Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Pasta e Fagioli Soup of Olive Garden fame, uses handy pantry staples to make but tastes like you’re out for a fun Italian dinner.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup of Olive Garden fame, uses handy pantry staples to make but tastes like you're out for a fun Italian dinner.

Don’t you just love going to Olive Garden for all you can eat soup, salad, and breadsticks? It’s seriously one of my favorite lunches.

These days, I’m not eating out much, nor is most of the country. So, getting little bits of restaurant-style food from my own kitchen is a real treat.

This Pasta e Fagioli Soup is just the thing. It’s rich and flavorful, reminds me of the restaurant soup, and it uses pantry ingredients, which I seem to have a lot of right now.

The recipe below has some optional ingredients in it. This is because I have tweaked the recipe to be adaptable to what you have on hand. If you don’t have bacon, you can use diced ham, kielbasa, or any cooked meat you happen to have. Or you can skip the meat. As to the optional veggies, if you have some onion, celery, etc. you can add those near the beginning. If you don’t have the veggies, and if you don’t have any meat either, that’s totally fine. Just skip steps 2 and 3.

Similarly, the recipe calls for cannellini and lima beans, but you can use whatever canned legumes you have. Anything from pinto to kidney to chickpeas will work here.

To bulk up the nutrients in the soup, you can add some drained canned vegetables as well. I usually only add carrots but other good additions would be corn, peas, or cut green beans.

Once you’ve ladled the soup into bowls, top it with a bit of cheese, if you have it. Some Parmesan or a sprinkling of mozzarella are perfect.

Really, I think this soup recipe shows how versatile your pantry can be, and how you can switch things up easily based on what you have.

A quick note about the pasta. If you’re planning to eat all of this soup right when it’s ready, they you can totally stir the cooked pasta into the soup. However, if you think you will have leftovers, I suggest that you keep the pasta and the soup separate. Otherwise, once they’ve sat together in the fridge for awhile, the noodles will soak up all the liquid and you’ll have a noodle stew more than a noodle soup.

I hope you love this recipe and that you’re enjoying our series on Pantry Dinners.


Christine xo


Quick Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Pasta e Fagioli Soup of Olive Garden fame, uses handy pantry staples to make but tastes like you’re out for a fun Italian dinner. If you don’t have bacon, you can use diced ham, kielbassa, or any cooked meat that you have, or you can leave out the meat entirely. Instead of the cannellini beans and lima beans, you can use whatever canned beans you have. I really like kidney and pinto beans in there as alternatives.
  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings


  • 2 cups mini shells (or other pasta with 6 minute cooking time)
  • 4 strips bacon, roughly chopped (optional)
  • Optional vegetables*
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups low or no-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dry thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. dry rosemary leaves
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can lima beans, drained
  • Optional canned vegetables**
  • Shredded or grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


  1. Cook mini shells according to package instructions, drain.
  2. Meanwhile, put a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon. Cook 2 minutes.
  3. Add any optional vegetables that you’re using, if any. Stir and cook until bacon is starting to crisp, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Into the large pot that is set over medium heat, put the crushed tomatoes, stock, garlic powder, thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir.
  5. Add cannellini and lima beans. Stir. Increase heat to high. Cover. Bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce to a simmer. Stir in canned vegetables, if using. Simmer 10 minutes.
  7. Put some cooked and drained pasta into soup bowls and top with hot soup. Garnish with Parmesan, if desired.


*If you have any onion, celery, bell pepper, or carrots, you can use these here. Add one or all or any combination of the following: 1 small onion (chopped), 2 ribs celery (chopped), 1 green bell pepper (chopped), 2 carrots (finely chopped).

**You can optionally add up to 2 cans of drained vegetebles, such as sliced carrots, corn, peas, or cut green beans.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Christine Pittman

Christine is the Senior Editor and Owner of The Cookful and of COOKtheSTORY and of the podcast Time Management Insider. Her sites reach over 2 million readers per month, which means that things can get a bit crazy. She's constantly writing, taking pictures, editing, recording, interviewing, managing contributors, and, oh yeah, cooking. To say that she wears many hats is an understatement - there are many hats, and also many shirts, shoes, pants, and even the odd cape!