This Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli is thick and hearty Italian pasta and bean soup with tender veggies. This classic stew is super easy to make with pantry staples in about 40 minutes!
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This delicious homemade vegetarian pasta fagioli is another soul warming soup recipe our entire family loves! It makes a large batch we eat for days.
I consider myself a soup snob. Growing up in the Ukraine, my grandma made soup from scratch and with lots of love every-single-day.
She shared the love of the process with me and I do have high standards when it comes to a bowl of soup. So, you better believe when I say that each spoonful of this best pasta e fagioli soup is full of pasta, beans, and savory vegetable taste. And it’s so good!
Pasta fagioli, or Pasta Fazool, or Pasta e Fagioli, simply means “pasta and beans”. It originated in Italy as a ‘peasants dish’ as it was meant to use any ingredients you had on hand.
There are many variations and even pronunciations of vegetarian pasta fagioli soup! Pasta fazool or pasta e fazule are two other Americanized names you may hear it called.
Some may like it thinner with more broth and some prefer thicker soup like a stew. Others add ground beef, although this version is meatless. You can even skip adding tomatoes for a ‘white’ version.
So, here is my take on this traditional Italian soup. I am not claiming it is authentic but it is easy, healthy and absolutely delicious!
Ingredients and Notes
Canned beans make this pasta and beans soup easy enough for a weeknight meatless meal. Other pasta fagioli ingredients consist of a handful of pantry staples plus some fresh vegetables.
- Small pasta: Traditional pasta choice is ditalini pasta. Other types of pasta that work are little shells or elbow macaroni. Whole wheat pasta, white pasta, or any gluten free pasta (cook for shorter time) work.
- Beans: Traditional pasta e fagioli is made with white beans like cannellini beans, navy beans or Great Northern beans. You could add Instant Pot red kidney beans for a pop of color.
- Vegetable broth: I recommend buying low sodium vegetable stock or here is a tutorial how to make vegetable broth. Low sodium chicken broth or beef broth work as well. Try bouillon cubes diluted with boiled water and you have stock instantly.
- Diced tomatoes: They add texture. You can also use whole tomatoes (broken with a spoon) or fire roasted tomatoes for even more taste. Plain tomato sauce or Italian-seasoned tomato sauce can be used if you are out of diced tomatoes!
- Tomato paste: Makes this a flavorful vegetarian soup with rich taste.
- Onion and garlic: Saute in oil first without other veggies sweating them. Then add carrots and celery.
- Carrots and celery: Dice carrots and celery finely. I love to include leafy part of celery into soup recipes.
- Seasonings: I use my homemade Italian seasoning substitute. You could also use a combination of dried oregano, dried basil, or rosemary. Dried bay leaves are added during simmering process and enhance the taste of this hearty Italian soup. And of course, salt and black pepper.
- Garnishes: Fresh herbs like fresh parsley or fresh basil, and grated parmesan cheese. A sprinkle of red pepper flakes, if you like a little heat!
How to Make Pasta Fagioli Soup
Here are 4 easy steps to make this this vegetarian pasta e fagioli recipe.
- Saute onion and garlic first: In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, saute your diced onion and minced garlic just until translucent. If you add all veggies at once, onion and garlic will steam.
- Add celery, carrots and Italian seasoning: Saute a few more minutes. When you heat up dried herbs, their natural oils come out and add extra flavor to this pasta dish than if you were just to dump them to the pot.
- Add canned tomato products, broth and beans and cook for 15 minutes. Do not add pasta yet.
- Add pasta: Stir, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve with optional fresh chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese.
This easy recipe is without meat. However, you can saute ground beef or Italian sausage into small pieces before adding veggies.
Tips for Best Results
This easy vegetarian pasta fagioli soup is a family favorite! Here are a few tips so you love it as much as we do.
- Cook pasta separately: If you want to enjoy soup past day 2 or are sensitive to the texture of mushy pasta, cook and store it separately and then add to each bowl before reheating.
- Rich flavor: Add Parmesan rind to soup while it simmers or add more olive oil and butter at the end.
- Type of pasta: Any small shaped pasta can be used like shells, macaroni, or even orzo.
- Types of beans: Canned beans are another timesaver in this recipe. If you are using dried beans, I recommend to cook ahead of time.
Can I Make This In the Crockpot or Instant Pot?
While I have not personally tested either method for this vegetarian pasta fagioli, it can be done. You just have to be careful not to overcook pasta or cook it separately.
For the slow cooker, first saute your onions and garlic, then carrots and celery. Add all remaining ingredients, except pasta, and cook on low for 4-6 hours. During the last hour, add raw pasta and cook an hour longer. Alternately, cook pasta separately.
For Instant Pot version, first Saute your onions and garlic, then carrots and celery. Hit Cancel and add remaining ingredients with any tomato products added last to prevent Burn.
Cook time will be 4 minutes on high pressure. Then natural release for a few minutes to avoid splatter, then turn valve to venting to release remaining pressure. Cook pasta until al dente separately and then add to the pressure cooker with soup.
This really is a one pot meal but including a loaf of warm, crusty bread like this no knead artisan bread for sopping up any soup juices is so good.
How to Store and Freeze Leftovers
Store: Refrigerate soup for up to 5 days. However, pasta soaks up liquid with each day unless you have cooked it separately.
Freeze: Pasta doesn’t freeze well. I recommend to cook the soup without pasta, freeze and then add cooked pasta when ready to consume. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw on a counter during the day or in the fridge overnight and then reheat.
If you are planning to store the soup past a few days or freeze soup, do not add pasta to the same pot.
Reheat: Reheat desired amount of soup in small pot by simmering on low heat. Cover and stir a few times in between to test for desired warmth. You could reheat frozen soup by simmering it on low and covered – just takes longer.
Yes. To make vegan pasta fagioli, be sure to use vegetable broth and skip the Parmesan cheese garnish.
Cannellini beans are popular as they are creamy and light. Navy beans, white kidney beans, red kidney beans or even garbanzo beans can be used.
While both soups have beans, pasta and vegetables, minestrone has many more vegetables! For example, I use green beans, zucchini, potato and fresh greens in mine.
When we make pasta fagioli vegetarian, the focus is mainly on the pasta and beans with vegetables being an accent. That is why we cut them very small in this soup!
Yes. For busy weeks chop your vegetables up to 24 hours ahead of time, store in the fridge until needed. Easy!
More Healthy Vegetarian Soups
- Mushroom bean soup
- Instant Pot minestrone soup
- Vegetable soup recipe
- Instant Pot vegetarian chili
- Vegetarian borscht recipe
You may also love to browse these healthy soups!
Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli
- 1 large onion diced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 3 large carrots diced
- 4 large celery stalks diced
- 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning or a mix of dried oregano, basil, rosemary etc.
- 2 x 14 oz cans low sodium cannellini beans rinsed & drained
- 14 oz diced tomatoes or tomato sauce low sodium
- 6 oz can tomato paste low sodium
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup ditalini pasta dry
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley finely chopped
- Parmesan cheese grated, for garnish
- Preheat large pot or Dutch oven on medium heat and swirl oil. Add onion and garlic; saute for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, celery, Italian seasoning and saute for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add beans, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vegetable broth, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and cook on low for 15 minutes.
- Add pasta, stir, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- And parsley and serve warm garnished with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Store: Refrigerate for up to 2 days. If you want soup to last longer, cook pasta separately and add before reheating. Reheat by simmering on low in small pot only amount you are planning to consume.
- Freeze: Cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight. You could reheat from frozen too, just will take longer.
- Beans: Other white beans like cannellini, navy or Great Northern beans work.
- Pasta: Use any small pasta like elbows, shells etc.
- Ground meat: You can add ground beef or Italian sausage, or pancetta by cooking and breaking it into pieces first.
- Other variations: You can also make soup with water and add Parmesan rind to it and/or more olive oil and butter at the end.