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Creamy Pasta Fagioli Soup

4.64 from 19 votes

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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.

Photo of a white bowl  and a spoon, serving creamy white bean and pasta soup with kale.)

This is super-delicious pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans!) soup that’s a few steps up from the one I loved as a kid, right next to creamy homemade tomato soup.

My version makes a tasty vegetarian lunch or dinner meal that will satisfy all types of hungry appetites, carnivorous or otherwise.

Pasta fagioli is a perfect meal to pull magically out of your pantry. We always called this soup “pasta fazool” when I was growing up, but my mom definitely did not put cream or kale in it!

Adding kale to the usual pasta e fagioli soup makes for a nutritious, healthy meal. And the cream is another way to add a touch of decadence to a humble bean soup.

Image of a white bowl  and a spoon, serving creamy white bean and pasta soup with kale.

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. It’s a world away from something you’d order at Olive Garden.

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.

Minestrone is not the same as pasta fagioli

Unlike a dish like minestrone soup, authentic pasta e fagioli isn’t a vegetable soup, per se. It’s traditionally made with just beans, tomatoes, broth and sometimes pork for extra flavor.

Ingredients in pasta e fagioli soup

This dish uses:

Ingredients for Creamy Instant Pot Pasta Fagioli with Kale

Making pasta e fagioli in a pressure cooker

The pasta, beans and seasonings come together deliciously — and quickly! — right on the stovetop, and even faster in a 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.

Using dried pasta in soup

Use your favorite small pasta shape, such as ditalini, shells or elbows. You might be skeptical about throwing uncooked dry pasta in the pot along with everything else.

I was too at first, but under high pressure or just boiling on the stove, 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 I suggest you go for it!!)

To make this soup have a creamy texture without using dairy: Scoop out 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.

Creamy Instant Pot Pasta Fagioli with Kale

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.

Tuscan kale’s sturdy leaves are great to use raw in a lemony salad with roasted chickpeas, and they also hold up nicely when cooked, like as a pizza topping or thrown in hearty soups.

Elevate your pasta e fagioli soup with these pro tips:

  • 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.
  • Storing and reheating the soup: The pasta fagioli keeps in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, but it may thicken a bit in the fridge. Add a bit more water or broth when preparing leftovers. Freeze fully cooled portions of the soup in containers. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave with extra broth or water to loosen the texture.

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Creamy Pasta Fagioli Soup with Kale

Karen Tedesco
This creamy, hearty pasta e fagioli soup is loaded with beans, vegetables and cheese. It's vegetarian and ready to enjoy in about 30 minutes (use a pressure cooker or cook it on the stovetop). Perfect for lunch or dinner!
Print Pin
4.64 from 19 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Additional Time 20 mins
Total Time 37 mins
Course Soup and Stew
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 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 (950 g) cans cannellini beans (including their liquid)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or rosemary
  • ½ 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
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream, optional
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions 

Stovetop Directions:

  • 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.

Pressure cooker instructions

  • 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.
  • Stop the saute function. 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.

To serve

  • Serve in bowls, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese to taste.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

Tip: 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.
Storage: The pasta fagioli keeps well for days, but it may thicken a bit in the fridge. Add a bit more water or broth when preparing leftovers.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 631mg | Potassium: 555mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 741IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe? Mention @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Instagram

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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7 Comments

  1. this is beaming me back to the past so very many years ago but what a memory of my life, the people I loved and still are in my heart, this was a lunch soup eaten with some meat and salad later on and a glass of red wine. many thanks.💓☕

  2. Just made this, and it’s really, really good! The parmesan rind is key for adding more flavor. I used half and half instead of cream because that’s what I had, and it turned out great. I also threw in a carrot for added veggies and it cooked perfectly right along with the rest of the ingredients. This is a keeper!

    1. Hi Rachel – So glad this turned out great for you! And nothing wrong with more veggies, right?

  3. Loraine Bundy says:

    Karen, I’ve made this 3 times this week. My family is crazy about it, including my 9 year old grandson. Fabulous recipe.

  4. Karen, this is a delicious soup! Thanks for a great IP recipe!!