Pasta Fagioli – Organize Yourself Skinny


Pasta Fagioli is filled with lean ground beef, beans, and pasta. In a way, it’s an Italian-style chili. Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli has long been a favorite of mine, and I’m so happy to say this recipe is the best copycat version of it! 

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Fun fact during my college years, I worked as a waitress at the Olive Garden. Next to blogging, it was my favorite job. 

I don’t go there as often as I might like for obvious reasons – I have no self-control when it comes to garlic sticks, salad, soups, and everything else on the menu. So, instead of depriving myself of Olive Garden food, I’ve created healthy copycat versions of my favorites.

This Healthy Spinach Artichoke Dip, Zuppa Toscana, Baked Chicken Parmesan, Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo, Healthy Baked Ziti, and Healthy Eggplant Parmesan are all inspired by my Olive Garden favorites.

Today, I’m sharing one of my favorite Olive Garden copycat recipes with you – Pasta e Fagioli. And according to many of the 5-star reviews from happy readers, it’s better than the Olive Garden!

Jump to:

Reasons you’ll love this recipe

  • Delicious. This lighted-up version does not skimp on taste! Honestly, it’s the best pasta Fagioli recipe! It’s filled with rich tomato flavor, hearty ground beef, tender veggies, and fiber-rich beans. It’s filling, cozy, and warms you up from head to toe.
  • One-pot meal. All the ingredients get thrown into one soup pot for easy preparation and clean-up during the busy week.
  • Make-ahead. One of the many great things about Pasta e Fagioli is that you can make it on Sunday for lunches and dinners throughout the week or freeze it into portions for quick meals later. I’ll give more meal prep tips below.

Ingredients

ingredients for pasta fagioli.
  • Olive oil. I love using heart-healthy olive oil to saute the veggies! 
  • Carrots, celery, yellow onion, and garlic. This is the vegetable base for this Pasta Fagioli recipe. Cut the vegetables into small pieces to help them cook evenly and quickly.
  • Oregano, basil, thyme. This blend of spices brings fantastic flavor to the soup. You can also use homemade Italian seasoning.
  • Ground beef. I recommend using 90 – 95% lean ground beef to reduce the grease and fat in the recipe.
  • Tomato paste gives the soup a deep rich tomato flavor.
  • Tomato sauce adds a smooth texture and deeper tomato flavor to the soup.
  • Diced tomatoes add flavor and texture.
  • Beef broth. For the best flavor, use organic beef broth. If you don’t have any, chicken broth or vegetable broth will work.
  • Red and white kidney beans provide delicious flavor and texture to Pasta Fagioli. Just a shopping note: white kidney beans are also called Cannellini beans or Great Northern beans.
  • Ditalini pasta is a small short pasta; if you can’t find it, then small shells or elbow macaroni will work.
  • Parmesan cheese. If you can, grate the parmesan cheese fresh; this gives fantastic flavor.

How to Make Pasta Fagioli

  • In a 5 ½ quart dutch oven or large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until onions are translucent; this step takes around 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • Then stir the dried oregano, basil, and thyme into the cooked vegetables. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the spices are fragrant. This step helps to bloom the dried herbs, which gives them a deeper flavor.
  • Stir the tomato paste into the vegetables. This method helps to blend the tomato paste evenly into the vegetables and soup. 
  • Next, add the ground beef to the soup pot and sprinkle it with salt. Cook until the beef is no longer pink. Break up the ground beef into small pieces as it cooks.
  • Into the soup pot, pour the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef broth, red kidney beans, and white kidney beans.
  • Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or until carrots and celery are soft. Add more beef broth if the soup gets too thick.
  • Serve with cooked ditalini pasta. You can add the pasta to the pot or add the pasta you want into a bowl and then ladle the soup over the top and mix.

Sprinkle each bowl of soup with grated parmesan cheese and enjoy.

close-up picture of pasta fazool in a bowl.

Supplies

  • 5 ½ quart soup pot or Dutch oven
  • Soup ladle
  • Souper cubes – to freeze the soup into portions.

How to Make Crock Pot Pasta Fagioli

  • Cook the vegetables, spices, tomato paste, and beef as directed in the original recipe.
  • Add the vegetable and beef mixture into the slow cooker with the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, and broth. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours—taste for salt and seasonings. Serve with cooked pasta.

Cooking tip: Leave the pasta on the side. I don’t recommend adding the pasta to cook in the slow cooker recipe because it will get mushy. Instead, serve the portioned pasta in an individual bowl and ladle the soup over the top. 

Serving Suggestions

This hearty Italian soup doesn’t need much else to keep you full, but it pairs wonderfully with a Caesar salad or green salad.

If you have room for extra carbs, sop up the soup with this fantastic homemade gluten-free garlic bread.

overhead picture of pasta fagioli in a bowl next to a pot.

Substitutions

  • You can swap in ground turkey to lower the fat and cholesterol of this easy pasta Fagioli recipe. Ground beef does provide a more authentic pasta fazool flavor, but ground turkey is still tasty.
  • Add in some Italian ground sausage to add another layer of flavor and some extra spice to the soup. ¼ or ½ pound of ground Italian sausage will work. You can also use poultry sausage to lower the fat.
  • Spice it up by stirring in ¼ – ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Make it vegan by leaving the meat out entirely, adding an extra can of beans, and using vegetable broth. You can also use vegan “beef” crumbles instead of ground beef.
  • If you have a gluten allergy, use gluten-free pasta and double-check to ensure the broth is gluten-free. It might be challenging to find gluten-free ditalini pasta, so grab small shells or any small pasta shape if that’s the case.
  • Add more vegetables. Zucchini, squash, spinach, kale, or any vegetable will work.
  • Pasta Fagioli is a thick soup; it’s more like a chili or even a stew. If you need to thin it out, stir in an extra beef broth.

Storage Tips

To make ahead for the week.

  • Cook the pasta Fagioli on Sunday, and leave the pasta on the side. Let the soup cool slightly, then spoon it into glass storage containers and refrigerator for five days. The pasta can be made ahead and stored in a separate container or bag in the fridge.
  • Reheat the soup on the stovetop or microwave and add in the pasta after the soup is hot. 

For the freezer.

  • To freeze the pasta Fagioli soup, make it as directed in the recipe card but don’t add the pasta.
  • In my experience, soup freezes better without pasta added to it. So, if you want to freeze this soup, leave the pasta out until you are ready to eat. Or you can add the pasta on top of the soup before freezing. 
  • Then, ladle your Pasta Fagioli soup into freezer-safe lidded containers, label the date, and freeze. Make sure to fill the container about ¾, as the liquid will expand as it freezes. You can also use silicone freezer trays, like Souper Cubes, to freeze into portions.
  • You can stick it in the microwave for a minute or two when ready to eat it. It will become similar to a slushy texture at this point, so give it a couple of scrapes and stirs, then microwave it for another couple of minutes. Repeat until it’s fully warmed. You can also do this on the stovetop if you prefer.

Check out this tutorial for more detailed instructions on how to freeze soup.

overhead picture of pasta fagioli.

FAQs

What does Pasta Fagioli mean?

Pasta e Fagioli is an Italian soup—the name means “pasta and beans.” Depending on the region of Italy, the recipe can take on different forms; some recipe calls for beans, broth, and pasta, while others include crushed tomatoes and beans and is more like a stew. Both of these versions may or may not have beef or pork. Italian American Pasta Fagioli is more like an Italian-style chili with ground beef, beans, and pasta in a tomato broth with a stew consistency.

Is Pasta Fagioli vegetarian or vegan?

No, it typically includes meat to flavor the soup, but it’s not the featured ingredient. The beans, pasta, and broth are the stars of the show. Most Olive Harden copycat pasta Fagioli versions call for ground beef and beef stock. However, you can swap an extra can of beans for the beef and use vegetable broth instead.

What is the difference between pasta Fagioli and pasta fazool?

Pasta Fagioli and pasta fazool are used interchangeably and essentially describe Italian pasta and bean soup. Some versions might include a chunky marinara broth with beef and white beans, and others are a light broth flavored with pancetta or bacon.

overhead picture of pasta fagioli

Pasta Fagioli

Pasta Fagioli is filled with lean ground beef, beans, and pasta. In a way, it’s an Italian-style chili. Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli has long been a favorite of mine, and I’m so happy to say this recipe is the best copycat version of it! 

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Course: dinner, dinner recipe, Soup

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: Olive garden pasta fagioli, Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli, pasta e fagioli, pasta fagioli

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Servings: 10 people

Calories: 441kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 carrots chopped into small pieces
  • 3 celery stalks chopped into small pieces
  • 1 onion chopped into small pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups beef broth plus more if needed
  • 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can white kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups cooked ditalini pasta
  • grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • In a 5 ½ quart dutch oven or large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

  • Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until onions are translucent; this step takes around 5 minutes.

  • Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant.

  • Then stir the dried oregano, basil, and thyme into the cooked vegetables. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the spices are fragrant. This step helps to bloom the dried herbs, which gives them a deeper flavor.

  • Stir the tomato paste into the vegetables. This method helps to blend the tomato paste evenly into the vegetables and soup. 

  • Next, add the ground beef to the soup pot and sprinkle it with salt. Cook until the beef is no longer pink. Break up the ground beef into small pieces as it cooks.

  • Into the soup pot, pour the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef broth, red kidney beans, and white kidney beans.

  • Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes or until carrots and celery are soft. Add more beef broth if the soup gets too thick.

  • Serve with cooked ditalini pasta. You can add the pasta to the pot or add the pasta into a bowl and then ladle the soup over the top and mix.

Notes

How to Store
To make ahead for the week.
Cook the pasta Fagioli on Sunday, leave the pasta on the side. Let the soup cool slightly, then spoon it into glass storage containers and refrigerator for five days. The pasta can be made ahead of time and stored in a separate container or bag in the fridge.
Reheat the soup on the stovetop or microwave and add in the pasta after the soup is hot. 
To freeze.
To freeze the soup, simply make as directed in the recipe card but don’t add the pasta.
In my experience, soup freezes better without the pasta added to it. So, if you want to freeze this soup, leave the pasta out until you are ready to eat. Or you can add the pasta on top of the soup before freezing. 
Then, ladle your Fagioli soup into freezer-safe lidded containers, label the date, and freeze. Make sure only to fill the container about ¾ full, as the liquid will expand as it freezes. You can also use silicone freezer trays, like Souper Cubes, to freeze into portions.
When you are ready to eat it, you can stick it in the microwave for a minute or two. It will become similar to a slushy texture at this point, so give it a couple of scrapes and stirs, then microwave it for another couple of minutes. Repeat until it’s fully warmed. You can also do this on the stovetop if you prefer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 441kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 670mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 9g

Did you make this recipe?

Have you tried this Pasta Fagioli Soup recipe yet? If so, I’d love for you to rate this recipe and leave a comment below. We all learn from each other’s experiences. Also, it would be awesome if you could share a picture on Instagram and tag it #organizeyourselfskinny. I can’t wait to see it.

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About Tammy Overhoff

Hi, I’m Tammy Overhoff, a busy mom, wife, and entrepreneur. I am the owner, author, and recipe developer here at Organize Yourself Skinny. Since 2011 Organize Yourself Skinny has become a trusted resource for clean eating recipes to meal prep, reviews, and lifestyle hacks to help you fit healthy habits and routines into your busy schedule. I’m the author of the Organize Yourself Skinny eBook & 30-day Workbook Bundle.

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