Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

  • Author: Flavia Scalzitti


Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan


  • ½ pound dried cranberry (borlotti) beans
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large celery stalk, small dice
  • 1 large carrot, small dice
  • ½ medium onion, small dice
  • ¼ pound pancetta, small dice
  • 1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup reserved bean cooking liquid
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 1½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 rind from wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Ditalini (or other short, small pasta), cooked to al dente and drained


To cook the dried beans

  1. The night before, place the dried beans in a large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. The next day, drain the beans through a colander and rinse with cold water. Transfer the beans to a large pot and cover with cold water by 3 inches. Cover the pot partially with the lid and cook the beans over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1½ hours, until tender. The cooking liquid should simmer gently throughout the cooking process.
  3. When the beans are finished cooking, leave them in the cooking liquid until you are ready to use them. Note: If you are making the beans a day or two in advance, cool them completely and store them in the refrigerator in their cooking liquid.
  4. When you are ready to use the beans, reserve 1 cup of the bean cooking liquid and then drain the cooked beans through a colander.

To make the soup

  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Add in the celery, carrot, onion and ½ teaspoon of the salt, and sauté until softened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add in the diced pancetta and cook until it’s lightly browned.
  3. Add in the crushed tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently and does not scorch.
  4. Add in the drained, cooked beans, stirring thoroughly to coat them with the tomato mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the beef broth, bean cooking liquid, water, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, and stir well to combine.
  5. Cover the pot partially with the lid and bring the soup to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. Cook the soup for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The liquid should reduce slightly. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. Add in the cooked pasta and stir well to combine.
  7. Serve hot with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.


  • Do not salt the beans when you are cooking them. They will get enough seasoning when you assemble and cook the soup.
  • Make it Vegetarian: Omit the pancetta and use vegetable stock instead of beef broth.