pasta e fagioli

Living in southern New Mexico, I’m out of touch with all of the weather systems the rest of the country gets. The weather here is always the same – sunny, dry, cold at night and warm in the afternoon (hot at night and hotter in the afternoon in the summer), windy in the spring. So even though I know most of you are burned out on cold and snow, I’m very excited right now that we’ve gotten a taste of real winter here.

And, even better, a snow day. A snow day! Not that it takes much snow to get a snow day here, but that’s even better – a snow day with no shoveling to do!

The first time I made this soup was years ago, and it was just as cold that day. I remember that Dave and I went to a political rally in Ithaca, and afterward, we were talking while I made the soup, and I got distracted and added the pepper flakes twice. Sadly, that ruined the soup. It was almost inedibly spicy; so much for the careful balance of flavors I was hoping for.

The soup is a whole lot better when you make it correctly. Just a bit spicy, all mixed in with tomatoes and vegetables and beans. A warm hearty bowl of soup is the perfect way to cap off a snow day.

One year ago: Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese
Two years ago: Tofu Croutons
Three years ago: Deviled Eggs with Tuna

Printer Friendly Recipe
Pasta e Fagioli (from Cooks Illustrated)

I added 2 cups less water than the recipe calls for. I’m sure the original recipe is fine too; I was just in the mood for something thicker. If you do this, make sure you decrease the salt to ½ teaspoon.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 ounces pancetta or bacon, chopped fine
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 anchovy fillets, minced to paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with liquid
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 inches by 2 inches
2 (15½-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3½ cups homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
2½ cups water
8 ounces small pasta
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
ground black pepper
2 ounces (1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, about 2 minutes. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and anchovies; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of the pan. Add the cheese rind and beans; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer to blend the flavors, 10 minutes.

2. Add chicken the broth, water and 1 teaspoon salt; increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (refer to package instructions to better estimate pasta cooking time).

3. Discard the cheese rind. Off the heat, stir in 3 tablespoons of the parsley; adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into individual bowls; drizzle each serving with olive oil and sprinkle with a portion of the remaining parsley. Serve immediately, passing the grated parmesan separately.


  1. This sounds and looks delicious. It might even tempt my bean-hating hubby. 🙂

  2. I love that you use the parmesan rind in this delicious looking soup. My husband thinks I’m crazy for doing that.

  3. This is my favorite soup at the Olive Garden (on the rare occasion we go there). I’m so excited to try it out at home. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Yum. Your blog is wonderful and I really love your photos!

  5. It’s hilarious to watch the news in the SF Bay Area… they always talk about the crazy weather all over the country, and then the weather person chimes in with a cheery “but we don’t have to worry about any of that here! Once again it will be partly cloudy and 65” …. always.

  6. Stephanie says:

    I made this last night and it was AMAZING! I used all the liquid called for in the recipe but I think 8oz of pasta is a bit too much. It made the soup too thick and it was more of a pasta dish in the end than a soup. I served this with cornbread muffins and the muffins soaked with a bit of the soup were amazing. I think when I make this soup again I will cut back to one can of beans and use a can of Italian or fire roated diced tomatoes instead of regular diced. The beans were a little overpowering and don’t suit my personal prefrences. Overall and excellent recipe and very hearty. Paired with bread or muffins this makes a nice meal. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Wasn’t the weather just crazy last week?! I hope you guys weren’t part of the gas shortages! This soup looks great — one of my favorite dishes.

  8. I’m buying the ingredients today! I want to make this for lunches for work this week- it looks amazing.

  9. It was so yummy. Thanks for sharing the recipe!!