Pasta e fagioli recipe

pasta e fagioli -

My Italian grandmother made pasta e fagioli with fatback (picture a giant slice of bacon without the meat), kidney beans and pasta.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Matter of fact, she made most of her meals with fatback:  scungilli and fatback, swiss chard and fatback pieces, chicken fried in fatback, fatback cooked in fatback.  It was cheap, tasty and pure Italian.  It wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I realized the culinary world did not revolve around fatback, Parmesan cheese and extreme amounts of garlic.  Don’t get me wrong.  Gramma’s pasta e fagioli was good.  But as a kid, giant chunks of bacon fat floating in my soup just didn’t thrill me.

This recipe, on the other hand, uses Italian sausage and a few slices of bacon to give it great taste. Gramma would be proud.

Pasta e Fagioli


  • 1-1/2 cups ditalini or small shell pasta
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (sweet or hot), casing removed
  • 3 strips bacon, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (16 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
  • In a large pot (6 to 8 quarts), cook bacon over medium-high heat, stirring often, until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.  Remove and place on paper towel to drain.
  • In same pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat and add sausage.  Cook until brown, crumbling sausage as it cooks.  Remove and place on paper towel to drain.
  • Add remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil to pot.  Stir in garlic, onion, carrots and celery.  Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, thyme, Italian sausage, bacon and 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in pasta and beans until heated through.

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