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February 21, 2011

Recipe for restaurant-style pasta e fagioli

Pasta e fagioli

I've slurped pasta e fagioli in restaurants from Italy to Boston's most Italian neighborhood, the North End (where it is called, and I kid you not, pasta fazool), but I've never eaten at an Olive Garden restaurant. So, the first time I tasted their recipe for the classic bean-and-pasta soup was a couple of weeks ago, when Theresa brought her version of it to our Soup Swap. The ratio of beans and pasta to liquid (in this case, mostly spaghetti sauce) bears no resemblance to the real thing, and the ground beef comes as a surprise, but there's no denying that this red-sauce-in-a-bowl is a great soup. It's not really pasta e fagioli -- except that it contain pasta and beans -- but I had seconds and loved every spoonful. Kids will find this soup hard to resist, too.

Restaurant-style pasta e fagioli

Makes 4 quarts; adapted by Theresa from CDKitchen.


1-1/2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
6 oz chopped onion 
7 oz carrots, slivered
7 oz diced celery
24 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked (or canned, rinsed and drained) red kidney beans
2 cups cooked (or canned, rinsed and drained) white kidney beans
44 oz beef stock
1-1/2 tsp oregano
1-1/4 tsp fresh black pepper, or to taste
1 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp Tabasco-type hot sauce, or to taste
24 oz store-bought or homemade marinara sauce
4 oz dry small pasta (shells, elbows, ditalini or other)


In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat the oil and sauté beef until it starts to brown. Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, parsley, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, and pasta. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until celery and carrots are tender, about 35-40 minutes.

Serve hot, or let cool completely and pack in containers for the freezer.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Susan @ SGCC | February 21, 2011 at 05:12 PM

We called it pasta fazool down in the Bronx too. But ours was never really a soup - more like a stew. There's an Olive Garden a few blocks from my house in FL and I've had this dish many times. While not authentic, it is quite good.

Posted by: Kalynskitchen | February 21, 2011 at 08:08 PM

Everyone in my family loves that soup. I haven't had it at Olive Garden, but the list of ingredients sounds like it would taste great to me!

Posted by: Lydia | February 21, 2011 at 11:19 PM

Susan, I didn't know pasta fazool had any meaning outside New England. I've never been tempted to go to Olive Garden, but I can see why people love this soup.

Kalyn, this soup might get me to an Olive Garden one of these days. The soup is delicious, if not authentic.

Posted by: Honey K | February 25, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Made this last night and added some smashed garic and smoked lemon drop pepper to it. Certainly not authentic but it is a keeper. We loved it.

Posted by: meals for toddlers | February 23, 2012 at 07:56 AM

I am really excited about tonight's recipe, as we are going to have 'pasta e fagioli', yummy!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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