This pasta e fagioli is an easy Olive Garden copycat that’s perfect on a cold winter day. It’s loaded with fresh veggies, beans, ground beef, seasonings and ditalini pasta. Super hearty and delicious!
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Italian Pasta and Beans
Olive garden is one of our favorite restaurants. Whenever we eat out, it’s always the first place my kids ask to go. We especially love their soups and often recreate them at home. This pasta fagioli is a favorite, as well as zuppa toscana, minestrone and chicken gnocchi soup.
We’ve been making this pasta fagioli (also known as pasta e fagioli or pasta fazool) for a couple of years now and it is one of my family’s favorite soup recipes! Everyone loves it. I found the recipe in a church cookbook that my mom gave me and have adjusted it a bit since the first time I made it. I always like to play with the seasonings and measurements and try adding new things. It makes cooking fun!
What Does Pasta Fazool Mean?
The word pasta fazool (or pasta e fagioli) originated in Italy and means “pasta and beans.” These ingredients are the base for the Italian dish, however other veggies and meats are sometimes added in to enhance the flavor. I like to add in ground beef, onions, carrots, tomatoes and celery to bulk it up a little.
Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.
- Lean ground beef: Brown the meat with salt and pepper first to seal in all the flavor.
- Vegetables: Chopped onions, garlic, carrot and celery build up the dish and add a great deal of flavor.
- Tomatoes: V-8 juice, tomatoes, tomato sauce give this soup an extra layer of tomato goodness.
- Water: The liquid makes the dish a soup rather than a stew.
- Beans: Great northern beans and kidney beans give the soup a bit of extra heartiness.
- Vinegar: The right amount of tang to help round out the acid of the tomatoes.
- Italian seasoning: Along with salt and pepper, this is all that is needed to add the right amount of flavor.
- Pasta: Ditalini pasta is traditional and is cooked to al dente before being added to the soup.
- Toppings: Shaved parmesan and fresh basil finish the soup perfectly.
How to Make Pasta e Fagioli
- Brown. Cook the hamburger in a large pan until brown. Season with salt and pepper, then add in chopped onions, garlic, carrot and celery. Sauté for about 5 more minutes, or until the veggies begin to soften.
- Simmer. Next add in the V-8, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, beans, vinegar and seasonings. Let the mixture simmer on medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Make sure to stir the soup frequently throughout cooking.
- Cook pasta. At the 20-minute mark, boil the pasta in a separate pot until al dente. Then drain and stir the noodles into the soup.
- Serve. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with shaved parmesan and fresh basil. We love serving this soup with warm Olive Garden breadsticks!
Tips + Modifications
- Buy prechopped onions, carrots and celery for convenience.
- For even more flavor, use a mixture of ground beef and Italian sausage.
- Use ground turkey instead of beef to make lighter.
- Ditalini is the traditional pasta to use for fagioli, but any other small shell pastas would work.
- For a thinner consistency, add an additional can of V-8 juice.
- Feel free to use a variety of beans, including cannellini beans, cranberry beans, red kidney beans, or borlotti beans.
- Serve with a green salad topped with Olive Garden salad dressing for a restaurant quality meal!
Absolutely! Simply omit the ground beef and add another can of beans or more veggies to make it a bit heartier.
Sure. I would still recommend browning the meat before adding it and all of the ingredients (except the pasta) to a crockpot. Cook on low 3 to 4 hours and then add the cooked pasta.
You can make your own Italian seasoning with oregano, thyme, basil, sage, rosemary, and parsley.
Freezing + Reheating
You can absolutely freeze this soup, however do not mix in the cooked pasta when freezing. It tends to get mushy when frozen and reheated. Simply prepare as directed, however leave out the pasta. Let cool and then pour into a freezer container or bag. Make sure to leave about an inch from the top so the soup has room to expand. Then store in freezer.
When ready to eat, thaw in fridge overnight. Then heat back up in a pot on the stove (or in the microwave) until warm. Cook the noodles in a separate pot while the soup is warming. Then drain the noodles and stir back into the soup before serving.
More Italian Soup Recipes
Pasta e Fagioli
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ cup onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¾ cup carrots
- 1 cup celery
- 1 (11.5-ounce) can original V-8 juice
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup water (more if desired to thin)
- 1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern beans
- 1 (15-ounce) can Kidney Beans
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1-1 ½ cups Ditalini pasta (uncooked)
Optional for serving: Parmesan cheese and Fresh basil
- In a large pot over medium-heat, brown beef. Add salt and pepper. Stir in onions, garlic, carrots, and celery and sauté 5 minutes, or until tender.
- Add the V-8 juice, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, beans, vinegar, and Italian seasoning. Simmer 30 minutes on medium-low, stirring occasionally.
- In the last 10 minutes of soup cook time, in a separate pot filled with water, cook the pasta 7 minutes, or al dente. Be careful to not overcook as it will cook and additional minute in the soup. Drain and combine with soup.
- Ladle pasta fagioli into bowls and enjoy with parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
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