Pasta e fagioli—literally meaning pasta and beans—is a thrifty way to feed your family on a budget with a couple cans of beans, broth, and pasta. The soup's humble roots have morphed over the years with the addition of tomatoes, vegetables, and in this case meat. Adding ground sausage, as you’ll find with one taste of Olive Garden’s pasta e fagioli soup, brings it to the next level, making it worthy of main course status.
We’re fans of using what’s available in the pantry, but if you want to stay closer to tradition, ditalini (a bite-sized, tube-shaped pasta) is what you should seek out to make this pasta e fagioli recipe. Otherwise, any other small pasta, like elbow macaroni, is a fine substitute.
Sweet Italian sausage gets sautéed first in the skillet, adding an extra layer of flavor to the overall soup. If you can’t find uncased sausage filling, just slice and remove the casing from regular Italian sausages—and feel free to use hot sausage for a spicy version of this soup. You can even swap in ground beef if you prefer or cook whole sausages in the pot first, letting them simmer in the soup to cook fully, then slicing diagonally to serve. Even though this is a copycat version of Olive Garden’s pasta e fagioli, you can still put your own spin on it!
- 4 ounces ditalini pasta (or other small tube pasta, like macaroni)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1/2 pound sausage (sweet or spicy, casings removed and filling crumbled)
- 1 medium yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 2 medium carrots (diced)
- 2 celery ribs (diced)
- 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole-peeled plum tomatoes
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
- Garnish: Pecorino-Romano cheese (freshly grated)
Gather the ingredients.
Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside until ready to add to soup.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Heat the remaining oil in the same pot over medium-high. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook until fragrant and onion is slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Use kitchen scissors to cut the tomatoes in the can until finely chopped. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and cooked sausage to the pot and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the beans to the pot, and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta and parsley. Ladle soup into deep bowls and serve with grated cheese on the side.