This pasta e fagioli is green and bright. It’s perfect for a quick dinner that doesn’t require much prep or effort at all.
This recipe first appeared in my cookbook, The Plant-Based 5-Ingredient Cookbook.
Pasta e fagioli but make it green and make it bright. Pasta e fagioli means pasta and beans. It’s a famous Italian dish with origins in the countryside of Naples (or Tuscany depending on who you ask). It’s beloved for its rustic, peasant-style approach where just a few humble ingredients transform into a rich, comforting, hearty dish. The stew is typically made by cooking beans down with other simple ingredients. Notably, these ingredients include Italian sofrito, pasta, oil, sometimes garlic, and tomatoes of some variety, until thickened and stewy.
How to make this herby pasta e fagioli:
This herby take is the perfect cure for a cool day. While it follows a similar premise of pasta e fagioli, it breaks from tradition in a few ways. First, it replaces tomatoes with Lacinato kale. The recipe includes a handful of bright, fresh herbs like parsley, dill, or basil thrown in at the very end. Use a combination of whichever herbs you have on hand. Supplement as you like with seasonally available options like tarragon, fresh thyme, or marjoram. If you have a particularly leafy bunch of celery, mince the leaves for the soup as well.
What you need
- Diced onion, or use leeks or shallots
- Canned white beans, like cannellini or navy beans
- Elbow pasta
- Lacinato kale
- Fresh herbs
How to make it
- Step 1: First, fry the onion until soft, and add the beans. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Step 2: Add in the liquid–water or vegetable broth–and bring to a boil.
- Step 3: Simmer for 30 minutes, tasting and seasoning periodically. This is a very simple soup with few ingredients, so be sure to season well throughout.
- Step 4: Boil up some pasta! I used elbows, but try it with ditalini or pastina.
- Step 5: Finish the pasta e fagioli! Throw the herbs into the soup and ladle over the cooked pasta.
You can cook the pasta separately from the broth and serve out only what you intend to eat at dinner. Store the rest of the pasta separately from the broth in the fridge to prevent swelling in the broth. Personally, I don’t mind the pasta swelling, so I throw the pasta right in the broth as soon as it finishes cooking. You can even the pasta straight in the soup if you don’t feel like messing up another pot.
Herby Pasta e Fagioli
- Large pot
- Medium pot
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil for frying
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 15- ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed, or 3 cups fully cooked white beans from 1 cup dry white beans
- Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
- 6 cups water or vegetable stock
- 8 ounces elbow pasta or your favorite small pasta like ditalini or orzo
- 1 head Lacinato kale, stems removed and leaves torn
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, dill, or a mix; roughly chopped; a pinch reserved for garnish
Sauté the onion and beans:
- Heat the neutral oil in a wide pot on medium-high. Add the onion and cook for 6 to 7 minutes until it just begins to soften. Add the beans and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
Simmer the soup:
- Pour in the water or stock and season the liquid with salt, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper if you like. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and season periodically.
Cook the pasta:
- Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain. Set aside.
Finish the soup:
- Add the kale and fresh herbs to the pot of beans and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the cooked pasta between bowls and ladle the soup over the pasta. Garnish each bowl with more fresh herbs. Enjoy!