21 Jul Bean and Pasta Soup (Zuppa Pasta e Fagioli)


Bean and Pasta Soup (Zuppa Pasta e Fagioli)

21 July 2021

PREP. TIME: 5 MIN   -   COOK TIME: 4o - 90 mins   -   SERVES: 4 -6

This tremendously unpretentious meal is economical and nourishing.

While the cooking techniques required are minimal and the ingredients are modest, the cooking sequence, with its layering of savoury ingredients, builds the distinctive flavour and richness.

I love the Italian practice where households keep a jar of broken and left over bits of all sorts of dried pasta to cook in the pasta e fagioli pot.  Failing that - small tubes or elbows of pasta work well.

Recipe Template

If using dried beans such as dried cannellini or borlotti beans - cover them with plenty of water and soak overnight or at least for 6 hours.  Drain and rinse the beans well before cooking.

For more information on cooking dried beans visit : 


If using freshly shelled borlotti beans you do not need to soak them - allow about 30 - 45 minutes to cook though.

You can also use tinned beans in this recipe - Use 2 or 3 tins of borlotti or cannelini beans, empty the beans into a strainer, rinse them well and drain the water before using. Treat them as cooked beans and once they are warm, add the savoury based described below and continue with the recipe.

ingredients for 4 -6 people

300g dried or freshly shelled beans or 400g tinned or cooked beans

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 celery stick

2 garlic cloves

200 g peeled plum tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 small piece hot chilli pepper (optional)

300g mixed and broken bits of pasta

1 tablespoon fresh oregano chopped or a teaspoon of dried oregano

1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley chopped



Bowl or pot to soak the beans

Soup pot to cook the beans and to make the soup in

A small pot to make the savoury base

Chopping board and kitchen knife


Wooden spoon

Shallow bowl and fork or a food moulie.


Step 1 - Prepare the ingredients:

Rinse the soaked or tinned beans and drain well.

Rinse and finely mince the celery

Peel the garlic cloves and keep the cloves whole.

Step 2 - Cook the Beans

Place the fresh or soaked and drained beans in a pot and cover well with water by about 5cm.  Cover and cook over moderate heat at a steady simmer until they are tender - this may take as little as 30 minutes or for over an hour depending on how fresh the beans are.

If you are using tinned beans, cover these with water and heat them over moderate heat.

Step 3 - Make the Savoury Base

When the beans are almost tender prepare the savoury base.

Heat the olive oil in a pot and sauté the whole garlic and the finely minced celery.  When the garlic is brown - remove and discard it.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped, peeled tomatoes, the tomato paste, the chilli or pepper, 1/4 cup water and a dessert spoon of salt.  

Stir and cook for 10 minutes over low heat.

Step 4 - Assembly

Add the savoury base to the beans and their cooking liquid. By now the beans should be falling apart.

Continue cooking over low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove about 1/3 of the beans from the pot and either mash them in a shallow bowl with a fork or pass them through a food moulie and return them to the pot.

Add the pasta, the oregano and the parsley;.

Raise the heat to high to return the pot to a boil as soon as possible.

Cook adding a little more boiling water if necessary, until the pasta is al dente.

Step 5 - To Serve

Let the soup rest for 10 minutes before serving.

It should be dense with a creamy texture.


Recipe adapted by Elizabeth Peddey from La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy 

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