Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagiloi

NOTE- this is a very old post of mine with a very unhelpful recipe attached to it. It is on my list to be updated and tested. This is the version of the soup that my grandmother made me growing up as a second generation Italian American living in Massachusetts, not an authentic Italian recipe.

Pasta Fagioli is my favorite soup. By far. When I get it at restaurants, it is much different than the version I grew up with, and when I see Mario and Giada make it on TV, it is definitely different from either of those. So what gives? Well after doing some research, I realized that this soup started as a meal of leftovers. Whatever you had that was about to go bad, throw in the soup. Pasta Fagioli really just means pasta and beans, so if it has those two things, I think you are on the right track. Here is my take on my grandmothers version. She gave the recipe to my mother a few years ago after years and years of hiding it, and we were all surprised it was so easy. I changed a few things to protect the family secrets…errrr I mean because I like it this way! I know first week of September is still pretty hot for most people, but that chill is seeping into the air. If you make this on the first chilly or rainy day, you will be extremely satisfied!

This is what I call super rustic chop

you remember how to make meatballs right? Well if you have some you made earlier in the freezer, this meal is that much easier! We didn’t, but were able to make some really quick.

We fried them instead of the usual broil to save time and effort.

Pepperoni makes this soup delicious!

Peppers and onions in the pot with olive oil and pepperoni. Pepperoni really adds a lot to the flavor of this soup! Also salt and pepper and some red pepper flakes.

Fast forward! I added equal parts chicken stock and canned tomatoes that I crushed in my fingers. Then added the meatballs, parmesan, the parm rind, oregano, 2 bay leaves, and more pepper and crushed red pepper. I would have written this into the picture, but I thought it was pretty and didn’t want to ruin it. Yes I said pretty.

Of course this is my favorite soup. There is sausage, meatballs, and pepperoni. Cook the sausage, cut it, and put it in the soup.

Add the beans toward the end, after you have simmered this for half hour to an hour, or more if you like. We used the traditional cannellini beans, and chickpeas cause we like them.


Cook the pasta separately, and put it in the bottom of the bowl. This is one of the few times when I cook pasta and don’t put it with the sauce to cook for the last minute or two. This is because normally I want the 2 separate entities to become one as Mario says, but in this case I want the pasta to be separate and stand out from the soup. It is important to use little ring pastas. I like ditalini, but this is all they had at the store. It’s pretty close.

Dump the goodness right on there.

YES! This has real big chunks and is almost stewy (stewp if you are a Rachael fan.)

Click for Meatballs recipe. (*NOTE this is an older recipe that I didn’t really transcribe perfectly with correct amounts, but part of the fun of this soup is making it your own!  Feel free to experiment and taste as you go.  Trust me with these ingredients in one big pot, it cant be bad.)

Pasta Fagioli


  • crushed tomatoes
  • chicken stock (equal parts with the tomato)
  • diced onion
  • diced pepperoni
  • meatballs
  • sausage
  • lots of parmesan cheese
  • oregano, italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes
  • small pink beans
  • ditalini pasta


  • Cook the onions and pepperoni in some oil, add the stock and tomatoes, then add everything else except the pasta. Simmer for an hour. Cook the pasta separately and put it in a bowl. Ladle the soup on top.


  1. Mmmm this looks fantastic. I’ve never had this soup with tomatoes added to it, maybe they do it differently in Sicily (where my dad’s from). I might try adding tomatoes next time when i make this and maybe throw in some peas 🙂

  2. this looks very good. Is there a text version of this recipe with portions?
    how much peppers?
    how much onions?
    how do you make meatballs ad hoc?
    how much pepperoni?
    I realize you’re an improvisionaire genius and you probably turn your nose up at people who use measuring devices but I really need a little more guidance here.

  3. This is not “pasta e fagioli”. Really, it’s something else, maybe it taste good, but it is not “pasta e fagioli”.
    This is pasta e fagioli, there is no meat in it :
    or this
    the only meat is a 100g of pig-skin, the rid, just to give the flavour.
    an italian.

  4. –>cinzia
    Your little emoticon does nothing to cover your attempted smugness and air of italian superiority. Maybe start at the top again, where the author clearly states that they have done some research……. You are an ass. Go away.

  5. Eric, the problem is in the name, non in the taste of this “pasta&fagioli” maybe it taste very good. This is not pasta&fagioli, stop no question about it :D, no matter how much he has done research. It’s like the thing you american call pizza 😀 or cannelloni o bolognese…but I’m sure your brain will not understand, I’ll try to explain it to my dog.

  6. i’m a chef and while this recipe looks good, i think the meatballs should be smaller, it’s important that everything in a soup or stew can sit in your spoon comfortably, in order to get in your mouth comfortably… so smaller meatballs=better~! just a hint!

  7. “I’m a chef the meatballs should be smaller”
    “I’m Italian the name is wrong”
    “How much peppers and onions and blah blah blah blah blah….”
    All I know is that looks damn tasty right now and I wish he could freeze a gallon of it and send it to me here in Canada.
    Come on people excuses excuses.

  8. “Dude” –
    Like I said, I don’t really use a specific recipe for this soup. It’s meant to be a soup to use up leftovers and adjusted to your particular taste. If you follow the general method above, you will end up with something good. But for you I will try to tool out a some measurements!
    1 large onion
    1 large bell pepper
    1/4 lb pepperoni
    2 or 3 cloves garlic
    2 28oz cans of plum tomatoes.
    an equal amount of chicken stock as tomatoes.
    tablespoon oregano
    teaspoon pepper flakes
    2 bay leaves
    1/4 cup Parmesan fresh grated and the rind if you have it
    2 cans beans
    2 or more sausages
    10 meatballs
    I already wrote out the method below the post and above the comments. So hopefully now with the measurements you can give it a go. The meatball recipe was linked in the middle of this post. that link goes to a longer meatball sandwich post, but there is a more direct meatball recipe here. the bad news is, that one doesn’t have any measurements either!
    Trust me, I am not an “improvisionaire genius” as you say, all you need to do is taste it as you go!!!

  9. I had Pasta e Fagioli just the other day and it was HORRIBLE, I easily could have never eaten it again. But after seeing this!! Ommggg, I want it soo bad!
    Who cares if most recipies don’t call for meat, whaatever! Being a true “foodie” or “chef” is about adding/bringing your own flare to something.
    This sounds fantastic. I’m totally drooling. Haha.

  10. Ok you guys… this is really rather sad , all this “it isnt real” ” it should not have meat, it SHOULD have smaller pieces”
    Did you know that most cooking comes regionally – even cooking from an authentic Italian Nonna’s kitchen?!?
    What that means is that dishes can have the SAME NAME and different flavors, spices, cooking styles and INGREDIENTS based on what region or area you are from. Ingredients in different regions are more or less plentiful and the good cooks would base their variations on what was plentiful or in season.
    Just look at something as simple as chicken soup or a chocolate chip cookie. while these are not “italian” they are supposedly the same thing across the country (here) but the variations on the theme are basically endless.
    My nonna would always change a recipe around – and it was every bit as AUTHENTICALLY ITALIAN as this…. geeze louise people. (well, except for a couple…they were well guarded secrets…. heheh)
    Give the bearded one a break …if you want to tell the world about what “real” italian food it – GO WRITE YOUR OWN BLOG….then you write whatever you want to!!

  11. looks really good! was never a big fan of the typical pasta e fagioli i’ve encountered. This changes everything. cant wait to make it.

  12. I LOVE Pasta Fagioli! The first and ONLY version I have ever had was “Olive Garden’s”, and it is soooo delicious!! (I live in PA). And by the way, it has beef & tomatoes in it. I got the cloned recipe from the “Top Secret Recipe” cookbook that came out years ago, and have been duplicating it since. The recipe in the book tastes exactly like the one at the famous Italian restaurant chain. I am VERY anxious to try this version made by the Bearded Guy, it looks fantastic! Also going to try his Buffalo Chicken and Lasagna Soups! 🙂 And I love how he uses fresh parsley and basil! There are “no rules” in the kitchen, and the only “Food Police” that I’ve run into is my mother-in-law, LOL! Also I suggest using whatever size meatballs your heart desires. 🙂 Thanks to Beardie!
    Hey how about a good recipe for Stuffed Cabbage rolls…?

  13. I have to agree with the above poster that this isn’t pasta e fagioli. It is certainly the case that one would find variations of the basic pasta fagioli formula among regions and individual cooks. However, making a radical deviation from the original to something laden with polpetti and that pepperoni (pepperoni is as italian as bologna) goes too far. The reason we have names for dishes is because the name gives us expectation of the food we receive.
    I could riff on cassoulet, adding peppers and smoked ham hocks, and the results would be pretty tasty, but not cassoulet. Even though cassoulet was originally a means to use left-overs, it now has a certain formulation. The simple solution, respect your new creation and give it a new name.

  14. My Mom first gave us the recipe for Pasta Fagioli a few years ago. Previously she would just deliver the pot of soup (still in the pot with pasta on the side so it wouldn’t absorb all the broth). My Grandparents came here from Italy as teenagers that’s where my Mom’s recipe came from. This recipe is very close to my Mom’s. It is one of the easiest recipes, in fact we thought my Mom was hiding something when she gave it to us. The difference in this recipe and my Mom’s is the peppers and the chopped tomatoes, my Mom’s does not have peppers and she uses sauce not tomatoes. (My Dad ,also 1st generation American, does not eat tomatoes except as tomato sauce, that could be the reason for the variation). I think there are many variations on this recipe. I never order it out, it never tastes or looks right, but it’s still called Pasta Fagioli

  15. My parents were from Sicily and had Pasta Fagioli as a meatless meal with no tomatoes…but i am anxious to try this recipe!!! Just looks tooo delicious not to try!!! i use ditalini pasta when i make it..

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