More >

Pasta and Beans

Pasta e Fagioli


Almost every southern Italian family has a version of pasta and beans, called pasta e fasola, pasta fazool, or pasta e fagioli. In my version I use the speckled red borlotti, or cranberry bean, although this is a matter of preference since kidney or cannellini beans can also be used.

Italians make this hearty soup with fresh beans when in season. In the winter, dried beans are first soaked and then cooked. The pasta used is a small tubular macaroni called ditalini. Substituting elbow macaroni is acceptable.


1 1/2 cups dried borlotti (cranberry) beans

8 cups cold water

2 cups (8 ounces) Ditalini

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into quarters

1 rib celery, cut into quarters

2 medium onions, peeled and cut into quarters

1 large clove garlic, peeled

2 ounces pancetta or bacon

Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1/2 cup Filippo Berio olive oil

3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced

Salt and pepper to taste

Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese


Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and let sit overnight.

The next day, drain the beans, place them in a large soup pot, and cover with cold water. Bring the beans to a boil and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they are still al dente. Add the pasta and boil the mixture for about 15 minutes more, or until the pasta is al dente.

While the beans are cooking, make a battuto, or minced mixture of the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, pancetta, and rosemary. In a skillet, heat, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, add the minced mixture, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the tomatoes, cover the skillet, and simmer for about 12 minutes.

When the pasta is cooked, add the vegetable mixture, stirring well. Add salt and pepper and serve the soup immediately in individual soup bowls. Drizzle a little of the remaining olive oil over the soup and pass the cheese to sprinkle over the top.

Note: Crusty Italian bread and a simple green salad of romaine and radicchio round out this meal.

This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1993.


  1. brenda arellano's avatar

    brenda arellano

    When I was a little girl and all through my teens and as an adult one of my favorite dishes was Pasta E Fagioli. I saw the recipe for Pasta e Fagioli and thought of my wonderful late Nonnie Santa and had to cook it up in her honor. It was delicious and it brought back so many memories and my 4 kids sat down to a big bowl of this wonderful dish and said mom this reminds me of great Nonnie Santa's dish. Thank you so much
  2. Van Deacon's avatar

    Van Deacon

    I wish you would list your recipes with beans that was shown on PBS 7/26 in Phildelphia - the one with homemade pasta and an herbed uncooked sauce - also the tuna salad with a bit of everything from veggies, beans and penne.
  3. Alba Bianchi's avatar

    Alba Bianchi

    I enjoy watching your shows, there’s always something you make that brings me back to childhood even your mannerisms reminds me of my Aunt Flora which I loved very much.
    I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I admired you past n current show.
    God Bless you, Alba

Leave a Comment

Looking for even more photos and recipes?
Order my latest book.

Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.

Order using this link and receive a signed book plate.

Available now!