Pasta Fagioli, Italian Soul Food

| January 16, 2013

Pasta Fagioli (meaning pasta and beans) aka “pasta fazool” in Italian American vernacular started as a vegetarian peasant food.  The commonly used ingredients include beans, onions, carrots and celery along with tomato sauce and spices.  These ingredients vary by season and region.

As the dish has evolved, each area added it’s own personal touch such as cranberry beans and pork in the Venetian version, cannellini beans in the Tuscan version and our own American preference of white beans.

This wonderful “Italian comfort food” is both filling and nutritious and embodies the heart and soul of  satisfying Italian food.

The Dean Martin song “That’s Amore” and the movie “Moonstruck” immortalized pasta fazool when Dean sang “When the stars make you drool, just like pasta fazool, that’s amore!”

I hope you fall in love with my delicious version, which adds pancetta, fennel and dandelion greens to add depth and flavor.  Enjoy!



Pasta Fagioli



  • ¼ cup chopped celerypasta fagioli
  • ¼ cup chopped fennel
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 head fresh dandelion greens, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 rind of parmesan reggiano
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 ounces pancetta, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 (14 1/2 ounce) cans white kidney beans(cannellini), drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup farfalle (preferably vegetable based)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil



Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add pancetta and allow to brown for about 5 minutes. Add onion, celery and fennel and allow it to sweat until it is tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in thyme. Add broth, 2-1/2 cans of beans, and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease heat to medium and simmer until veggies are very tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree remaining beans in a blender with garlic and 2 tablespoons of fresh basil until smooth. Before putting puree back into soup, add dandelion leaves farfalle and boil with lid on until tender but still firm to bite, about 8 minutes. Return puree to the soup and stir well. Season soup with salt and ground black pepper to taste. Remove parmesan rind and bay leaf before serving

Ladle soup into bowls. Sprinkle with some Parmesan just before serving.

Serve with crusty ciabetta bread.


Makes 6 hearty servings


Charlotte Goldblatt