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Pasta with White Beans (Pasta e Fagioli) recipe

Pasta with White Beans (Pasta e Fagioli) recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup
  • Bean and lentil soup
  • Bean soup

There are so many recipes for this traditional Italian mainstay, usually served as a meal. Here's another that is slightly different.

58 people made this

IngredientsServes: 8

  • 400g (14 oz) dried haricot or cannellini beans
  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 2.25L (4 pints) water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (400g) tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chillies
  • 225ml (8 fl oz) water
  • 1/2 (500g) pack macaroni
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • handful chopped fresh parsley

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:2hr ›Ready in:2hr20min

  1. Place beans, ham bone and water into a large saucepan or casserole. Bring to the boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the beans are tender, from 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  2. Once beans are nearly ready, heat olive oil in a casserole over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic, cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, celery, carrot, chillies and water; bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the carrot has softened, about 10 minutes. Add macaroni.
  3. While the tomato mixture simmers, remove the ham bone from the beans. Separate the meat from the bone; dice the meat, and discard the bone.
  4. To finish the soup, stir the beans and diced ham into the tomato mixture; add additional water if needed to make a chunky soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper; simmer until the macaroni and beans are both quite tender, from 5 to 15 minutes. Stir in chopped parsley before serving.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(54)

Reviews in English (38)


Something else.I know I already reviewed this recipe once, but I made it again this weekend. I sauteed the onions and then put the rest of the ingredients with a ham bone in the slow cooker. I used two tins of cannellini beans. I added macaroni already cooked just before I served. Sprinkled with parmesan cheese and served with garlic rolls. good dinner-24 Jul 2008


This is a lot different from the pasta e fagioli's that I had growing up, but it was really great anyway.-24 Jul 2008

by AnnaG

I just threw everything in the slow cooker except the pasta. I added it about 45 minutes before serving. The recipe itself has fairly simple taste to it. But that is usually how Pasta Fagioli is. I increased the garlic and added a little bit of fresh sage to mine. And of course salt and pepper. The main reason I used this recipe is because I was looking for something to do with the ham bone.-24 Jul 2008

Pasta e Fagioli—the Easiest of Italian Recipes

The well-known Pasta e Fagioli, or pasta and beans, is an Italian treasure. Every family has their own recipe: with or without garlic, with oil instead of bacon or lard, with or without Parmigiano.

You can make your own version very easily. In Italy, pasta e fagioli immediately reminds us of our grandmas. Its full aromatic taste means family, tradition, and home sweet home.

This is my recipe for pasta e fagioli. The base is a genuine mix of sautéed vegetables: carrots, celery, and onion. I first add beans and then the pasta. A little tomato paste makes it appetizing and smooth bay leaves and your favorite herbs make a unique flavor profile. Healthy and balanced, pasta e fagioli is a traditional peasant dish that works well in winter. You need to choose the right ingredients, which call for slow cooking.

A little advice about the ingredients

Beans: In Italy, borlotti (cranberry) beans best suit this dish. In the US, look for cannellini (white kidney) or pinto beans. Red kidney beans, which make the dish richer in color, work as well. According to the kind of beans you buy—frozen, fresh, or dried—the method and the cooking time will vary.

  • Sautéed vegetables: They reduce the natural sweetness of the dish. Needed are an onion, a carrot, some celery, and a clove of garlic, which you will remove while cooking (so leave it whole).
  • Tomato paste or tomato sauce: Tomato paste makes for a stronger taste tomato sauce is lighter. Mix the tomato sauce with a little tomato paste until you get your favorite result (read the recipe below) .
  • Extra virgin olive oil: I always use extra virgin olive oil, which is the most healthy.
  • Pasta: Any small ones work. I prefer ditaloni or elbow maccaroni. When I have small pasta of different shapes, which are not enough for a single serving on their own, I put everything together. Fresh pasta is also appropriate: Use the leftovers of the tagliatelle you have just made cut it into small pieces for your pasta e fagioli.
  • Fresh herbs: You should use different herbs, such as bay leaves while cooking, and rosemary, thyme, or marjoram before serving.

Some more suggestions for your pasta e fagioli

  • If you want to make this recipe completely vegetarian, only use extra virgin olive oil. On the other hand, if you want a more flavorful and rustic soup, use bacon or lard if you have any on hand.
  • You should have this dish for lunch, and combine it with a nice crisp salad. Finish off your meal with an orange you will absorb more iron from the dish.

What you should know about beans and their preparation

Beans, just like other pulses (beans, peas, lentils), must be cooked for a long time. They need to be soaked and rehydrated for about 6 to 8 hours, so it’s a good idea to soak them the night before you cook them. If you have an instapot or a pressure cooker, you can cook them instead the same day.

  • Soaking beans makes it easier to cook and digest them. The process also reduces the gas-producing compounds. You may use them after cooking or freeze them.
  • Slow-soaking beans: Soak the beans in cool water and discard those which float on the surface. Put the beans in a big bowl and cover them with enough water (3x the amount of beans) and set aside in the fridge or in a cold place overnight.
  • Fast-soaking beans: Choose the most intact beans and put them in a pot pour 1 liter of water for every 2 cups (200g) of dried beans and bring to a boil. Boil them briskly for a couple of minutes and then remove from the heat. Cover with a lid and set aside for 1-2 hours or until they get hydrated and bloated. Drain them and add them to your recipe.
  • In an Instapot or a pressure cooker: Follow the guidelines provided for each machine.
  • In the microwave oven: Arrange the beans on a tray big enough to contain them when they are hydrated: cover with cold water and cook on HIGH for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside for 1 hour.
  • In case of frozen beans, boil them in salted water for about 3-4 minutes.

No, they aren’t. They are legumes, which are a sub-group of the vegetable food group. They should not be substituted for vegetables in your daily food consumption. Can they replace meat? No, although they are quite rich in proteins, they also contain more carbs than you think and have a high glycemic index, meaning they raise the level of sugar in your blood during digestion. Thus, beans are definitely similar to pasta they should be eaten as moderately as you eat a dish of pasta. In Italy, beans are considered a main dish according to the criteria of the Mediterranean Diet, so have them for lunch side along with a serving of vegetables.

What Can I Add to Pasta?

Besides sauces, why not add your favorite beans? You can also add peas to dry pasta, but the classic, soupy “pasta e fagioli” is definitely the most famous in the US.

You may know this recipe by its American Italian nickname, “pasta fazool.” The word for “beans” which is “fagioli” (pronounced fah-jolly), has a different pronunciation in Italian dialects, and I’m sure this is how it transformed into “fazool.” Even Dean Martin sings about it in his most famous song, That’s Amore!

“When the stars make you drool, just like past’ e fazool, that’s amore!” -Jack Brooks, lyricist

This is a fabulously easy meal because it only contains three ingredients. It’s ready in the time it takes to boil pasta. Bonus: it’s also vegetarian, and vegan, for anyone on those diets. (I’ve been asked, so I’m adding a link here for the Parmigiano Bowl in the photos however, I paid under $10 for mine at a shop.)

I never measure any of the ingredients when I make pasta and beans, so please don’t focus on the importance of the measurements. More or less of any of the ingredients won’t make a huge difference. In fact you may like it more or less soupy (adjust how much water you leave in the pot), or saucy, or with extra beans. You should be able to cook this without measuring anything after making it a couple of times–it’s that simple.

Keep this meatless pasta sauce in the fridge or freezer for quick, last minute pasta meals.

I have seen so many American versions of this dish which cook the pasta in the sauce. They also add tons of other ingredients and make it so complicated. Just know that these are NOT authentic Italian ways of making pasta and beans. If you see a laundry list of ingredients in any “Italian recipe”, run.

NOTE: you can also make a “dry” version, by draining all the water, and adding the beans and sauce. However, 8 ounces of dry pasta won’t feed four, you’ll have to add at least 4 more ounces of pasta (3/4 of a 1lb box).

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth or Swanson® Certified Organic Chicken Broth or Swanson® Natural Goodness® Chicken Broth
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ¾ cup short tube-shaped ditalini pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can white kidney beans (cannellini), undrained

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Cook the celery, carrots, onion and garlic until they're tender.

Stir the broth, Italian seasoning and tomatoes in the skillet. Heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.

Add the pasta and beans and cook for 5 minutes.

Place half of the broth mixture into a blender or food processor. Cover and blend until smooth. Pour the pureed mixture into the skillet. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is hot.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

Talk about comfort food! Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans) hits the spot (for me, at least!).

There are endless variations. White kidney beans, red kidney beans, chick peas, butter beans, fava beans, for example. Ditalini, mezzi rigatoni, lumaconi, orecchiette, linguine, and more. Not to mention the possibilities of tomato sauce, anchovies, broccoli, rapini, and escarole. I could go on but you get the point. You could mix and match just those ingredients and come up with hundreds of different combinations.

Growing up, my mother made only one version that I recall. It featured butter beans, tomato sauce and ditalini. The amount of liquid was equivalent to pasta with a red sauce. My Aunt Margie, my mom’s sister, made hers with chick peas and ditalini, no tomato sauce, and it was definitely more of a soup. My guess is that my grandmother made both versions, and probably others, but my mom and my aunt each settled on one for their cooking repertory.

Then there’s a version that I learned from a work colleague, Louis Evangelista, more than thirty years ago. He learned it from his Sicilian grandfather. It features linguine, red kidney beans, escarole, red pepper, and an abundant amount of garlic.

Then there’s orecchiette with kidney beans, broccoli and anchovy.

But we’re not making any of these today. We’re doing a simple version with kidney beans and lumaconi. The others will make their appearance in the coming months.

Lumaconi is a wonderful pasta shape for pasta e fagioli. Lumaconi means snails. Look at the picture below and you’ll see the resemblance. What’s so cool about using lumaconi is that the beans naturally slip inside the cooked pasta for the perfect mouthful of beans and pasta!

If you use red kidney beans rather than white, the contrast between the bean and pasta will look startlingly like real snails. This might not be a good thing depending on your audience!

I strongly encourage you to start with dry beans rather than canned. Follow the recipe for Cannellini alla Toscana using either white or red kidney beans. For something as hands-off as putting a pot of beans in the oven you’ll be rewarded with enough beans for two, if not three, meals plus a taste profile that is infinitely superior to canned beans.

This last point was hammered home to me a few months ago. We were in Alamogordo with Pat and Becky, friends from Santa Fe. We spent the day at White Sands National Monument sledding down the dunes followed by lunch in Ruidoso before returning to our little house in Alamogordo (the house is another story for another day).

We didn’t feel like going out, not that there are many places to go out toin Alamogordo unless you count Chili’s, which, inexplicably, is my husband’s favorite restaurant in town. Besides, we made the requisite pilgrimage to Chili’s the night before.

So, a couple of cans of kidney beans later, I was making pasta e fagioli. It was good, no doubt. But it had been a very long time since I had used canned beans (even though there is an entire phalanx of canned beans in my pantry). I was actually startled by the difference in taste and texture, having grown so accustomed to using home-cooked beans.

However, by all means, if using canned beans is the difference between trying this dish, and not. Go for it! You might want to throw an extra bit of herbs in the pot at the beginning, like a bay leaf and some sage, but it’s not really essential.

Let me know what you think of the recipe. And for those of you who have your own favorite version of pasta e fagioli, let me know what it is.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazool/Pasta & Beans)

Pasta and beans was a staple in my childhood Jersey home. My mom made this soup often and we all loved it. A fan asked for the recipe.

Pasta and beans is a healthy and inexpensive peasant dish. You can have this one-pot meal that packs lots of flavor and goodness on your table in less than an hour. My version is from Campania and we call it pasta fazool in Neapolitan-American slang.

I fondly remember my last visit to Casserta Vecchia, a medieval village high in the hills overlooking the Bay of Naples. As we took in the view, the winds picked up. A dark storm was sweeping up from the bay.

We ducked into an ancient inn to have lunch as the blustery, fast-moving storm passed by. I was warmed by a bowl of pasta and beans in a terra cotta bowl, followed by grilled sausage, both cooked in a huge open hearth in the dining room with old stone walls and hand-hewn wooden beams overhead.

Pasta e fagioli is made all over Italia and varies from region to region. One big difference is that mine has no meat. Up north they usually add pancetta to the aromatics as the base of the soup. Some people like to add tomato puree. Some people don’t add tomato, they like a white pasta fazool.

Mine has a light pink hue. I use a little tomato puree. Make it any way you like it, just don’t make it the way they do at Olive Garden.

The creamy beans and pasta are bathed in a savory light broth enhanced by the sharpness of the pecorino and the mellow olive oil. Pasta fazool will warm you and fill you up all winter long.

  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 3 cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight or two 15 oz. cans
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/2 pound ditalini or another short-cut pasta
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • grated pecorino
  1. If you are using dried beans soak about 1 1/4 cups overnight or for at least 12 hours. They will expand and should yield about 3 cups of soaked beans for the soup.
  2. Roughly chop the onion, celery and garlic.
  3. Put the EVOO, onions and celery in a large enameled pot.
  4. Over medium heat, sauté the onions and celery until translucent, about 5 minutes. (You do not want them to pick up any color.)
  5. Add the garlic and bay leaf and sauté for another minute.
  6. Add the cannellini beans and mix well.
  7. Add the water and tomato puree to the pot. Stir well.
  8. Put the cover on the pan and simmer over medium-low heat stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and the soup thickens. (If you are using canned beans that should take about about 20-30 minutes. If you are using dried beans soaked over night that could take 60 minutes or so. You want the beans to be tender but not mushy.)
  9. Add salt and black pepper to taste.
  10. Add the pasta and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 8-10 minutes more.
  11. Shut off the heat and add the parsley. Mix well.
  12. Serve in bowls immediately with a sprinkle of pecorino and a drizzle of EVOO.
  13. Serves 6.

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12 thoughts on &ldquoPasta e Fagioli (Pasta Fazool/Pasta & Beans)&rdquo

Ciao Gianni, I have just finished a short essay about my grandmother’s pasta e fagioli. Hers was very similar to yours. In order to make sure all the Italian and English words were spelled correctly, I went a a website that translated the Neapolitan dialect. Legumes in Neapolitan is fasulo – hence the fazool spelling from the sound of what our families were saying. Fasulo makes sense because the Neapolitan dialect of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s dropped the vowel at the end of the word. Thank you so much for this recipe. Mangia!

Ciao Gianni,
This dish was a staple in our house that my mother would make often, she would also saute some bacon with it, sometimes she did a version with lentils, very delicious. La ringrazio molto per le vostre ricette.

I sometimes add some pancetta. My Mom used bacon too.

Piacere, my pleasure to share a Jersey family recipe.

Grazie, Gianni! This is about the most appetizing pasta fazool I’ve ever seen, honestly. And your story about the inn in Casserta Vecchia really sets the scene for the dish. I almost feel a sense of nostalgia for it even though I’ve never been there myself. (You could moonlight as a travel writer.) I’ll be making this dish tomorrow.

One thing, though. The beans portion on your ingredients list is a little unclear. Am I correct in assuming that you meant either 3 cups dry cannellini beans (soaked overnight) OR 2 15-oz cans? Also, if we opt for using canned beans, should we add them with their juice or should we drain and rinse them before adding them?

Thank you again so very much. I’m really looking forward to trying this. You made my weekend. Buon Natale and God bless!

Ciao Norm. Thanks for your comments and question about the beans. I was unclear in the recipe and because of several questions I’ve modified the recipe.

If you are using canned cannellini beans, rinse them and add to the pot. They will become tender after simmering about 20-30 minutes.

If you’re using dried beans, use about 1 1/4 cups of dried beans. Pick through them to make sure there are no pebbles. If any float to the top of the soaking water, discard them.

Soak the dried beans overnight or for at least 12 hours. They expand while soaking and should yield the 3 cups you need for the pasta fazool. Soaked beans will probably take the better part of an hour to become tender. Whichever beans you use you want them tender. not mushy. I hope this clear things up.

I don’t suppose you also have a great recipe for pignoles. You’ve hit on everything from my childhood so far save those.

Ciao Christy. Aren’t we lucky to have grown up with wonderful Italian food? What’s your pignoles food memory, a pasta sauce?

They were wonderful pine nut cookies at Christmas and weddings.

I love them. I’ll make some this week and share the recipe.

Thank you thank you thank you! I can’t wait! I want to surprise my mother with them. Our recipe was lost to the last generation. I should have paid more attention.

On behalf on the Internet, thank you for this recipe. Olive Garden? Gag me with a spoon! B-uona Natale from Chicago!

Ciao Joe. This pasta fazool is the real deal. I’m not sure what that is that they serve at Olive Garden. Buon Natale to you and your family.

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About Gianni

I grew up in a blue collar southern-Italian immigrant neighborhood in New Jersey, but now I live in North Beach in what’s left of San Francisco’s Italian-American neighborhood. Food is a huge part of my life.

My recipes today reflect the Italian-American classics of my youth, Italian originals from my family roots in Italy, and the wonderful cuisine I’ve eaten in my travels.

Shortcuts & Substitutions:

  • If you own an immersion blender, you can save time by blending the soup right in the pot instead of transferring it to a blender.
  • Pasta substitution: Typically I use small shells in my pasta e fagioli, but you can substitute ditalini, macroni, small oriechiette, or any other type of small noodle.
  • You can substitute bacon for pancetta in pasta e fagioli. And if you want to make a vegetarian version of the soup, omit the pancetta and add a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika instead (it mimics the smoky flavor).
  • Dried rosemary can be used in place of fresh rosemary. Use 1 tsp dried.

Pasta and white beans with garlic-rosemary oil

If you have a thing for chocolate, the world is your oyster. On this very site, 86 of the just over 800 recipes boast a significant chocolate component and entire sections of bookstores will be happy to fill in any cravings I missed. If you have a thing for bacon, the internet would be overjoyed to find you places to put it, zillions, even, although I’d proceed with caution before auditioning a couple. But if you have a thing for something slightly less of a prom king/queen ingredient, say, tiny white beans, well, it can be tough. It’s not there are no uses for them, it’s just that when you’re very much in love, there are never enough ways to be together. And if you’re me — someone who sometimes ups and makes a mega-pot of white beans just because you feel like it, presuming you’ll find things to do with them later — you sometimes end up scrambling, yanking down nearly every cookbook in your collection but still coming up bereft of uses outside the well-trodden soup-and-salad territory.

So tell me: What are you favorite uses for beans outside the ever-popular realm of chili, tacos, soup and salad? Really, I’m hankering for more inspiration. I ended up finding some — but never enough — in this month’s Bon Appetit, in a stack of pasta recipes you will find it impossible to choose among from Sara Jenkins of Porchetta and Porsena (and green bean salad, sigh) fame. I was so charmed by the short tubes of pasta with chickpeas, I made it almost immediately but maybe it was because I’ve overdone it on chickpeas this month, but I kept thinking it would be nice with something… daintier. And considering that it is an established fact (um, in Italy, where I suspect both my white bean and artichoke obsessions could roam free) that white beans, garlic, rosemary and olive oil are a combination sent from above, I had a hunch they’d be happy here too.

The result is a great pasta for this time of year, deeply comforting and hearty but not overly decadent. There’s no heavy cream or cheese, or dairy at all there’s no bacon (I’m sorry) or even a pinch of meat. And you won’t miss any of these things because, like a certain soup I have missed immensely since last week, it’s the finish that makes the dish — in this case, a sizzling oil with not just garlic but freshly minced rosemary too. If you finish that with a few pinches of sea salt, oh boy. You’ll see. It’ll make a convert out of you too.

Book Tour II: Just in case your missed the announcement a couple weeks ago, The Smitten Kitchen Book Tour marches on in February and March, with eight cities (hello, Atlanta/St.Louis/Minneapolis/Salt Lake/Denver/Raleigh/Montreal! plus an additional, awesome event in Brooklyn). I hope this means we finally get to meet.

Pasta and White Beans with Sizzling Garlic-Rosemary Oil
Adapted, barely, from Sara Jenkins via Bon Appetit

For the pasta, I used pennete, because I thought it nicely matched the little white beans (Rancho Gordo’s Alubia Blanca). Sara Jenkins called for ditalini to go with chickpeas. You can use whatever you’d like — short tubes, even elbows, and canned beans are just fine here.

I streamlined the recipe a bit to reduce the number of bowls and pots used, because I’m having the kind of week where if I see another dirty dish, I’ma run far away ahem, to make things easier.

This makes a lot of pasta, because you’re using a whole pound plus two cans of beans, so it’s a great recipe to consider halving if you wish to finish it before spring comes.

1 medium onion, cut into big chunks
1 medium carrot, in big chunks
1 celery stalk, in big chunks
6 garlic cloves, 4 left whole, 2 finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Coarse or kosh salt
2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 1/2 cups cooked, drained beans (save cooking liquid for water in recipe, if desired) or 2 15-ounce cans small white beans (such as Great Northern or Cannelini), rinsed
1 pound short tube pasta (see suggestions above)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

Pulse onion, carrot, celery, whole garlic cloves, parsley, and red pepper flakes (to taste) in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and add vegetable mixture to pot. (Quickly rinse, but no need to fully wash, food processor as you’ll use it again shortly.) Season generously with salt. Cook, stirring from time to time, until vegetables take on a bit of color, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste (original recipe calls for 2T but we enjoyed it with 3) and cook it into the vegetables for another minute. Add 1 cup water or bean cooking liquid and use it to scrape up any bits stuck to the pot. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add beans and 2 more cups of water (or bean cooking liquid) to the pot and simmer until the flavors meld, about another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente, or still a little firm inside. I know you didn’t ask for one, but can I insert an argument for al dente pasta here? The thing is, you don’t want your pasta to fully cook in the water. If you do, it won’t have any absorbency left to drink up and become with that delicious sauce. I have really found that finishing pasta in its sauce is the single thing that most swiftly improved the quality of my pasta dishes.

Reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water from your drained pasta.

Transfer one cup of the bean mixture to your rinsed food processor and purée it until smooth, then stir it back into the sauce to thicken it. Add drained pasta and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to bean sauce and cook the mixture together, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until the sauce coats the pasta, about 1 to 2 more minutes.

To serve: Heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a tiny saucepan over medium-low heat with garlic and rosemary, until sizzling stops. Divide pasta between serving bowls and drizzle garlic-rosemary oil over each. If you’re us, you’ll finish this with a few flakes of sea salt. Eat at once.

Recipe Summary

  • 3 pounds fava bean pods, shelled
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 thick slices of lean, meaty bacon, cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick half-moons
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • One 3-inch-long rosemary sprig
  • 1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1 cup tubetti or other small pasta
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the shelled fava beans and blanch until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and peel the favas.

In a large saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot, onion, garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stock, cover and simmer over low heat until the carrot is tender, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain.

Discard the rosemary sprig and season the soup with salt and pepper. Add the favas, pasta and mint leaves. Spoon the soup into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve, passing the cheese at the table.

Family History

There are few dishes more rustic in its spirit and sensibility than pasta e fagioli. A simplistic yet hardy dish, “pasta and beans” is the type of one-pot meal you can imagine generations of Italian-Americans and native Italians before them using to fill their bellies after a long day in the field. Pasta e fagioli is an economically sound soup, feeding lots of people with relatively inexpensive ingredients. But more than a mere cost-effective dinner, pasta e fagioli reveals a depth of flavor that’s deeply rooted in the very basics of Italian cuisine.

Pasta e fagioli starts with a classic soffritto of chopped onion, carrot, and celery, along with the requisite extra virgin olive oil. Then it’s made hearty with the staples of most Italian kitchens, including tomato sauce, beans, broth, parmigiano-reggiano, pasta, and sometimes meat bones for extra flavor. It can also be thrown together relatively quickly, so it’s perfect when you need a cheap meal that you can stretch over multiple days during the week.

Our version below does include chicken broth and some meat for flavor, but you can easily remove these from the ingredient list, should you prefer a fully vegetarian version. One other note before we get started: Authentic pasta e fagioli should be made with cranberry beans—also called Roman or Scotch beans. Brightly marbled in white and pink or deep red hues, cranberry beans have a subtle chestnut-like flavor—completely unique to all other beans. You can purchase cranberry beans fresh in the spring and summer, but the canned variety—the kind we use in our recipe—works just as well.