Italian-style vegetarian pasta and bean soup with Parmesan cheese, white cannellini beans, Tuscan kale and tomatoes. This easy recipe can be made quickly in a pressure cooker or on the stovetop.
Here’s a rib-sticking hearty soup, a vegetarian recipe that will satisfy all types of hungry appetites, whether carnivorous or otherwise.
Pasta fagioli is a perfect meal to pull magically out of your pantry on a busy day.
Making Pasta e Fagioli in an Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker
If you have an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker you can make this recipe in minutes, leaving your hands free to make a salad to go with, or to just give you time to relax and get your bowl and spoon ready to dig in.
This is the electric pressure cooker I just bought and totally obsessed with right now.
No pressure cooker?
No worries — check the recipe notes below for easy directions to make this recipe on the stovetop in about half an hour.
When it’s cold outside, this soup tastes damn good, and feels especially warming and nourishing to eat.
A traditionally family-style Italian dish, pasta e fagioli — which literally translates to pasta and beans — satisfies on many levels.
What I love about this version is the comforting combo of carbs (pasta), protein (beans) and greens (healthy stuff) all mingled in a thick, creamy, cheesy broth.
Unlike a dish like minestrone, authentic pasta e fagioli isn’t a vegetable soup, per se, since it’s usually made with just beans, tomatoes and sometimes pork for extra flavor.
This Instant Pot or pressure cooker recipe is a vegetarian-friendly (meatless) Italian soup, but delivers loads of rich flavor nonetheless.
The pasta, beans and seasonings come together deliciously — and quickly! —in a pressure cooker.
If you’re skeptical about throwing uncooked dry pasta in the pot along with everything else like I was at first, know that under high pressure the starchy pasta, spices and beans create a tasty, thickened liquid base for the soup.
The soup has a really lovely thick texture all on its own, so feel free to skip the optional splash of heavy cream at the end (but why??).
For an easy way to add creamy texture without using dairy, remove and puree about a cup or so of the soup with a hand blender and stir back in, or blend for a few seconds right in the pot.
To round out the one-bowl-meal nature of the dish, I threw in some dark green leafy Tuscan kale for an extra boost of healthy goodness.
What’s Tuscan kale?
Tuscan kale, which is the exact same kale variously labeled as Lacinato, Cavalo Nero and Dinosaur kale, is a dark green variety that has crinkled leaves and a rich midnight green color.
It’s one of my favorite leafy green vegetables.
Tips for making this pasta e fagioli recipe:
- If you happen to have a parmesan rind on hand, go ahead and toss it in the pot. Parmesan rinds in soup dissolve and melt slightly, adding flavor and depth. Just fish it out and discard when finished cooking.
- While you don’t need to go all out, the texture of this pasta fagioli is extra luscious with a splash of heavy cream stirred in before serving.
- Try to use moist dry-packed sun dried tomatoes in this recipe if you can. If you only have oil-packed ones, just be sure to drain and pat them dry.
Creamy Instant Pot Pasta Fagioli with Kale
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup (110 g) dry-packed sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup (60 g) uncooked dried soup pasta, such as mini shells, ditalini or elbows
- 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (including their liquid)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper
- 5 cups (1250 ml) broth, vegetable or chicken or water
- Kosher salt
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind, optional
- 1 bunch Tuscan or curly kale, stemmed and chopped
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream, optional
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Press the "sauté" button on an electric pressure cooker and preheat on high heat. Once the insert is hot, add the olive oil and onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, pasta, beans, thyme, chili, broth, the cheese rind, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir together.
- Close and secure the lid of the pressure cooker and cook on high for 7 minutes, with a quick release when it's finished.
- Stir in the kale (it will wilt) and heavy cream if using. Taste and season with more salt if you like.
- Serve in bowls, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese to taste.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, pasta, beans, thyme, red pepper and broth or water. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes.
- Stir the pasta into the pot and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes.
- Stir in the kale and cream if using. Serve in bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.