Italian Pasta and Bean Soup—Pasta e Fagioli! Perfected by America’s Test Kitchen, this version has great depth of flavor, texture and takes half the time.
I always seem to start the new year off by reflecting, looking back at old photos, thinking back, not necessarily on just what I did and what my goals were but also on my children. How they grew, what they learned, wonderful moments we shared with them.
We spent the holidays in Dallas with my parents and my sister’s family so my kids had a great time hanging out and playing with their cousins. One day, Phoebe, my oldest asks me, “Mom, when are we going back home again?” I’m looking at her thinking. . why is she asking me this? She continues by saying, “I have to go back to school on Monday, January 5, so are we going to be back in Wisconsin by then?” She kind of looks a little worried. And I say, “Of course. . we’ll be back at least 2 to 3 days before you have to go back to school.”
She is, all of a sudden, better. “Phew! Because, you know, I have homework and reading to do and I left my binder at home.”
Then I realize, Phoebe is just like how I was when I was 7 years old. I’m not sure why but little things at school stressed me out. I didn’t want to miss anything or do anything wrong. Especially when it came to school work. Maybe it was the constant drilling into my head from my first generation Korean father that I had to be smart and the #1 student in my class. Yes, he probably started saying this to us, as young as 6 years old. I don’t blame him though. At least not now. That’s how he grew up and that was his way of expressing to us that he wanted us to take our school work and studying seriously.
Somewhere along the way, and I think it was in middle school, I made the executive decision for myself that I was not going to allow myself to stress out so much. Some things could go. I wouldn’t get everything. I would not make straight A’s. I would be easier on myself. I totally remember there was some math packet that we had due (it must have been for extra credit because I didn’t do it. I hated math.) and if you completed the assignment, you would get an ice cream sundae. Yes, we had an ice cream sundae party in our class. And I remember this vividly, because I was the only one, along with only one other kid, (Kenny McClain, the class troublemaker/bully and person who made my life a living hell on the playground) who didn’t complete it and so, we had to sit quietly at our desks while all the other kids got ice cream sundaes. It sucked. Big time.
So, maybe my approach to not caring and not allowing myself to stress out too much still needed some work. Because, you know, I missed out on that ice cream sundae party at school.
My husband and I tell Phoebe everyday to just do her best and not to worry about the rest. If she forgets something or doesn’t understand something, or doesn’t get something right, we will be there to help her. And my husband, for all the math homework. Because he did like math.
It’s freaking cold here in Wisconsin now, like -3 degrees cold. Negative 3. And my other job, outside of showing love, emotional support and encouragement to my husband and kids, is feeding my family.
Nothing is more comforting to me than a big bowl of Pasta e Fagioli. And because it’s -3 degrees, I added bacon and lean ground beef, along with the cannellini beans.
You guys, I hope these photos do this recipe justice because this pasta e fagioli is the best I’ve ever had. Yeah, better than what you can get at any restaurant. Plus, you took the time to make it, so that makes it 10x better at least. Packed with onions, celery, bacon (or you can use pancetta), oregano, diced tomatoes, pasta, ground beef and cannellini beans, this is comfort food. “Cooking the cannellini beans with the bacon, vegetables, tomatoes and a Parmesan cheese rind boosts the flavor.”
This is gimme-another-freaking-bowl-because-baby-it’s-cold-outside food.
This fabulous recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen’s new cookbook, The New Family Cookbook. I love this cookbook so much and as I continue to love, cook for and feed my family, I will be coming back to this cookbook again and again.
Pasta e Fagioli
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta or 3 slices bacon chopped fine
- 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 onion chopped fine
- 1 medium sized carrot peeled and chopped fine
- 1 celery rib chopped fine
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 anchovy fillets rinsed and minced or 1 tablespoon anchovy paste (to taste)
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind
- 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
- 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 1/2 cups water
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup elbow pasta
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese grated for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bacon and lean ground beef and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain just a little of the fat if needed (depending on how lean your ground beef is). Stir in the onion, carrots and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, for about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and anchovy paste and cook until fragrant, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits. Add Parmesan rind and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken broth, water and 1 teaspoon salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, for about 7 to 8 minutes.
- Discard Parmesan rind. Off heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe shared here with permission from America’s Test Kitchen. Pasta e Fagioli recipe from The New Family Cookbook, pages 109-110.
Jolena @TheRubyKitchen says
I love when you share your stories Alice. I got that cookbook for Christmas and love it so far. Thank you for the recommendation. Maybe a sundae should follow a nice bowl of this soup!
haha, thank you so much, Jolena!!! and thank YOU for reading my long post today!
I’ve been under the weather & I’m certain this would make me all better!!
Oh Marla, I hope you feel better!! When I feel any inkling of a cold, I load up on vitamin C and Emergen-C. . and of course lots of soup!!! Hope you get better soon!
Annie @ ciaochowbambina says
This looks perfect, Alice! I am now very much in the mood for pasta e fagioli!
Thanks so much, Annie!!! Coming from you, on Italian food, I’ll take that as a huge compliment!
Alice – As much as you probably don’t want her to stress about school, sounds like your Phoebe knows what her priorities are – and that isn’t a bad thing. My daughter has always picked books over friends or boys and as the years pass and I see and hear scandalous stories about some coworkers’ kids, I sure am proud of mine and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The only time I have had Pasta e Fagioli was at Olive Garden – but, this looks so much heartier! Yum!
Thanks so much, Shashi!! It’ll be interesting to see how my daughter changes over the years . . we’ll see. . and oh my gawd, you seriously need to try this!!! WAY BETTER than the Olive Garden version!
This looks delicious! My husband loves this soup- I might just have to surprise him with it this weekend. It’s not -3 here in Texas, but it still feels pretty cold! 🙂
Hi Emily, yup I heard it’s pretty cold in Dallas today .. and the coldest it’s been this winter in half the country today! Glad I made this! 🙂 if you make this for your husband, let me know how he likes it!
Ashley | The Recipe Rebel says
Pasta e Fagioli is one of my favorites! And plus, it’s absolutely frigid. Your daughter sounds like such a sweetheart — conscientiousness is a great thing to be passing on!
Awh thank you Ashley!!
Liz @ Tip Top Shape says
This is one of my favorite soups! Looks delicious!!!
Mine too!! Thanks so much, Liz!!! I love the ATK version!
Meghan @ Spoonful of Flour says
Ohh this looks so perfect right about now, stay warm Alice!
Thanks so much, Meghan! I’m trying! 🙂
Linda |Brunch with Joy says
Alice, I just read about ‘how Korean people raise their kids’ article few weeks ago and the way your dad raised his kids was on the list. Kids need to get A+ in all subjects, be a doctor, and learn music. Not too far from how I was raised, but thankfully my parents are more forgiving compared to other Chinese parents. Back to this pasta, I love one-pot recipe. Isn’t it amazing? And it does look comforting and perfect for cold days. Stay warm, buddy!
Thank you, Linda!! yeah, I think all my Asian friends can relate. . I’m glad my husband and I are on the same page re: school with our kids. . I don’t want to stress them out! School and growing up is hard enough as it is! 🙂
Jocelyn (Grandbaby cakes) says
So first off this is fantastic. It warmed my soul up right away And secondly, I can totally relate to that level of perfectionism that you experienced younger. I was like that too. The stress was too much! I feel that way even now but I am giving myself permission to chill out sometimes. Haven’t we earned that my dear?
Allie | Baking a Moment says
I”m glad you’re easing up on yourself and teaching Phoebe to do the same. Life is hard; we should all do our best to enjoy it! And this soup is a great way to do just that; I can’t think of anything more comforting than a bowl of pasta e fagioli at this time of year. Hope you’re keeping cozy! xoxo
Renee @ Two in the Kitchen says
On this freezing cold day, this soup is just the thing!! I am loving it! Pinned! 🙂
amanda @ fake ginger says
I was always the same way. I look back now and think about how much I missed out on because I was constantly stressed about what I needed to do. I’m trying to be better about it now and trying to help my kids not be little stressballs.
Stay warm! I think it’s 10F or so here today. Gahhhh. I could go for a bowl of this!
dixya | food, pleasure, and health says
your stories are always heart warming…you both are such adorable parents! and this soup is definitely i could use something like this right now.
Marissa | Pinch and Swirl says
As far as I can tell, your pictures do it justice – this soup looks amazing.
And I think it’s wonderful how you are so watchful and thoughtful about your family.
This dish has been on my bucket list for years—I guess it’s fate that I waited till you shared the BEST recipe. When we land in Indy tonight it will be subzero, too—and we left the high 70’s in Auckland. I need this at my house ASAP!!! Thanks, Alice!
Looks terrific. -3 is REALLY cold. Although I was talking to a friend this past weekend who grew up in Alaska and their rule was at -50 the school shut down! But at -49, they’re still going strong? That’s crazy. And here I am, wanting to make this soup in southern California, where it was 80 degrees F today, because it’s getting cold at night. Thanks for sharing. Definetly going on the new recipe list.
Stories of kids and experiences always warms my heart. So nice to read this post.
The soup is equally brings a warm thought, looks really good.
Sherri@ The Well Floured Kitchen says
This looks amazing! Pasta Fagioli is one of my favorite soups, and I love your addition of meat. The wind chill tonight is forecast for -30. I need a big bowl!
Aaw your daughter sounds amazing and I love that you and your husband tell her not to worry too much and just do her best. And this delicious Pasta e Fagioli sounds like the perfect way to ease away any worries. It’s freezing here and I wish I had a big bowl of this comforting soup to warm up with!
Gahhh you’re right it is SO cold here—Our high yesterday was a balmy -2 degrees. Ha-ha. So gimme ALL the pasta e fagioli and I’ll be set for life. 😉 This seriously looks so warm, cozy and comforting and just what I need today! Pinned!
Jennie @themessybakerblog says
My goal this year is to stay as stress free as possible. Like your daughter, I let the small things get to me. This soup screams cozy cold weather food. Since it’s 10 degrees in Baltimore today, I sure could use the entire pot. Pinned.
Jen @ Baked by an Introvert says
We are not in the negatives but it is only 3 degrees out today. This soup would be so perfect for dinner. Warm and cozy. Pinning!
Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says
What a great story, Alice! I was definitely like your daughter growing up, too. In fact, I still worry way too much and need to let things go! But aside from that, this soup looks like the perfect comfort food. I love the flavors in this classic dish, so great to warm up with when the weather is -7 here today!
This pasta e-fagioli looks so comforting and delicious. It’s so cold here in ND and all I crave is hot soup. I’m planning borscht for dinner tonight, but this pasta e-fagioli will be served very soon.
PS: I try to tell my teenage sister not to stress out about school too much as well. She takes it way too serious and survives on 5-6-hour sleep most days. Poor thing.
I love hearing your words of wisdom Alice and I know that you’re already an amazing blogger, fellow foodie and an incredible mum. It’s a really interesting thing (also having grown up in an Asian family,) because so much of what you describe with your dad, school work and that zeal to do the very best, is both wonderful and inhibiting at the same time. Nonetheless, we can’t change who others are, just how we respond to their needs (& ours.)
Alas it’s summertime here, it I’d gladly swap you a cold snow day and a bowl of comfort for a sunny Sydney one! It’s too warm and I’m too pregnant 😉
Medha @ Whisk & Shout says
Yum, this looks fantastic! I just want to dunk those toasty slices of bread in the soup and chow down 🙂
I feel like I put a lot of pressure on myself as a kid also, though my parents were totally not the source of it – it was all me! So I guess Phoebe and I are a lot alike! Love how you guys encourage her to just do the best she can.
Girl, it is FREEZING here and I need a big bowl of this ASAP!
Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy says
I love meals like this because it’s such a good way to use up leftovers.
That sounds VERY cold. Apparently we are meant to be getting some of your cold weather over here in the UK next week and we are NOT looking forward to it.
Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living says
Love how cute your daughter sounds. I try to instill good study habits without putting too much pressure on my kids, but it’s hard. Every kid is different and I’m still learning. It is freezing this week so this bowl of soup would be most welcome in my house!
Liz @ Floating Kitchen says
This soups looks delicious! Just what I need! And me….oh I was (and still am) a big stresser about school/work. My mom always tells a story how I was crying and crying in first grade about something that I had to color and working I wasn’t going to finish it on time. First grade! Coloring! SO silly. Ahhh.
Thanks for sharing this honest story along with the fabulous recipe. Parenting is a complex task! I think you’ve got the most important part down though – love. That comes through loud and clear in all that you do. -3! I’m cold, turtleneck on and blanket across my lap, and it’s officially 46 and sunny here! I can’t imagine how cold I would be at -3. Keep the soup flowing!!
Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps says
Nothing sounds as good as this does at this very moment. I just walked in from the FREEZING cold, and can’t seem to warm by body up! I think this would do the trick just perfectly!
Chris @ Shared Appetite says
Beautiful post, Alice. I try to not let the little stuff stress me out either, but I’m super Type A so… yea, doesn’t always work out that way haha! Sounds like you are an amazing mom! Your kids are so blessed to have you 🙂 And this soup?? It sounds magical. The photos are gorgeous. Pinning so I remember to make!
Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch says
I could really go for a big bowl of this today, Alice! It looks so delicious and comforting for these cold days – but I could eat it any day of the week, any time of the year! Yum! xo
we live in the southwest so frigidity is not an issue. However this just seems to hit the spot. Thank you for your terrific photos and your wordy blog……very enjoyable read.
Thank you, Barb!! I hope “wordy” here means good 🙂 Happy Friday!!
Hello there! This recipe sounds amazing! I’m just wondering if I can make it with ground turkey meat instead? And skip the anchovies? I know they add a lot of flavor just don’t think my kids will love it 🙂
This is a keeper. I’ve made it a couple of times, it is good even without the cheese. I added a few fresh green beans.
Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, Laura!!! and the green beans sound great!
Years ago when Olive Garden first opened their doors I fell in LUV with the “f soup”. We didn’t go very often, usually between pay days, and we could never remember the name so it became the “f soup”. I had lost my recipe so I was thrilled to see this one!! All that’s needed is some Olive Gardens bread sticks!! (on line)
I do not but a lot of Parmesan in blocks so what would be a substitute for the rind?
Hi Shirley! If you don’t have a rind, you can do one of two things: 1) use a piece of a block of parmesan cheese and discard later if it’s still in tact and you are able to fish it out, or 2) simply skip the rind and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese when serving. It will still taste excellent! Thank you! Hope you try it!