Pasta Fagioli is a super simple and satisfying one-pot meal. This vegetarian version incorporates a hefty dose of beans, veggies and pasta into a satisfying and kid-friendly dish that’s ready in just 30 minutes.
Mondays tend to be a meatless night in our house and often a night when I try to use up whatever odds and ends we have in the house after a weekend of cooking. Pasta Fagioli, which is a traditional Italian peasant food, is a great way to do both. It incorporates two things I always have in my pantry: canned beans and dried pasta, with whatever veggies I have hanging out in the fridge. Its amazing how much flavor you can coax out of a bunch of random veggies after a long sauté and the addition of some Italian seasoning. From there you just add a can of diced tomatoes and some boxed broth.
The quality of the broth really makes a difference here since the dish is so simple. While homemade is best, I realize that isn’t always possible. As it happens, I recently attended a food conference where I sampled a brand of prepared boxed broth I was previously unaware of. The brand is called Aneto Naturals. They are a family owned company based in Spain and they are the only company I’ve come across that makes their broth exactly how you would at home.
As someone who spent a great deal of time in culinary school learning how to make a proper broth and how important it is as a foundation to your food, I was really impressed by their product. The difference in quality is really evident in both the smell and flavor versus most of the broths I’ve seen in the supermarkets. I don’t mean to sound like an ad here — I received a couple of sample boxes of broth at the conference but am not being compensated in any way to share this information. I was just truly and significantly impressed by their product. At this point, the brand isn’t widely available in-store in the US but you can find them on Amazon. I’ll be using their broth moving forward and definitely recommend checking them out.
Anyway, getting back to this soup. I was initially going to share this one as a slow cooker meal, but the reality is, it comes together soooooo fast, its almost pointless to pull out your slow cooker (and thats coming from me, the slow cooker addict). You have lots of wiggle room here to use whatever ingredients you have in the house (add some meat if you want, use different noodles as desired, switch out the veggies, etc). The only thing I really, really can’t stress enough is to throw in a small chunk of parmesan cheese rind while the soup is simmering. That little rind of cheese adds a TON of flavor to the soup. Don’t skip it. I hoard cheese rinds in our freezer just for this occasion.
Vegetarian Pasta Fagioli
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 small crookneck or zucchini squash, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 parmesan cheese rind, apx 1″ square
6 ounces short pasta such as macaroni or ditalini
2 cans cannelloni beans or 1 can each cannelloni and kidney beans, drained
1/3 cup frozen chopped spinach (optional)
Salt, pepper and grated parmesan cheese to taste
- Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and squash and cook until veggies soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more.
- Add Italian seasoning, tomatoes, vegetable broth, water and parmesan cheese rind. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer soup for about 10 minutes to let flavors bloom.
- Add pasta and cook according to package instructions until barely al dente (5-8 minutes depending on the pasta you’ve chosen).
- Add beans and spinach and cook for 2 minutes more until evenly heated. Remove parmesan cheese rind. Season with salt and pepper and top with grated parmesan cheese to serve.