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Vegan Pasta Fagioli

$11.93 Recipe/$2.99 Serving

Vegan pasta fagioli is a healthy, comforting meal made in just one pot! This hearty vegetarian soup recipe is so easy to make and packed full of flavor!

This will quickly become your go-to soup recipe! Ready in under 30 minutes with easy to find ingredients, this is the perfect weeknight meal!

White dutch oven filled with pasta fagioli, silver ladle taking a serving.

Why you will love this healthy pasta fagioli

Vegan pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) is a traditional Italian soup recipe that is packed with flavor, only requires one pot to cook and is also very inexpensive to make. You can even make it in the Instant Pot! You will be putting this soup on your weekly meal rotation!

This pasta fagioli is vegetarian with spinach and can easily feed a big crowd so it’s perfect for quick weeknight meals or casual entertaining. My personal favorite though, is to make it on the weekend for lunches all week!

Perfect comfort food on cold days, this vegan pasta e fagioli soup is incredibly filling! To make the soup more hearty and thick (almost like a thick stew) I blend up some of the beans in the recipe. This helps keep the soup dairy free (no added cream or cheese) but still packed with flavor!

Even better the next day! If you are entertaining company or just meal prepping for yourself, you can make this soup ahead of time and reheat it with a little extra stock or water the next day!

I used lentil pasta to keep this pasta fagioli gluten free, but you can use whatever pasta you have on hand.

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What is pasta e fagioli

Pasta e fagioli is a peasant dish from Italy that translates to pasta and beans.

The traditional recipe often includes some pancetta or sausage as the base, but often it’s written as a vegan or vegetarian dish. The beauty of this dish is that the pasta cooks in the soup, helping to thicken the soup while also making it extremely easy to prepare.

Recently, pasta e fagioli has gained some recognition in the US as it is a popular soup on the Olive Garden menu.

What is the difference between pasta e fagioli and minestrone soup:

Both of these recipes are a tomato base with pasta and beans. Typically minestrone also includes a number of vegetables (like zucchini, peas, green beans, etc.) where pasta e fagioli is just pasta and beans with tomatoes and aromatics (carrots, celery, and onion).

Ingredients to make vegan pasta fagioli.

Veggie Pasta Fagioli Ingredients

  • Aromatics: Onion, Carrots, Celery – to add a strong base of flavors to the soup
  • Crushed tomatoes – easy to keep on hand in the pantry. You can make your own crushed tomatoes by blending a can of whole or diced tomatoes as well if needed.
  • Vegetable broth (or stock) – helps to add body to the soup so it tastes like it’s been cooking all day.
  • Balsamic Vinegar – helps to take the tinned flavor out of the tomatoes.
  • Spices: Italian seasoning, Salt, Bay leaf – help to add depth to the soup.
  • White beans (cannellini or great white northern beans) – this traditional dish literally translates to pasta and beans, so you can’t skip the beans!
  • Pasta – I like to use lentil pasta for more fiber and protein. Use whatever pasta you love.
  • Frozen spinach (or you could use fresh) – optional – this adds some color to the soup and also more veggies!
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Instructions for this easy pasta fagioli

  • Heat a large pot over medium heat while you chop the vegetables (onions, celery, carrots).
  • Spray the bottom of the pot with non-stick spray (I used olive oil) and add the veggies.
  • Saute the veggies for 5-6 minutes until onions become translucent.
  • To the pot with the veggies add 3 cups vegetable broth, the crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and spices (salt, Italian seasoning, bay leaf).
  • Let the mixture come to a boil on the stove.
  • While you are waiting for the soup to boil, rinse and drain the 2 cans of white beans.
  • Blend up 1 cup of white beans with 1 cup of vegetable broth you reserved until smooth (I use an immersion blender but you can use whatever you have on hand).
  • Once the soup is boiling, add the beans, pasta and the bean puree to the pot. Stir well.
  • Cook the soup for 1 minute less than the minimum time indicated on the cooking instructions for the pasta. (Example: For the lentil pasta I used the recommended time was 5-6 minutes, so I cooked the soup for 4 minutes.)
  • Turn the soup off, and add the frozen spinach (optional). This will help cool down the soup and also add color and more vegetables.
Steps on how to make vegan pasta fagioli.

Top tips

  • This recipe calls for 28oz of crushed tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes in this size container can sometimes be hard to find. However, you can make crushed tomatoes yourself in less than 30 seconds.
    • Take a can of diced or whole tomatoes (with the juice) and blend it for just a moment, crushing the tomatoes but trying not to turn it into juice. I like to use an immersion blender for this, but you could also pulse in a high speed blender.
    • Another option is to use two 15 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes as these are sometimes easier to find.
  • I like to blend up at least 1 cup of the white beans to help make the soup thick and hearty. If you want an even thicker soup, you could blend up to 1 can (drained and rinsed) of the beans.
  • Add more veggies: To help cool off the soup and add more veggies to the pasta fagioli, I like to add frozen spinach at the end. This is 100% optional and not considered “authentic” to the recipe. However I love the pop of color it adds and think more veggies is never a bad thing.
  • Don’t over cook the pasta! To ensure that the pasta does not get overcooked and mushy, you will want to read the instructions for your brand of pasta and cook the pasta 1 minute less than the instructions indicate for the minimum time. This helps account for that carry over cooking as you are waiting for the soup to cool down.
  • Add acid to canned tomatoes! I always recommend that you add balsamic vinegar to any sauce or soup that has canned tomatoes and will be cooking quickly. The balsamic vinegar helps to mellow out that canned flavor and instantly makes the soup or sauce you are making taste like it’s been cooking all day!

How to make pasta e fagioli in the instant pot

Follow these steps below to make instant pot pasta fagioli:

  • Turn the instant pot on saute function and chop the veggies.
  • Spray the bottom of the instant pot insert with non-stick spray (I used olive oil) and add the veggies.
  • Saute the veggies for 5-6 minutes until onions become translucent. Turn off the saute function when the veggies begin to soften and the onions are translucent.
  • While you are waiting for the veggies to cook, rinse and drain the 2 cans of white beans.
  • Blend up 1 cup of white beans with 1 cup of vegetable broth.
  • To the pot with the veggies add 3 cups vegetable broth, balsamic vinegar, spices (salt, Italian seasoning, bay leaf), rinsed beans, the bean puree, and pasta and stir well.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes but do not stir.
  • Put the lid on the pressure cooker and turn it on high pressure for 1 minute (for pasta that normally takes 5-6 minutes to cook), or 2 minutes (for pasta that takes 7-9 minutes to cook).
  • After the instant pot comes up to pressure and cooks for the designated time, carefully let the pressure out by manually releasing it.
  • Turn the instant pot off, and add the frozen spinach (optional). This will help cool down the soup.
Bowl of pasta fagioli with a soup taking a bite.

Other veggies you could add

If you are ok with deviating from the tradition of just pasta and beans and want to add more veggies to the soup, these would also be great additions:

  • Frozen peas
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow summer squash
  • Arugula
  • Chard
  • Kale

What to serve with this soup

This hearty soup is a filling meal that really doesn’t need much added to it. However, you could always serve a simple salad or some bread or crackers for dipping! Here are some great options:

FAQs

What is the best pasta to use

Typically the best pasta to use for pasta e fagioli is a small pasta that will easily fit on a spoon. Including:

  • Ditalini
  • Elbow Macaroni
  • Small Shell Pasta
  • Cavatelli
  • (I have made it with rigatoni and it turned out just fine)

Another thing you may want to consider is using pasta made with a different type of flour. There are so many options on the market for gluten free or higher protein. Pasta made with lentils or chickpeas are going to have higher amounts of fiber and protein vs. traditional pasta. Lentil and chickpea pasta are also gluten free and cook up very similar to regular pasta.

I really enjoy using Tolerant Brand Green Lentil Pasta, I find that when cooked, it is quite similar in texture to traditional pasta (so your picky eaters won’t even notice the difference). It can be more expensive than traditional pasta but it will actually fill you up when eating it, so it may be worth the expense.

If you just need gluten free pasta and don’t want to use lentil or chickpea pasta, I would recommend Jovial brand pasta; it’s very high quality and always turns out delicious!

Pot filled with vegan pasta fagioli with a silver spoon in the pot.

What kind of beans to use?

Traditionally pasta fagioli uses a soft, creamy bean with soft skin (like cannelini).

Here are the best beans for pasta e fagioli:

  • White beans such as cannellini beans or great northern white beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Cranberry beans
  • Butter beans

When making vegan pasta fagioli, you can use a mixture of these beans or just stick to one kind of bean. In total 2 cans of beans equals about 3 cups if you are making them at home from scratch.

Storage

Fridge: You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days in an air tight container.

Note: You may notice that as the soup sits in the fridge the pasta absorbs more of the liquid and it becomes even thicker. When reheating, you may want to add a few tablespoons of water or vegetable broth to the soup to get it back to the same consistency.

Freezer: Technically this soup can be frozen and reheated, however the pasta will likely fall apart when reheating. The best option if you plan on freezing the soup is to make the soup without the pasta and simply cook the pasta in the soup as you are reheating it for serving.  To do this, cook the frozen soup on the stove until it’s boiling, add the dry pasta and cook for 1 less minute than the instructions indicate.

How to make a thicker or thinner soup

This pasta e fagioli recipe is thickened by blending about 1 cup of the beans right into the soup. Cooking the pasta directly in the soup will absorb some of the broth and also help to thicken the soup, especially as it sits to cool on the stove after cooking.

If you want even thicker soup, you can add more pasta (go from 1 cup to 2 cups) or you can add more blended beans.

If you want a thinner soup, add water or more vegetable broth until you get your desired consistency.

Time saving tip

The most time consuming part of this recipe is chopping the vegetables and waiting for the soup to come to a boil. If you want to cut down on the time it takes to chop the vegetables, you can use a food processor to quickly chop the veggies into small pieces. This will not change the flavor but will reduce the time it takes to prepare this dish.

Alternatively, many grocery stores now sell pre-chopped carrots, celery and onion in a container together that is pre-portioned for 1 recipe. This is a great option if you are short on time and don’t mind paying for the convenience.

Don’t bother peeling your carrots (unless they are not fresh or you are really trying to make a stellar impression on someone). Typically once washed, carrot skin is not very thick and you will not notice it on your carrots when cooked down in soup.

White bowl filled with vagan pasta e fagioli.

Substitutions

  • Crushed tomatoes: If you don’t have crushed tomatoes or you don’t want to break down the diced or whole tomatoes that you can break down, you could also use tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes. Using tomato sauce will create a much thicker soup.
  • Vegetable broth: You can also use vegetable stock in this recipe to keep it vegan. You could try adding water instead, but the end result will not be as flavorful and will likely fall flat. Some people really enjoy using a Better than Boulion powder mixed in water (vegan). If you are not vegan, you could also use chicken broth, chicken stock or bone broth in place of the vegetable broth.
  • Bay leaf: if you cannot find a bay leaf (dried or fresh) you can leave it out. Be sure to take the bay leaf out after cooking so someone doesn’t end up with it in their dinner!
  • Italian Seasoning: if you don’t have a premade Italian seasoning you can use: 1 tbsp. dried basil ½ tbsp.. dried parsley, ½ tbsp. dried oregano, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. ground sage.
  • White beans: you can use whatever beans you have on hand. Great northern white beans or cannellini beans are buttery soft with thin skin, but you could also use kidney beans, chickpeas, butter beans or even cranberry beans.

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Spoon scooping the pasta fagioli from a bowl.

Vegan Pasta Fagioli

$11.93 recipe/$2.99 serving
Vegan pasta fagioli is the ultimate comfort food! This pasta and bean soup is so easy to make and only takes 30 minutes from start to finish! Perfect for weeknight meals or serving a big crowd, this gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian friendly recipe is inexpensive and so simple!
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Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: vegan pasta e fagioli, vegetarian pasta e fagioli with spinach
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 21 mins
Total Time: 26 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat a dutch oven or large soup pot on the stove on medium to medium high heat.
  • Chop the onions, carrots and celery,
  • Spray the pot with olive oil spray and add the veggies, cook 5-6 minutes until onions are translucent (stirring occasionally).
  • Add 3 cups vegetable broth, 28 oz crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and spices to the pot with the veggies and stir well.
  • Allow the soup to come up to a boil.
  • While the soup is cooking, rinse and drain the beans.
  • Take 1 cup of the beans and 1 cup of vegetable broth and blend them together until smooth.
  • Once soup is boiling, add the beans, bean puree and pasta to the pot.
  • Cook the soup for 1 minute less than the suggested cooking time on the pasta box.
  • Once done cooking, turn off the heat and add the frozen spinach. Allow the soup to cool for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

Notes

How to make Vegan Pasta Fagioli in the Instant Pot:
  • Turn the instant pot on saute function and chop the veggies.
  • Spray the bottom of the instant pot insert with non-stick spray (I used olive oil) and add the veggies.
  • Saute the veggies for 5-6 minutes until onions become translucent. Turn off the saute function when the veggies begin to soften and the onions are translucent.
  • While you are waiting for the veggies to cook, rinse and drain the 2 cans of white beans.
  • Blend up 1 cup of white beans with 1 cup of vegetable broth.
  • To the pot with the veggies add 3 cups vegetable broth, balsamic vinegar, spices (salt, Italian seasoning, bay leaf), rinsed beans, the bean puree, and pasta and stir well.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes but do not stir.
  • Put the lid on the pressure cooker and turn it on high pressure for 1 minute (for pasta that normally takes 5-6 minutes to cook), or 2 minutes (for pasta that takes 7-9 minutes to cook).
  • After the instant pot comes up to pressure and cooks for the designated time, carefully let the pressure out by manually releasing it.
  • Turn the instant pot off, and add the frozen spinach (optional). This will help cool down the soup.
How to make crushed tomatoes at home:
Take a can of diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes and puree them in the blender or with an immersion blender until just broken down (try not to make them into juice). 
Tips on chopping veggies faster:
  • Don’t bother peeling your carrots unless they are old. 
  • Add all the veggies to the food processor and quickly chop them all up into small pieces in seconds. 
What beans to use:
  • Cannellini beans
  • Great Northern White Beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney Beans
  • Butter Beans
  • Cranberry Beans
  • Nutritional information used 4oz of Tolerant Brand Lentil Elbow Pasta which adds fiber and protein. 
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
405
Fat
 
2
g
Carbohydrates
 
83
g
Fiber
 
24
g
Sugar
 
15
g
Protein
 
25
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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