Needing something delicious to serve on your table super FAST?
With your Instant Pot or pressure cooker you can prepare our family’s Pasta e Fagioli Italian Soup in no time and enjoy a truly humble, simple, yet packed-with-flavor soup. Served with cheesy garlic toast and a leafy, green salad, you’ve got an incredibly delicious hearty meal in a snap and a breeze!
Our family loves Pasta e Fagioli Soup so much that we make huge batches to freeze. This way we can grab some when our super-slammed schedules prevent us from preparing time-consuming dinners. And that happens a lot with me working full time plus my extremely long 1-½ hour commute home every night.
We know that this traditional Italian soup will become one your perennial favorites too!
You know, frankly speaking to you here, we always read (and often find it very amusing) the many iterations of classic Italian recipes posted on the Internet . . . particularly those recipes created in attempts to copy an American restaurant chain’s very “un-Italian/un-authentic” pasta e fagioli soup. Yes, it’s OK to prepare a quasi-Italian soup that you enjoy, but the truth is, those recipes are not authentic to Italy. Those recipes are nothing more than “American-ized” just as many Mexican food restaurant recipes are prepared in American chain Mexican eateries. In fact if you visit Italy, there is not one quality ristorante or trattoria that will prepare the American dish known as Spaghetti and Meatballs or Chicken Parmigiana, to name just a few.
But you come to our blog for the real deal where we are honored to share recipes from the source . . . recipes that go way back through the centuries in our Italian family. No recipe on this blog is from a commercial restaurant in attempts to try to please the masses.
We only include authentic, Italian family recipes for you here. Period. If you want the “Garden restaurant’s” recipes, please scroll through the web to find those. But here, you’ll find the real deal which we will testify is MUCH MORE DELICIOUS than any other restaurant copy-cat recipe you’ll find out there! Seriously and ’nuff said!
We’ve also included in the recipe card, some variations that you can select from that veer away from my family’s classic and basic foundational recipe. It’s hard to imagine, but many Italian recipes that are enjoyed today come from centuries-old, impoverished methods of cooking in order to simply survive in Italy before coming to America. Our family is no exception to preparing delicious yet so humble recipes in the mountains of Northern Italy!
For example, our mother and Nonna never added carrots, never added sausage, never added wine, never used chicken broth, and never infused seasonings in the soup either. We don’t know who came along and started to add those extras, possibly thinking that somehow more is better . . . but this is NOT the case with Italian food, which is ALWAYS the best when prepared with as close as you can get to minimal ingredients.
We’re providing you photo step-by-step instructions in addition to the recipe card at the bottom of this post. We have always learned better through watching our mother and nonna, so we hope that you find these helpful.
So let’s go to the kitchen and get cooking friends!
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For ease and enjoyment in your cooking, always prep and chop up all of your veggies beforehand.
For this recipe, bring out that handy, dandy pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
Plug it in and set it on “Saute”. . . allow the pot to preheat until it beeps.
Next pour in the olive oil and toss in the butter.
Put the chopped onions and minced garlic in the hot oil and butter to saute for a few minutes until fragrant. REMEMBER: Garlic burns easily so keep a sharp eye on this step so that it isn’t burned . . . you’d have to start all over again and that would be a major bummer!
** A very important note about celery!! ALWAYS include the leaves of the celery bunch . . . Never, EVER cut these off and throw away. For this soup we found an especially bountiful leafy bunch in the market . . . sometimes there are hardly any leaves on a bunch of celery. There’s an incredible amount of flavor in those leaves just begging to added to your recipes! Trust us on this one! Our mammas and nonn(e) told us so! And no one messed with those cooks in the kitchen!
Add the celery to the pot. This is one of our favorite steps in Italian cooking . . . looking at the beautiful color of fresh celery!
At this point add diced pancetta. You can also add it before the celery as well. Either way, the flavor of this magnificent pork will infuse everything in the pot.
Add 2 12-ounce cans or 3 – 4 small cans of tomato paste (use imported Mutti available on Amazon — it is truly that much better than the domestic brands. Do a comparison in the color alone and you’ll understand why our family in Italy only uses Mutti tomatoes).
Add water at least double the amount of the tomato paste. . . at first. We add more water as we go so that a more of soupy / broth consistency results that we prefer. This is not a stew, so you don’t want it too thick. Plus you don’t want the tomato paste too be overpowering. All of the flavors of beans, veggies, pasta and tomatoes should shine through when you take a spoonful in your mouth. You’ll know how you like it after playing with it.
Add 3 (12-0z) cans of drained and highly rinsed (3 times minimum) dark red kidney beans, or 6 cups of dried red kidney beans that have soaked in water overnight according package directions (But we can tell you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with using canned beans).
Sorry for the blurry photo . . . one of our cats bumped into us while taking the photo and only one shot was taken. Oops, just proving that we’re not so perfect! Humility is good for all of us!
Turn the Instant Pot on the “Soup” setting for 30 minutes.
After the 30 minutes of the soup cooking are over, the Instant Pot will beep. Turn the valve to “VENT” to release the pressure. Carefully release the pressure without burning your hands, until the steam dies down for about 7 – 8 minutes.
Once the pressure is released, carefully open the lid “away from you” and add 2 – 3 cups of dried pasta (using the shape of your choice). Traditionally ditalini are used, but you can also use mini farfalle, mini shells, or broken up spaghetti noodles. The only thing to consider is that you use a smaller pasta shape.
There are excellent imported Italian pasta brands, but we use Barilla simply because it’s produced in our home town of Italy (Modena, Italy) and produced in the United States in our home town of Ames, Iowa. So we’re sort of prone to our hometown brand.
** Add more water to the Pot if you see that it is necessary after the beans have soaked up some of the water.
OK, our ancestors didn’t include any herbs or seasonings in this handed-down recipe for Pasta e Fagioli Soup. But we decided to add 1 teaspoon (only) of freshly minced sage. Nothing else. A tiny amount of a very softly-flavored herb. Bay leaves and rosemary are far too potent for this delicious soup. You don’t want the main ingredients to be overpowered. We love sage in Italian recipes and it’s truly delicious (and minimal) in this soup!
Before placing the lid back on for another 5 – 8 minutes, add a chunk or two of fresh parmigiana reggiano cheese to the soup to give it an absolutely wonderful essence of cheesy flavor! This is an incredible secret that most chefs and home cooks don’t consider . . . it makes an amazing difference in the depth of flavor of this peasant soup!
I turn the Instant Pot on warm since the soup is still so hot, the pasta will cook anyway. After 5 – 8 minutes check on the pasta for how it has cooked thus far. If you want it cooked a bit more for your preference, then do so.
Pour your delicious new soup in a big bowl and don’t forget to top it off with freshly grated parmigiana cheese (in the next and final step).
When in Bologna, Italy this past summer during our visit to family in Modena, we picked up this wonderful cheese grater with wooden box! It’s so convenient in that it captures all of the grated cheese in the beautiful wooden box at the very moment of grating delicious cheese!
Yes, you guessed it, that’s the next step for this wonderful recipe: grate a bunch (we don’t measure) of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese to sprinkle on the top of your hot soup. Melted cheese sprinkled on top of a bowl of hot soup is simply DIVINE!
After all that you have done (that really wasn’t difficult at all, was it?), here is what awaits your guests and you . . . and they will be grateful that’s for sure!
To freeze this soup, prepare every step except for the adding the pasta. Once cooked, pasta does not freeze well at all and thaws out in a very mushy state. So freeze without the pasta. Then when you want this soup, take the frozen soup out of the freezer to thaw out and then heat up on the stove. On another stove burner, boil water in a deep pot. Add the pasta and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, until ‘al dente’ and not soft. Then add pasta to the hot soup. Pasta continues to cook in hot soup, so that’s why you don’t want to cook it until soft.
Until next time, keep your day beautiful and filled with deliciousness!
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- 4 Tbsp. olive oil
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 stalks of celery, PLUS the leaves, chopped
- (optional) 2 - 3 carrots, pealed and chopped
- 4 oz. diced Italian pancetta (optional)
- 2 12-oz. cans Tomato Paste (or 3 - 4 of the smaller cans)
- Double the amount of water to tomato paste, continue to add water until a 'soupy' broth consistency is achieved.
- 3 12-oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
- (optional) 1 can cannilini beans, drained and rinsed well
- 3 cups Ditalini pasta or another small pasta shape
- (optional) 1 - 2 fresh leaves of sage, minced
- 1 - 2 2-inch chunks of fresh parmigiana reggiano cheese, cut into 1/4ths
- Freshly cracked salt to taste.
- Plug in the Instant Pot and set it on “Saute”. . . allow the pot to preheat until it beeps.
- Next pour in the olive oil and toss in the butter, warm up, but do not burn.
- Put the chopped onions and minced garlic in the hot oil and butter to saute for a few minutes until fragrant. REMEMBER: Garlic burns easily so keep a sharp eye on this step so that it isn’t burned . . . you’d have to start all over again and that would be a major bummer!
- Add the celery to the pot.
- Add diced pancetta (Optional -- vegetarians should leave this out).
- Add the tomato paste.
- Add water at least double the amount of the tomato paste. . . at first. We usually add more water as we go so that there’s more of soupy-broth consistency that we prefer. This is not a stew, so you don’t want it too thick. Plus you don’t want the tomato paste too be overpowering. You’ll know how you like it your consistency after playing with it.
- Add 3 (12-oz) cans of drained and highly rinsed (3 times minimum) dark red kidney beans, or 6 cups of dried red kidney beans that have soaked in water overnight according package directions.
- Turn the Instant Pot on the “Soup” setting for 30 minutes, place the lid on securely and allow the Pot to do its thing.
- After the 30 minutes of the soup cooking are over, the Instant Pot will beep. Turn the valve to “VENT” to release the pressure. Carefully release the pressure without burning your hands, until the steam dies down for about 5 minutes.
- ** Add more water to the Pot if you see that it is necessary after the beans have soaked up some of the water.
- Once the pressure is released, carefully open the lid “away from you” and add 2 – 3 cups of dried pasta (using the shape of your choice). Traditionally ditalini are used, but you can also use mini farfalle, mini shells, or broken up spaghetti noodles. The only thing to consider is that you use a smaller pasta shape.
- Add the minced sage (optional).
- Add 1 to 2 2-inch chunks of fresh parmigiana cheese.
- Place the lid back on and seal.
- Turn the Instant Pot on warm.
- Cook the soup with the pasta, sage, and cheese for about 5 to 8 more minutes.
- Carefully open the lid again and check on the doneness of the pasta, keeping in mind that you don't want soft, mushy pasta. Also the pasta continues to cook in a hot soup.
- Once again, check on whether you need to add some very hot water. You be the judge.
- Add salt to your taste preference.
- Remove any large chunks of cheese that may not have melted completely in the soup.
- Ladle the soup into bowls garnished with freshly grated parmigiana cheese.
- Serve the soup with a side salad, crusty bread and enjoy!
- Buon Appetito and Mangia!
- Italian cooking is famous for the ability to attain superior flavor with the least amount of high quality ingredients. This is a recipe that is a perfect example of that culinary philosophy!
- If you plan to freeze this or serve the next day, leave out the pasta and cook on the side and then combine when you are ready to enjoy. This prevents the pasta from getting overcooked and mushy.
- Serve the soup with a side salad, crusty bread and enjoy!