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Traditional Pasta e Fagioli

Any bean will work in this pasta and bean soup, but tubed pasta or shells make for the best mouthfuls.

  • Servings: 8

Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 2005


  • 3 cups dried small white beans, such as risina or navy
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 garlic cloves (2 minced, 2 crushed)
  • 1 small dried red chile, crumbled
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary, plus more, finely chopped, for garnish
  • 1 bay leaf (preferably fresh)
  • 8 to 9 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup shredded peeled carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise (3 cups)
  • 2 cups small pasta shells
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Cover beans with cold water in a large bowl. Transfer to the refrigerator, and let beans soak 8 hours (or overnight). Drain.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil and the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat until butter is melted. Add onion, celery, and crushed garlic; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in beans, chile, rosemary sprig, and bay leaf.

  3. Gradually stir in 8 cups stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Simmer soup until beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (time varies depending on bean).

  4. Process carrot, minced garlic, parsley, and remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oil in a food processor until vegetables and herbs are finely chopped.

  5. Stir the Swiss chard and pasta into soup. Cook until pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. If soup seems too thick, thin with remaining cup stock to desired consistency. Discard bay leaf. Season soup with salt and pepper. Stir in carrot mixture, and garnish with chopped rosemary.

Cook's Notes

Italian risina beans have a nutty flavor. Navy beans are a fine substitute. Either will need to soak for eight hours, so plan accordingly.

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