Healthy Pasta Fagioli Recipe (Italian Pasta and Beans)

By Alexandra Caspero on February 13, 2022
The recipe that my grandmother taught my mom and that she taught me.
Serves 4

A healthy pasta fagioli recipe that’s been passed down for generations. My family’s simple recipe for white beans & ditalini pasta in red sauce, the ultimate comfort food! 

My family’s Pasta Fagioli recipe! The classic Italian peasant dish of pasta and beans in red sauce. Yes, this is my kinda’ comfort food and one I’ve been eating since I was a kid. Which, really should come as no surprise.

It’s pasta and beans after all, two staples in my diet, and the foods I reach for night after night when I’m looking for something quick and satisfying.

This is the recipe that my grandmother taught to my mother and the one that she in turn taught to me. Pasta e Fagioli reminds me of home, of boisterous family dinners and my momma. 

Here’s how to make it.

pasta fagioli recipe

Ingredients for Pasta Fagioli 

  • Olive oil, for sautéing the onion and garlic 
  • 1/2 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed hot pepper (or more for extra kick)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can plain tomato sauce
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans northern white beans
  • 1/2 lb. Ditalini pasta

bowl of pasta fagioli

Substitutions

If you can’t find ditalini pasta, then any small pasta shape like elbow macaroni, tiny shell pasta or stars will work. 

Any small creamy white bean will work, I don’t recommend subbing in black beans or red kidney beans in this soup as it will alter the flavor too much.

Can you add in additional vegetables? 

This is my family’s recipe and I’ve kept it traditional. However, if you want to add in more veggies then you can sauté celery or carrots with the onion and add in finely chopped spinach or kale when you add the parsley.

Beans and Pasta in Red Sauce

Instructions for How to make this Pasta e Fagioli Recipe

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped onion along with a pinch of salt and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another minute or so, stirring constantly and taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, parsley and beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. 

While the sauce is cooking, cook the ditalini pasta in lightly salted water. Make sure to salt the pasta water as you’ll add this to the finished beans and the cooked pasta water is what gives this soup so much flavor. I typically add a scant tablespoon to a large pot of water, knowing that I will not sure all of the water. 

Once the pasta is al dente, drain and reserve 2-3 cups pasta water. When ready to serve, add pasta to the tomato and bean sauce and thin with pasta water. You will probably not use all 2 cups. Add 1/2 cup at a time, stir, and add more if need be. It should thin the tomato sauce out so it is thin like a soup broth. This pasta fagioli will thicken considerably as it sits, and I recommend adding a little more water as needed to thin. 

I usually serve this with a little parmesan cheese on top, dairy-free parm works as well!

vegetarian pasta fagioli

How to store leftovers

This taste even better the next day. To store leftovers, place in an airtight contain for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. You’ll likely need to add a little more water as you reheat it. 

To freeze, place in an airtight contain with enough headspace for expansion and place in the freezer for 3-4 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and warm in a saucepan or in the microwave.

vegetarian pasta fagioli recipe

Whether you are looking for comfort or just a giant bowl of goodness, this soup is for you. I know there are several varieties of this soup, including the one made famous by Olive Garden, but this is how my grandma made it, how my mom made it, and therefore, how I make it. 

Generations of women can’t be wrong, right? It’s classically a vegetarian soup, and you’ll get plenty of protein from the weight beans– no bacon, ground beef or sausage required. Enjoy the dish how it was meant to be, a marriage of the inexpensive ingredients pasta and beans. 

And, if you’re wondering how to pronounce it. Pasta Fagioli is pasta fazool, emphasis on fa and then zool. My kiddos call it pasta fa-who!

Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli Recipe with Parsley

More Healthy Soup Recipes

Vegan Instant Pot Lentil Soup 
Tuscan Kale Soup 
Vegan Lemon Chickpea Orzo Soup
Slow Cooker Tomato Soup
Vegetable Soup made in the Slow Cooker 
Red Lentil Soup

If you try this pasta fagioli recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

Print
bowl of pasta fagioli

Pasta Fagioli

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4- 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

A healthy vegetarian pasta fagioli recipe, the ultimate comfort food! A giant soup bowl filled with hearty white beans & ditalini pasta in a creamy red sauce.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4- 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4- 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 12 tablespoons of olive oil, for sautéing the onion and garlic
  • 1/2 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more for extra kick)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can plain tomato sauce
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans northern white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lb. Ditalini pasta

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the chopped onion along with a pinch of salt and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another minute or so, stirring constantly and taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, parsley and beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. While the sauce is cooking, cook the ditalini pasta in lightly salted water. Make sure to salt the pasta water as you’ll add this to the finished beans and the cooked pasta water is what gives this soup so much flavor. I typically add a scant tablespoon to a large pot of water, knowing that I will not sure all of the water.
  4. Once the pasta is al dente, drain and reserve 2-3 cups pasta water. When ready to serve, add pasta to the tomato and bean sauce and thin with pasta water. You will probably not use all 2 cups. Add 1/2 cup at a time, stir, and add more if need be. It should thin the tomato sauce out so it is thin like a soup broth.

Notes

I usually serve this with a little parmesan cheese on top, dairy-free parm works as well!

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Claudia
      March 10, 2022 AT 5:11 am

      So if you are not making a sauce and using a sauce from a can , you are just heating the already made sauce?

      1. Alex
        March 11, 2022 AT 8:18 am

        Hi Claudia, yes I recommend canned sauce for this– canned tomato sauce, not jarred pasta sauce.

    2. Jane
      November 17, 2021 AT 11:03 pm

      This looks absolutely delicious!!! I plan on making this soon, but I did have one question. The recipe says 1 large can of tomato sauce, what would that be in oz? I’m not sure if 15 oz would be enough but I didn’t know if 28 oz was too much so I just wanted to double check!

      1. Alex
        November 18, 2021 AT 9:37 am

        Hi Jane. It’s the 28 ounce can; I’ll update it!

    3. Marjory @ Dinner-Mom
      September 27, 2014 AT 10:01 am

      Love the makeover…a favorite at our house!

    4. Deanna Segrave-Daly (@tspbasil)
      September 26, 2014 AT 1:43 pm

      Love LOVE me some pasta fagioli – I make it all winter long and was just thinking the other day, I need to do a post on it. Love the addition of spinach 🙂

      1. DK
        September 26, 2014 AT 3:00 pm

        Me too! I think it’s every Italian girls favorite winter meal 🙂

    5. Deborah @ Confessions of a Mother Runner
      September 26, 2014 AT 1:05 pm

      so simple but good. Any excuse to eat pasta 🙂

    6. Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl
      September 26, 2014 AT 10:41 am

      I am excited to try this! It is like an adult version of Spaghettios!! 😉

      1. DK
        September 26, 2014 AT 3:01 pm

        Ha! I love that! I am totally going to use that from now on!

    7. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine
      September 26, 2014 AT 7:57 am

      So yummy! And comforting 😉
      Fagioli used to be one of my favorites, but I haven’t had it in so long!

      1. DK
        September 26, 2014 AT 3:02 pm

        Mine too! This is my favorite version although I haven’t had it any other way!