pasta e fagioli for pasta lovers

When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool – That’s amore  -(Dean Martin, 1953) 

Italians have been bean eaters for thousand of years. Greeks ate lentils. Romans consumed  garbanzo beans and black-eyed peas daily. Common beans arrived in Italy from America with Colombo and returned to America with Italian emigrants and their “pasta fazool”.

There are a million versions of “pasta e fagioli”, pasta with beans. The quality of the beans really is important: use beans which are fresh or dried, not canned, to avoid preservatives, fresh herbs and your best extra virgin olive oil. Last but not least, cook the pasta separately so it’s al dente.  I use fresh egg pasta which is miles away from the overcooked broken spaghetti of old-time school cafeteria. Try it and you will know what I mean.


  • 3 lt (3 quarts) cold water
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 medium whole onion, peeled
  • 1 medium carrot, scrubbed
  • 1 celery stalk, leaves removed
  • 1 sprig of rosemary and a few sage leaves
  • 1 finely minced garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 60 gr (2 ounces) fresh tagliolini (narrow fettuccine) per person
  • 250 gr (8 ounces) borlotti or cannellini beans

Soak beans overnight in cold water, rinse and transfer in a tall  saucepan. Add onion,  carrot, tomato, celery, herbs and water. Cover and simmer slowly until beans are tender. Season with salt and black pepper.

Puree half of the beans and return to pan. Cover to keep warm. Cook pasta in plenty boiling hot water until al dente. Fresh tagliolini will take no more than one minute.

Meanwhile, saute 1 finely minced garlic clove in  a tablespoon olive oil until fragrant. Drain the pasta, toss in the garlic oil and a little pasta water. Ladle beans into bowls, top with the pasta and drizzle with a little more EVO oil.

Variation: mince 1 clove garlic and 30 gr.  (one ounce) pancetta or guanciale. Sautee 1 finely minced clove of garlic with 30 g (1 oz) pancetta or guanciale until fragrant and toss with the pasta.  Transfer the pasta into the bean soup and serve. For added color, decorate bowls with diced fresh tomatoes, parsley leaves or chives.


6 thoughts on “pasta e fagioli for pasta lovers

  1. This looks very good, Letizia — hearty, for cold weather!

    Why not canned beans? Do you find they taste odd, or have a strange texture? I love the idea of adding pancetta!

    BTW, I’m trying to picture Trattoria degli Umbria and can’t. Is it near Caffe Minerva?


  2. Hi Sandra,
    do try it’s an easy recipe. There is nothing really wrong with good quality canned beans except that I dislike the metallic taste given by the tin. Of course canned beans also contain preservatives which I try to avoid. In addition some canned beans are overcooked.
    As you know I work at home, so for me it’s not an effort to keep a pot of beans boiling on he stove while I am doing something else. I portion the beans and freeze them in a little cooking liquid so I always have some ready.


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