It might seem odd to be posting about a soup recipe in the springtime, but there are still a lot of chilly days here in the Boston area and I feel like everyone could use recipes right now that are both comforting and pantry-heavy as we adjust to not going out as much and general worry with the COVID-19 situation. This Italian bean soup, often called pasta e fagioli, is such a good one-pot soup recipe. It’s hearty, healthy, filling and delicious, and hallelujah to having just one pot to clean when dinner is over.
You need a few fresh items to make this Italian bean soup – onions, carrots, and celery – but otherwise it’s entirely made up of things from the pantry or the freezer. In the freezer, you can keep packages of diced pancetta, spinach, and parmesan cheese you’ve either grated in the food processor yourself or bought pre-grated. I’ve started buying big packs of fresh basil, washing it, and separating the leaves into containers for the freezer too. The color and consistency change from those of fresh basil but the flavor is exactly the same when you’re using it in a cooked recipe like this Italian bean soup. Everything else you need for this recipe is a pantry item – white beans, tomato paste, chicken broth, and pasta.
Sometimes I pop an immersion blender into the soup at the end and give it a few buzzes to add a little creamy texture to the soup but you don’t have to do that. It’s a totally flexible recipe too, you can add any veggies you like or have on hand and it’ll work. Fennel, kale, chard, arugula, mushrooms, zucchini, and parsnips would all be great additions, though I would still keep the onions, carrots, and celery as the base.
This Italian bean soup is a little creamy, a little meaty, a little acidic, a little nutty, and all of those littles come together for big delicious flavor that is ready to eat in a little over a half hour. I hope you give it a try and that it becomes a favorite pantry recipe of yours too! And if you’re looking for more soup recipes, try my light creamy mushroom soup or curry cauliflower soup, yum!
Italian Bean Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 oz pancetta diced
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 large carrots diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 c chicken broth
- 1 c water
- 2 15 oz cans cannellini beans rinsed
- 8 oz small pasta (ditalini, elbows, or orzo)
- 2 c fresh spinach (or 1 c. frozen) chopped
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/4 c fresh basil chopped
- Add the oil and pancetta to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Cook until the pancetta starts to crisp and darken in color, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onion, carrots, celery, and salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Cook until the vegetables are softened, 7-10 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and crushed red pepper, stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the broth, water, and cannellini beans and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Increase the heat to bring the soup back to a full boil and add the pasta. Then lower the heat to a simmer again and cook until the pasta is tender (follow the time listed on your pasta package). Add the spinach and cook just a few minutes until it is wilted.
- Take the pot off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and the basil.