JUSTIN WELSH: Food Muse — Pasta e Fagioli

“When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool, that’s amore.”

I heard this Dean Martin lyric a little differently one day while preparing for a day at work. I asked myself “What is this dish he croons over?”

After a little research, I stumbled upon a few recipes. My first reaction was not one of positive impression. My curious side got the best of me and decided to give it a try. I have been drooling since.

Pasta e fagioli, pronounced, “pasta fazool” or “pasta e fasule,” is an Italian peasant dish based on cheaper ingredients. Like many peasant dishes, the primary invention of them has been the result of cultures all over the globe that have been through periods of financial struggle, cooking what little is available for what little they have to pay for it.

Born as a meatless dish, pasta e fagioli has gone through some reinvention throughout the years. I often refer to it as an Italian chili. The heartiness of this dish fills your stomach — and your soul.

My version of this soup includes ground beef and pork with crunchy buttered baguette slices and Parmesan cheese. Make a full batch, and you can easily freeze the rest for colder days ahead. That is, of course, if it makes it that long. It can be stripped down to a vegan version quite easily, replacing vegetable stock for beef and chicken.

Pasta e Fagioli
¼ cup olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 yellow onion diced
1 celery stalk diced
3 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground seasoned pork
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups beef stock
1 cup small noodles (Any kind will do. I like to use miniature noodles for this. Often times the larger ones absorb much of liquid and swell quite a bit. Smaller pieces tend to not do this.)
1 can northern beans drained and rinsed (Any white bean substitute will do.)
1 can Italian seasoned diced or crushed tomatoes
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese
Toasted baguette with butter

  1. Place soup pot on stove and set to medium high temp.  Once pan is heated, add oil.
  2. Place carrots, celery, and onion into pot and stir on heat for 2 to 3 minutes at medium high.
  3. Turn heat down to medium and stir vegetables for another 8 minutes.  Or until they soften slightly.
  4. Add crushed garlic and stir for 1 minute.
  5. Crank heat back to medium high and add pork and beef and chop until broken into small pieces.
  6. Add Italian seasoning, and let cook until meat is almost fully cooked.
  7. Cover with the stocks. You may need more, or less. I usually add until the liquid is above the vegetables and meats.
  8. Add noodles and cook on medium until done. Depending on the noodle you use, you may need to add more stock.
  9. Once noodles are cooked, add tomatoes and white beans
  10. Once everything is hot, check seasoning and add salt, pepper and Tabasco to your liking.
  11. Toast baguette or any bread you have around and add butter.
  12. Place bread in a soup bowl. Cover with the pasta fagioli.
  13. Enjoy
    This dish is the ultimate when it comes to comfort food. As the temperature drops with each passing day, this recipe will bring back the warmth that winter sucks away.  It has always been a crowd pleaser wherever I have taken it, and even won “People’s Choice” at a soup competition years ago. I know now why Dean Martin crooned over this dish, it was love at first bite … and that’s Amore!

4 thoughts on “JUSTIN WELSH: Food Muse — Pasta e Fagioli”

  • Therese December 3, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Hey Justin, happy to see you back on Unheralded.fish. This looks fantastic!

    1. Justin December 3, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      Thank you! I’ll be writing more now I am catching up with work.

  • Helen December 3, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    I order this soup at Olive Garden and love it so I am anxious to give this a try. I am a soup person. I find if I cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup at the end, I do not lose as much broth. Thanks

    1. Justin December 3, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      Cooking the noodles seperately is a great idea as well. When I make this soup at work, we always have cooked noodles somewhere. When I am at home, I add them to the soup. Smaller noodles cook quicker and I always add more stock to make up for liquid loss. I hope you try this version out and enjoy it at home!


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