Pasta e Fagioli Soup {Better than Olive Garden’s}

September 13, 2018  ·  Published October 16, 2016

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The BEST Pasta e Fagioli Soup! And yes, it’s even better than Olive Garden’s!

This Italian style soup is loaded with hearty ground beef, fresh vegetables, creamy beans, tender pasta and delicious herbs all in a rich and savory broth.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup in a large white pot.

Homemade Pasta Fagioli Soup Recipe

This pasta fagioli recipe is a MUST that you can’t miss out on. It’s one of the ultimate comfort food and truly one of the best soups you’ll make!

Since sharing this soup 6 years ago it has become a reader favorite recipe. And of course a family favorite too – everyone in my family loves this soup!

You’ll love that it uses ingredients that are commonly kept on hand (do you store ground beef in the freezer like I do?), it has such a delicious satisfying flavor, it’s so hearty and it’s a dinner everyone agree on.

Plus this is super easy to make, nothing complicated here and it all comes together in one pot!

All around win! Try it and let me know how you like it.

What Does Pasta e Fagioli Mean?

The Italian term “pasta e fagoili” translates in English to pasta and beans. It’s a hearty soup consisting of plenty of the two.

Pasta e Fagioli Video Tutorial:

 

Image showing ingredients that go into pasta fagioli soup.

What Ingredients go into Pasta Fagioli?

  • Ground beef. Use at least 80% lean ground beef. You can also try it with half Italian sausage.
  • Olive oil. This is used for sauteing the veggies so you won’t need much.
  • Yellow onion, carrots, celery, garlic and parsley. These fresh vegetables add layers of flavor.
  • Canned tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, great northern beans, and low-sodium chicken broth. These canned ingredients make this a weeknight friendly recipe cutting way down on prep.
  • Sugar. This very small amount just balances the acidity of the canned tomatoes. If preferred you can omit it.
  • Dried oregano, basil, thyme, marjoram. If you don’t have all the different dried herbs then you can just use an Italian seasoning blend. Use 1 Tbsp.
  • Ditalini pasta. In a pinch another small pasta will work fine here like macaroni or even orzo.
  • Parmesan cheese. Shredded Romano will work great too.

Ladle full of copycat olive garden pasta fagioli soup.

How to Make Pasta Fagioli Soup:

  1. Cook beef in a pot, drain and transfer beef.
  2. Saute veggies in same pot.
  3. Add broth, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, sugar, dried herbs and beef.
  4. Simmer until veggies are tender.
  5. Cook ditalini.
  6. Add pasta and beans to soup warm briefly then stir in parsley.

Image showing steps of how to cook pasta fagioli in a pot.

How to Make Crock Pot Pasta Fagioli:

  1. Saute beef then add to crock pot. Saute onion then garlic and add to crock pot.
  2. Add remaining ingredients up to and including salt and pepper.
  3. Cook on low heat 4 hours. Cook pasta separately on stovetop near the end of cooking.
  4. Add beans and parsley to soup and serve warm.

Overhead image of pasta fagioli soup in a pot.

How to Store:

Store pasta e fagioli soup (separate from pasta) for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. I like to store in individual microwave safe containers to I can reheat individual portions straight from the fridge.

Can I Freeze Pasta Fagioli Soup?

Yes. It freezes really well for about 3 month in an airtight container (be sure to allow about 3/4-inch for liquid to expand at top of container). I usually store the soup and cooked pasta (tossed with a little olive oil) separately in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

How to Reheat:

Reheat soup in a pot on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Two servings of Pasta e Fagioli Soup in white serving bowls set over white plates. Served with french bread on the side.

Can I Cook the Pasta in the Soup?

If you plan on serving all the soup right away you can just cook the pasta in the soup (otherwise with leftovers the pasta gets soggy). It will take about 10 – 15 minutes of simmering and add 1 cup of water to make up for what it will absorb.

What Sides Go Well with Pasta Fagioli Soup?

Soup, salad and bread. Sounds like the perfect comfort food combination to me!

Pasta e Fagioli Soup
4.97 from 230 votes

Pasta e Fagioli Soup {Olive Garden Copycat Recipe}

This Pasta e Fagioli is one of my all time favorite soups and one of my most popular recipes! It's loaded with vegetables and brimming with Italian flavor. It's perfectly comforting, hearty and absolutely delicious!
Servings: 6 servings
Prep15 minutes
Cook35 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 14.5 oz cans low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water, then more as desired
  • 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry ditalini pasta
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • Finely shredded Romano or Parmesan cheese , for serving
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat, crumble in ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through. 
  • Drain fat from beef then transfer beef to a plate, set aside. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in same pot. 
  • Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute over medium-high heat until tender about 6 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. 
  • Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and cooked beef then season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft, about 15 - 20 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile prepare ditalani pasta according to directions on package, cooking to al dente.
  • Add cooked and drained pasta to soup* along with kidney beans and great northern beans. Thin with a little more broth or water if desired. 
  • Allow to cook 1 minute longer. Stir in parsley, serve warm with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Notes

*If you don't plan on eating all of the soup right away I recommend adding the pasta to individual servings. Otherwise pasta gets soggy and absorbs too much broth.
Nutrition Facts
Pasta e Fagioli Soup {Olive Garden Copycat Recipe}
Amount Per Serving
Calories 540 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 49mg16%
Sodium 718mg31%
Potassium 1616mg46%
Carbohydrates 70g23%
Fiber 13g54%
Sugar 12g13%
Protein 35g70%
Vitamin A 4375IU88%
Vitamin C 24mg29%
Calcium 150mg15%
Iron 8mg44%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.
Recipe first published October 5, 2012, last updated January 17, 2020.

 

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633 Comments

  • Ali

    Excellent. I added 1.5 cups of medium diced zucchini (lightly sautéed, cooked during the simmer) and it was a great addition to the soup and a lovely way to use summer harvest. I added 3-4 T. of hot sauce to the pot (not to the point it was hot, just to give it another layer of flavor) and used stevia to sweeten. Great call on the northern beans. So tender.

  • BoJe

    Soooo Good. I made it exactly as the recipe calls for. Such an easy recipe. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  • Brittney

    Do you know what the amount per serving is? It’s not on the nutrition facts. Thanks.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry I keep forgetting to measure in cups when I make it. It would be 1/6th of the finally yield.

  • Sue Berry

    This taste so close to Olive Garden’s soup. I love it. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I don’t have an Olive Garden near me and with the pandemic, I haven’t flown to FL for more than a year now. That’s where I normally get my pasta fagioli fix. This gave me my fix and now I can make it whenever I want. This is my favorite soup.

  • Michelle

    Fabulous recipe! This recipe has replaced a family favorite I have been making for 16 years. It is that good. Many thanks!

  • Jessica Miller

    The first time I made this recipe, I elected to forgo the sugar–the recipe turned out a little more watered down than I’d wanted as a result. The second time, I didn’t make the same decision…and it tasted EXACTLY like what Olive Garden serves. This recipe is wild and I’ll be keeping it on my rotation going forward.