How to Make Authentic Italian Pasta e Fagioli with a Tomato Broth?

Italian cuisine is renowned worldwide for its wide array of flavors, ranging from the richness of its olive oils to the tanginess of its vine-ripened tomatoes. One such culinary masterpiece that perfectly captures the essence of Italian gastronomy is Pasta e Fagioli. This dish, a delightful concoction of pasta and beans served in a savory tomato broth, is a staple in Italy and a favorite in kitchens around the globe.

In this guide, we’ll be guiding you on how to recreate this authentic Italian delicacy in your kitchen. Pasta e Fagioli is a dish of simplicity yet robust in flavor, demonstrating the genius that is the Italian way of cooking.

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Gathering Your Ingredients

To start with, you’ll need to gather all the necessary ingredients. This might seem like a basic step, but remember, quality is key in Italian cooking. The fresher your ingredients, the more authentic and delicious your Pasta e Fagioli will turn out.

You’ll need:

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  • Olive oil: A staple in Italian cuisine, the richness of olive oil adds depth to the dish.
  • Pancetta or bacon: This adds a smoky flavor to the broth. Although not strictly traditional, it’s a common addition in many recipes.
  • Onion, celery, carrot, and garlic: These form the base of the dish, providing a profound flavor.
  • Cannellini beans: These white Italian beans are creamy and mild, making them the perfect choice for Pasta e Fagioli.
  • Ditalini pasta: This small, tube-shaped pasta is traditionally used, but other small pasta can be substituted.
  • Canned tomatoes: For the tomato broth. Fresh tomatoes can also be used when they’re in season.
  • Chicken or vegetable stock: This forms the basis of the broth, and you can choose based on your preference.
  • Bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary: These herbs boost the flavors, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
  • Salt and pepper: To taste.

Preparing the Aromatic Base

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to start cooking. Begin by preparing your aromatic base, also known as the soffritto in Italian cuisine. This will form the backbone of your Pasta e Fagioli, infusing the entire dish with rich, deep flavors.

Heat olive oil in a pot, and add your pancetta or bacon. Cook until it’s crispy and has released its fat. Next, add in your chopped onion, celery, carrot, and minced garlic. Sauté these until they’re soft and fragrant – this combination of flavors is what gives your Pasta e Fagioli its distinctive taste.

Simmering the Broth

After your aromatic base is ready, it’s time to start preparing the tomato broth. The broth is what brings the whole dish together – it’s the flavorful liquid in which the pasta and beans will simmer and absorb all the flavors.

Add the canned tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary to the pot. Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer. This allows for the flavors to meld together and the broth to acquire a rich, deep taste.

Adding the Pasta and Beans

As your broth simmers, you can start to add your pasta and beans. These are the two key ingredients in Pasta e Fagioli – after all, the dish’s name literally translates to "pasta and beans" in English.

Add your ditalini pasta and cannellini beans to the pot. Allow these to cook until the pasta is al dente – that is, cooked so it’s still firm when bitten. This is how pasta is traditionally served in Italy, and it gives your Pasta e Fagioli a delightful texture.

Serving Your Pasta e Fagioli

Lastly, it’s time to serve your Pasta e Fagioli. Italian cooking is not just about the taste, but also about the visual appeal of the dish. Ladle your Pasta e Fagioli into bowls, making sure to get a good mix of pasta, beans, and broth in each serving. You can optionally top it with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, to enhance its flavors.

Remember, the key to a great Pasta e Fagioli is patience – allow the ingredients to cook slowly and the flavors to blend well. This is not a dish to be rushed, but one to be savored – from the cooking process to the final tasting. So roll up your sleeves, get your ingredients ready, and journey into the heart of Italian cuisine with this authentic Pasta e Fagioli recipe.

Enjoy the process of creating this flavorful dish as it’s not just about the end result, but also about the love and care that goes into preparing it. Good luck, and happy cooking!

Perfecting the Flavors

Rounding off the flavors of your pasta e fagioli involves a couple of key steps. First, you have to season your soup with salt and pepper. Remember, seasoning is critical in Italian cooking as it helps to bring out the flavors of the other ingredients. Start with a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of black pepper, then adjust according to your palate.

Next, consider adding a little kick to your pasta fagioli soup by incorporating some red pepper flakes. Although not traditional, red pepper flakes can enhance the flavor profile of the dish by adding a hint of spice. Start with a quarter teaspoon and adjust based on your preference for heat.

Once your pasta and beans are cooked to perfection, remove the pot from the heat. At this point, you should discard the bay leaves, as they have done their job of infusing the broth with a deep, herbal flavor. You can also add a few tablespoons of fresh, chopped parsley, which will add a burst of color and a fresh, herbaceous note to your pasta fagioli.

Let your soup rest for a few minutes before serving. This short pause allows the soup to cool slightly and the flavors to meld further.

The Art of Serving Italian Soup

When it comes to serving your pasta fagioli, presentation is key. Italian cuisine places great emphasis on the look of the dish as well as its taste. Pour your soup into large, shallow bowls, ensuring each one gets a generous amount of pasta, beans, and flavorful tomato broth.

A sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese is the perfect topping for this hearty Italian soup. The cheese adds a wonderful, nutty flavor that beautifully complements the rich broth. For an extra touch of authenticity, consider a drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil right before serving. This not only adds a luxurious finish but also enhances the soup’s overall flavor.

Accompanying your pasta fagioli with a slice of crusty Italian bread is also a great idea. This allows you to mop up any leftover broth, ensuring nothing goes to waste.


This guide has shown you how to prepare an authentic Italian Pasta e Fagioli soup. By following these steps carefully, and taking the time to source fresh, high-quality ingredients, you can recreate the flavors of Italy in your own kitchen.

Remember, the heart of Italian cooking lies in letting the ingredients shine. Whether it’s the rich olive oil, the smoky pancetta, the creamy cannellini beans, or the ripe tomatoes, each ingredient in pasta e fagioli plays its part in creating a dish that is as comforting as it is delicious.

This pasta fagioli recipe does not only give you a hearty soup but also a taste of the Italian way of life — slow, savored, and steeped in tradition. So, next time you crave a bowl of comfort, remember pasta e fagioli. Buon appetito!

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