Pasta e Fagioli {Olive Garden Copycat}

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Pasta e Fagioli is a hearty, herb-packed soup with beans, ground beef, and pasta. This heartwarming soup is healthy, filling, and the perfect meal for a chilly day!

Try our other Olive Garden copycat recipes: this Olive Garden salad or this Zuppa Toscana soup.

Overhead image of Pasta e Fagioli in a bowl with a spoon in it and fresh parsley.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a traditional Italian soup. Translated from Italian it means “pasta and beans” and is often called “pasta fasul” in the United States. As far as how to say it: say “pah-sta eh fazh-e-ohl-eh.” 

The version I’m sharing today is not an authentic Italian soup, but it’s a comforting and hearty soup with pasta, beans, and ground beef. It has Italian-inspired dried herbs, lots of tomatoes, and is finished with a hearty dose of Parmesan cheese.

The difference between Minestrone and Pasta e Fagioli

While Pasta e Fagioli is similar to minestrone, there are a few differences.

  • Minestrone has a lot of different veggies; Pasta e Fagioli typically just has mirepoix (a combination of finely chopped onions, celery and carrots) and tomatoes — no other veggies. 
  • Minestrone doesn’t always include beans (though it usually does), and doesn’t include meat.

Overhead image of the ingredients going in a pot and being cooked together to make Pasta e Fagioli.

 I’ve got a quick photo collage showing just how easy this soup is to make. I also have plenty of variation ideas, some quick tips, and the recipe itself, which includes directions for making Pasta e Fagioli in the slow cooker.

How to make Pasta e Fagioli

The descriptions below correlate with the photo collage above this text.

  1. Start with the onions, celery, and carrots (also called mirepoix): sweat down these veggies with low heat.  Take your time; this will develop the base flavor for this soup.
  2. Add in the garlic.
  3. Brown the beef: Cook and crumble the beef until cooked through and no longer pink.
  4. Add seasonings: All the herbs get added here as well as the salt and pepper. Start with less salt since the bouillon cube, broth, and Parmesan cheese do add a good amount of saltiness. It’s easy to add more at the end if needed.
  5. Tomatoes and beans: The drained and rinsed beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and marinara sauce all go in next.
  6. Broth: Add beef broth and crumbled bouillon. (The bouillon amps up the beef flavor and overall flavor of the soup.) I add less beef broth for a thicker and heartier soup, but feel free to add an additional cup (or two!) if you would like a more broth-like soup. Once everything is added in, simmer the Pasta e Fagioli soup for 30 minutes.
  7. Pasta: When the soup is almost done, cook the pasta 1 minute short of al dente and then toss with red wine vinegar.
  8. Stir the pasta into the soup and serve: Garnish individual bowls with herbs and Parmesan cheese.

Image of the soup in the pot and then in a bowl ready to be eaten.

Variation ideas:

  • Meat: Use Italian sausage in place of the ground beef.
  • Vegetarian Pasta e Fagioli: Replace the ground beef with an extra can (or two) of beans and use vegetable stock in place of beef stock. Remove the bouillon cube.
  • Swap the pasta: This recipe calls for ditalini (a tiny, tube-shaped pasta), so when substituting other macaroni, stick to a smaller shape like orzo, orecchiette, or elbow macaroni.
  • Add some greens: If you want more greens, feel free to add in some chopped spinach, kale, or Swiss chard near the end of the cooking time. Cook until the greens are wilted.

Overhead up-close image of Pasta e Fagioli soup in the pot.

Pasta e Fagioli tips

  • Don’t forget to garnish: The final touches really make the soup. I recommend a good Parmesan or pecorino cheese and freshly chopped parsley. Some other garnish ideas:a squeeze of fresh lemon (or additional red wine vinegar) for more tang, red pepper flakes if you like some heat, or other fresh herbs like basil or thyme. These additions add brightness and vibrancy to this hearty soup.
  • Broth or stock: Make sure to get low sodium. We want to season this soup ourselves and it’s much easier to fix an under-salted soup than an over-salted one.
  • Develop the soup’s flavor: The key to a deep, savory flavor all begins with the mix of veggies (the mirepoix — onion, carrot, and celery). Take the time to sweat down the veggies on low heat until they are softened (but haven’t take on color). They will lose a lot of their volume and release liquid which leads to a rich flavor base for Pasta e Fagioli. 
  • Use Rao’s® marinara sauce: (not sponsored!) this marinara sauce is my secret ingredient for this soup; it adds such a great rich flavor!

What to eat with Pasta e Fagioli

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Pasta e Fagioli {Olive Garden Copycat}

5 from 8 votes
Pasta e Fagioli is a hearty, herb-packed soup with beans, ground beef, and pasta. This heartwarming soup is healthy, filling, and the perfect meal for a chilly day!
Print Recipe

Pasta e Fagioli {Olive Garden Copycat}

5 from 8 votes
Pasta e Fagioli is a hearty, herb-packed soup with beans, ground beef, and pasta. This heartwarming soup is healthy, filling, and the perfect meal for a chilly day!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword pasta e fagioli
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 312kcal
Cost $9.23

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup EACH: diced carrots, diced celery, diced yellow onion (~2-3 carrots, ~2-3 stalks celery, ~1/2 of 1 onion)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (~2 cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: dried oregano, dried basil, Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cans (14.5 ounces EACH) fire-roasted diced tomatoes,undrained (I love Muir Glen)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) white beans (cannellini beans or great northern beans), drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 and 1/2 cups Rao's marinara sauce (or tomato sauce)
  • 2-4 cups reduced sodium beef stock (Note 1)
  • 1 large beef boullion cube (Note 2)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar, divided
  • 3/4 cup ditalini pasta (measured when uncooked)
  • Optional: freshly parsley, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes if you like some heat

Instructions

  • PREP: Dice the carrots, celery, onion, and mince the garlic.
  • VEGGIES AND BEEF: To a large stockpot, add the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Once hot, add in the 3/4 cup diced carrots, 3/4 cup diced celery, and 3/4 cup onion. Cook, stirring often, until veggies are beginning to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the 2 teaspoons minced garlic and cook, stirring often, for another minute. Push veggies to the sides, increase the heat to high and add in the 1 pound of lean ground beef. Allow to cook without touching for about 30 seconds. Then crumble the beef and cook until no longer pink, about 6-8 minutes. Incorporate the veggies into the beef as you crumble and cook it.
  • SEASONINGS AND TOMATOES: Add the seasonings to the beef: start with 1/2 teaspoon salt (or even less; add to preference), 3/4 teaspoon cracked pepper (or to preference), 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Stir for 30 seconds. Add in the 2 cans of undrained fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed can of white beans, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, and 1 and 1/2 cup Rao's marinara sauce. Stir to combine. Add in the beef stock; start with 2 cups and add in the 3rd (or even 4th) cup if you'd like it slightly thinner (we usually stick to 2 cups for a thicker soup). Stir and then reduce the heat to low. Crumble in the beef bouillon cube and add in the bay leaf. Stir. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. After it's simmered for 30 minutes, stir in the 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt to taste. Remove the bay leaf.
  • PASTA: About 20 minutes before the soup is done, bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add some salt to the water and add in the 3/4 cup uncooked pasta. Cook until 1 minute short of package instructions for al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss with the remaining 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar and set aside until soup is ready.
  • FINISH: If eating all of the soup at this meal, stir in the pasta. If you want leftovers, I like to serve the pasta separately so it doesn't bloat. If doing it this way, add pasta to individual serving bowls. Garnish individual bowls with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley if desired. Enjoy hot.
  • SLOW COOKER DIRECTIONS: In a medium-sized skillet over medium high heat, brown the ground beef with the onions, carrots, and celery. Drain off any grease. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add in the tomatoes, kidney beans, white beans, tomato paste, marinara sauce, and 2 cups beef stock. Add in all the seasonings, beef bouillon cube, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours or low for 5-7 hours or until the vegetables are tender. When finished, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the red wine vinegar. Add in pasta that has been cooked, drained, and tossed with the 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley if desired.

Recipe Notes

Note 1: This soup is thick and hearty -- more of a stew-like consistency. We love it this way, but if you prefer a more broth-y soup, add 1 or 2 extra cups of beef broth. 
Note 2: Here are the exact bouillon cubes I use; they're a bit larger than most, so you may want to use 2 smaller ones.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6servings | Calories: 312kcal | Carbohydrates: 48.3g | Protein: 23.9g | Fat: 6.5g | Cholesterol: 46.1mg | Sodium: 310.9mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 7.1g

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34 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! I am trying it out tonight. Unsure how I feel about the red wine vinegar but I trust you . . . Havent tasted it yet so will report back!

    1. You don’t have to put it in, but I like tossing it with the pasta 🙂 Please let me know how you liked this! 🙂

  2. Thank you for listing your delicious recipes, I’m going to be making several for my parents after my dad has back surgery. Thanks again!

    1. You are so welcome!! I hope you enjoy whatever you try! And good luck for your dad and his recovery, so kind of you to make them meals 🙂

  3. The instructions mention adding thyme, but I don’t see it in the ingredient list nor in the instructional video. Should it be added and if so how much?

    1. I’m so sorry about that Tonya! Thanks for pointing out the error, I’ve updated the ingredient list to include 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 🙂 Enjoy!

    1. Thank you Sharon! It’s not; seasoned salt is a blend of table salt, herbs, spices, other flavorings. You can use table salt in a pinch, but I definitely prefer seasoned salt. Enjoy!

  4. I plan on cooking this soup and then freezing it before eating it. If I do this, what is your recommendation on how to cook the pasta? Thanks!

  5. Excellent made twice alreary and again today,get get enough of it .myparents usedto make it when I was a kid but didn’t like it that much but now c ant get enough of it.bestrecipe thanks you

    1. I haven’t tried any substitutes for the tomatoes so I really couldn’t say what would or wouldn’t work without trying myself (sorry!). If you’re okay with tomato flavor and just don’t like the chunks, I’d try crushed tomatoes.

  6. 5 stars
    I have made this recipe many times and each time it has been a hit. I have doubled and tripled the recipe for larger groups and the ingredient proportions work out great each time. I actually prefer this recipe over Olive Garden’s. Thank you.

  7. 5 stars
    Thank you for your recipes we have tried three and enjoyed each! We used a stainless stock pot on glass stove top and found that we needed to lower the heat settings some but other than that was great. We love carbs and brothy soup so will be adding more pasta and maybe even 5 cups stock and removing the added salt next time (personal preferences though). Thanks again and we look forward to trying more of your recipes!

    1. I am seriously so happy to hear this! Thank you so much! 🙂 And those are great tips! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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