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 {Olive Garden Copycat Recipe}

4.98 from 177 votes

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
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 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

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat, crumble in ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through. 

  2. Drain fat from beef then transfer beef to a plate, set aside. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in same pot. 

  3. Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute over medium-high heat until tender about 6 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. 

  4. Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and cooked beef then season with salt and pepper to taste. 

  5. 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. 

  6. Meanwhile prepare ditalani pasta according to directions on package, cooking to al dente.

  7. 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. 

  8. Allow to cook 1 minute longer. Stir in parsley, serve warm with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Recipe 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.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pasta Fagioli
Author: Jaclyn
Recipe first published October 5, 2012, last updated January 17, 2020.

 

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530 Comments

  • Julie M

    This is my 6-year-old’s favorite soup at Olive Garden and we always spend way too much when we go. Not only did she like this better than the restaurant’s, but it’s a lot less expensive than eating out. I will definitely be making this again and a lot. Thanks for giving us a much better and cheaper recipe. It was a huge hit in our house!

  • Shane

    Full of flavor! I added a Parmesan rind to mine as I let simmer in a crockpot for two hours before eating. Will definitely make it again!

  • Tina Poucher

    My FAVORITE places to eat soup –
    MY KITCHEN & OLIVE GARDEN!
    One time when I was very sick and wanted soup,
    My husband took a big Ball Jar w the lid and asked
    Olive Garden to fill er up!
    That was the sweetest surprise when he walked into
    My bedroom! Better than roses!
    I cook this recipe a lot! You will love it!
    Tina from Granbury, Tx

  • Wanda

    I give this recipe 5*. I have never left a review on a recipe until I made this one! It is absolutely delicious! I left out the marjoram because I didn’t have any, I was still delicious! Thanks for posting my family and I have enjoyed this soup!

  • Cindy

    I was very nervous because I did not have time to try this recipe before my party. It was a HUGE hit!!! I did not have the fresh herbs so I just bought the Italian seasoning mix which saved the day. If you are Celiac or Gluten Intolerant, like me, just add a gluten free pasta. I was trying to find a small pasta and Aldi’s is currently carrying fresh linguini gluten free noodles that cook in three minutes. I chopped them into small pieces and added them at the end. They cooked to perfection and did not get slimy or soggy. This recipe is now in my collection of go-to soups. Being gluten free is not an easy lifestyle because you have to make so many sacrifices and the alternatives never live up to what you gave up. This was my most favorite soup and I cried when I realized I could no longer go to my favorite restaurant anymore. So thankful to Cooking Classy! All my love and gratitude goes to you. I am now going to try the Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup and see how well that converts to gluten free. I have high hopes! Thanks, Again!!!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      You’re very welcome! So glad you were able to make it gluten free, thanks for the tips!

  • Kristen

    So yummy. Used dried herbs and skipped marjoram because I’ve never used it before. Absolutely delicious.

  • Annabelle Brewster

    I use chunky Ragu pasta sauce ,one small jar. No tomato sauce. 32 oz of beef broth instead of chicken. I do not add any spices they are in Ragu. I used spicy Italian or Dried tomato \ Basil. Add black pepper to taste .