Exploring vegan, vegetarian and sustainable cooking

Pasta and bean soup

Pasta e fagioli

Source: La Terra Fortunata

Pasta e fagioli, a hearty Italian bean coup, was a dish my grandmother made often when I was a child. So it was fitting that it was my first recipe from the book La Terra Fortunata, which explores the cuisine of the Friuli Venezia-Giulia region of Italy.

This dish was originally a peasant dish, and upon eating it, it’s clear why. The soup is primarily beans and typically vegetarian (though this version uses pancetta for flavour) so it’s very inexpensive. But it’s heavy and satisfying. You could serve a small portion as a first course, but it can just as easily serve as a main course, or an entire meal.

If you want to make the dish vegetarian, you could easily omit the pancetta, but you’ll miss out on the depth of flavour it provides. But either way, this is a great winter soup.

I served this as a second course, following veal tongue.

With a few caveats, the pasta e fagioli recipe from La Terra Fortunata is excellent. First, hold back on the salt. I started with about 1.5 Tbsp salt (versus the 3 Tbsp in the recipe) and that was plenty. Second, while the recipe calls for only a judicious amount of the bean cooking liquid to be returned to the soup, I used a fair bit. Don’t be afraid to do the same.

Finally, at least in my neck of the woods, nobody refers to the beans for this recipe as “cranberry beans” as the recipe specifies. Look instead for “romano beans.” They’re both names for the Italian “borlotti” bean.

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  1. Theresa Greene August 26, 2012

    I am thanking my lucky stars that I have finally found a picture of the Pasta e Fagioli that I am used to eating. My father was stationed at Aviano when I was a teenager and we used to eat your version at the local restaurants there. I have been looking for the recipe for the last 20 years. Can you please forward me your recipe so I can share this wonderful dish with my children?

    Thank you,

    Theresa Greene

  2. Matthew August 26, 2012

    Hi Theresa – Thank you for your comment. I’ll contact you by email with the recipe.

  3. lb January 22, 2013

    can you forward this recipe…..very excited to make this. Looks just like my mom’s RIP

  4. Desiree Pacino January 27, 2016

    Hi I have been searching for a pasta fagioli that is similar to my mothers/grandmothers. This looks fairly close. Can you please forward me this recipe. Thank you

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