This Pasta e Fagioli Soup will make you wonder why you ever ate the stuff at Olive Garden. Done in under 45 minutes, but packed with more flavor!
Fast, Easy Pasta e Fagioli is the latest installment in my series on pantry raid recipes. In addition to a plethora of pantry staples—onion, garlic, dried pasta, canned kidney and garbanzo beans, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, fish sauce, stock, wine—this recipe also incorporates Italian sausage (freezer) and diced celery and carrots (refrigerator).
The inspiration for this soup is obviously Olive Garden. I used to live on the soup, salad, and breadsticks deal as a college student, and the Pasta e Fagioli soup was my favorite. I’d call this a copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli recipe, but that wouldn’t be accurate.
Sorry, OG, but this is better.
It begins with Italian sausage, which immediately amps up the flavor compared to the ground beef that (I suspect) is used for the OG version. I also incorporate some of my tried and true quick flavor-building hacks. Although my hacks aren’t authentic Italian cooking technique, the end result is pure, hearty deliciousness in short order.
How to make Pasta e Fagioli Soup
For the meat, I use a mix of sweet and hot Italian sausage. Yes, it’s two pounds of meat, but this makes a whole lot of soup, and I prefer mine on the more meaty side. However, you can absolutely get away with only one pound of meat.
This soup’s volume comes about because of the number of cans involved: I don’t want half cans of this and that in my fridge, waiting to be used up. Instead, I always make a gigantic batch and freeze any leftovers. With that being said, my family likes this soup so much that they eat it a few days in a row until it’s gone.
I use very similar flavoring strategies to build a wide variety of soups and sauces. Just before deglazing the pot with white wine, I raise the heat and mix in tomato paste and fish sauce. The tomato paste caramelizes, and the fish sauce reduces to infuse the soup with a salty, umami flavor in the background. It doesn’t actually taste like fish, I promise.
Pasta e Fagioli, step-by-step
(See the preparation collage below, or watch the video in the recipe card!) First, brown the sausage in a heavy-bottomed pot like a Dutch oven. When mostly browned, add in the carrots, celery, and onions. Saute until the onions are translucent, then add the garlic.
Next, move the meat mixture to one side and carefully tilt the pot toward the other, letting the fat pool. Use a ladle or large spoon to remove as much fat as practical. Discard. Then, stir the tomato paste and fish sauce into the meat mixture. Turn the heat to high, stirring constantly. Add the wine. Reduce for 2 minutes while stirring.
Add the diced tomatoes and their juice, the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, stock, salt and pepper, and herbs. Simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the soup.
I love to serve the soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of chopped flat-leaf parsley. Finish it off with a few grinds of black pepper. The soup is even better 1–2 days after you make it, so look forward to those leftovers!Sometimes I shave the Parmesan over the top using a vegetable peeler:
If you’d like more inspiration for making the most of your pantry staples, check out Easy Pantry Meals – Living Out of Your Pantry (and refrigerator and freezer).
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lb Italian sausage - (sweet, mild, hot, or a mix)
- 1 cup carrot - finely diced
- 1 cup celery - finely diced
- 2 cups onion - chopped
- 2 tbsp garlic - finely minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 cup dry white wine - (like pinot grigio)
- 28 oz diced tomatoes - (canned, with juice)
- 15 oz kidney beans - (canned; drained and rinsed)
- 15 oz garbanzo beans - (canned; drained and rinsed)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning - (see Recipe Note #1)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper - freshly ground
- 1 cup Ditalini pasta - (dry)
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley - chopped (for garnish)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese - freshly grated
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, breaking up into small chunks as it browns. When mostly cooked, add in the carrots, celery, and onions. Saute until the onions are translucent, then add the garlic.
- Move the meat mixture to one side and carefully tilt the pot toward the other, letting the fat pool. Use a ladle or large spoon to remove as much fat as practical. Discard.
- Stir the tomato paste and fish sauce into the meat mixture. Turn the heat to high and add the wine. Reduce for 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and their juice, the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, stock, salt and pepper, and herbs. Simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the pasta according to the package directions. When the pasta is done, drain and add to the soup.
- Serve the soup garnished with a sprinkling of parsley, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and a few grinds of black pepper.
- My favorite Italian seasoning mix is Tuscan Sunset from Penzey's Spices.