beans (or white beans or pinto beans)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 potatoes
  • water and salt as needed


The day before making the soup you need to hidrate the dry beans. Toss them in a bowl, cover with abundant water and let stand for 12 hours.

vegetables for pasta e fagioli

After 12 hours the beans are ready, drain them and transfer to a pot.

Peel and cut in big chunks all the vegetables and add them to the pot (picture 1).

Cover with water, don’t use too much, the vegetables don’t need to be immersed in water, see picture 2.

Add some kosher salt, start with 1/2 spoon you can adjust it later.

Cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat and cook for 40 to 50 minutes. The time is given by how long it takes the beans to cook, check the packaging, it will state the time clearly. No need to stir, just set a timer and forget about it.

mash the vegetables

When the timer you set goes off turn off the heat and proceed to transform this soup into what makes it my favorite soup: the creamy consistency! With a skimmer remove some of the beans from the rest of the soup and set them aside (picture 3). I love when I am eating my bowl of soup and my teeth crunch whole bean :) a small pleasure in life. Now with a hand blender or an old style vegetable mill, proceed to mash the vegetables. When there are no more chunks of vegetables add the whole beans back to the soup (picture 4).

You could enjoy your soup right away but it wouldn’t be a real pasta e fagioli, you are still missing the pasta!

Check the consistency of the soup and if needed add some water, you should also taste it now and make sure the amount of salt is just right. Bring to a boil, add the pasta to the pot, and cook as directed on the package. Use less pasta than what you would use for a regular pasta dish.

Portion your soup on plates, sprinkle with some olive oil and add some shredded parmesan cheese.

Enjoy! I just did ;) The experiment of the white beans was a success but it is worth to scout Berlin for borlotti beans because they are oh so good, and oh so perfect for pasta e fagioli!

pasta e fagioli

8 Responses to Pasta e Fagioli – Pasta and Beans

  1. Oh this one seems so good, I have to try to prepare it asap :)

    • It is healthy and tasty! Try to find the borlotti beans, they make a big difference :)

      • Well, I’ve just eaten the soup, it was a real pleasure :) A very delicate and tasty dish. I had to do only one modification, instead of stalk celery I used celery root. I had to use white beans too. This is another italian soup we enjoy here very much :) The first one is minestrone – Raffaele taught me this when we were in Pensacola. Thanks for another great recipe, Erika, keep up the good work :). By the way, when the soups are main topic – have you tried one of the traditional Polish soups: żurek (spelled shurek, “sh” sound is spelled very hard, aka stone soup, made of fermented flour)? Maybe you had opportunity in Warsaw, if not, we’ll serve you this one when you visit us in Kraków :).

        • Thanks for reading, and giving some feedback!!
          I can’t make a good minestrone, I am picky with vegetables though so that is probably why, but I’d be happy to check out Raffaele’s recipe if you email it to me :)
          Mmm the only soup I had in Prague was a creamy milky mushroom soup. Zurek seems different (if google shows the truth). I must try it in Krakow!

  2. The soup looks yummy!! I love żurek, I want to learn how to make it. hmm.. I should know that stuff :)
    Two days ago, I went for a walk and tried to wear my hat too but it’s to soon!! My ears were burning after a few minutes!!! :)

    • Hahaha, yeap, you should know how to make zurek ;)

  3. FINALLY, getting time to relax, and I’m loving getting all caught up on your blog!!! I am going to try this one; it’s seems easy enough that even I might not mess it up! Plus, it’s vegetarian, and you know I’m trying :-) We do have white beans here, I think similar to what is used in Tuscan white bean soup (cannellini or Great Northern). Do you suggest using those or pinto?

    • Mmm I used to make it with pinto beans in the US but I think it tastes better with white beans :)

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