Fagioli Soup (a.k.a bean soup), is a hearty and healthy bean broth, rich in flavor and extremely adaptable. Although delicious on its own, I will share variations of how to enjoy this typical winter dish at home!
Hi, my name is Mariska Ramondino from Mychefsapron, and I am so happy to share with you a classic yet versatile Italian recipe from my childhood. Thank you, Alexandria for letting me drop in for a day!
A Little Background
When half of your family is Italian, you can’t escape growing up with classic Italian dishes such as Fagioli. This recipe always brings up fond memories of weekday visits at my grandmother’s house who would have a simple yet delicious meal ready—fagioli was often one of them because it is my dad’s favorite.
My Italian side of the family is from the South of Italy, Porte Salvo de Vibo Valencia (region of Calabria). A lot of the traditional homemade dishes feed a large family and leftovers are always creatively used to make a new meal. I do not doubt that there are many variations of making Fagioli, but I share with you the different ways I still remember my late grandmother making it in her tiny kitchen.
Traditionally, we make this soup with dried white cannellini beans. Although you can opt for canned beans for ease, I highly recommend soaking dried beans overnight for this recipe—you won’t regret it!
I always make a big batch of this bean soup. It keeps in the refrigerator for up to one week. You can also store it in smaller portions to freeze quickly and only defrost what you need. When reheated, its texture becomes thicker and its taste heartier. You can easily add vegetable broth, leftover tomato sauce or canned tomatoes if you prefer a thinner texture. Don’t forget to always add salt to taste.
PASTA E FAGIOLI
Traditionally this bean broth is paired with ditalini—tiny, tubed-shaped pasta. We also sometimes use tubettini or conchigliette pasta. Stick to a smaller pasta shape because, in my opinion, it adds to the taste of the bean broth. I always make fresh pasta and serve the desired amount with the Fagioli. I won’t recommend refrigerating or freezing the pasta with the soup, because the noodles become soggy and tasteless. At home, we like the cooked pasta to retain some bite (al dente). Serve with grated Parmesan cheese!
BIETOLE AND TOMATOES
My grandmother used to add leafy greens like Swiss Chard (Bietole). She stirred them into the bean soup at the end of cooking time for a few minutes (until soft). Leftover basic tomato sauce or chopped cherry tomatoes also enhanced and differentiated the flavors of the soup. They usually were also added when making the Pasta e Fagioli.
This variation was a typical winter dish at my dad’s childhood home and his favorite still to this day. Pan-fry thin bone-in center-cut pork chops in some olive oil over medium heat on both sides for three to five minutes (depending on the thickness of the chops). When the meat cooks through and turns golden brown, place individually in the center of soup plates. Serve with a soup ladle of warmed Fagioli on top and a large green salad on the side—a very filling and comforting meal.
OLIVE OIL AND PARMESAN CHEESE
In the end, this bean broth is rich in flavor because of the simple ingredients such as garlic, basil leaves, fresh little tomatoes and the richness of good quality olive oil. When you prepare this over the weekend, this soup is quickly reheated during busy winter evenings. A tad of extra olive oil and the heartiness of some grated Parmesan cheese is all you need to bring this bean broth back to life and enjoy a healthy and filling dish!
As my grandmother used to say, Mangia, Mangia, enjoy!
OTHER FAVORITE RECIPES FROM MY CHILDHOOD
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Mariska Ramondino is the content creator at www.mychefsapron.com (a food and wellness blog), a recipe developer, food photographer. She is also the author of Cooking My Way Home, a beautiful collection of 85 timeless family recipes from her childhood and drawn from her Italian heritage with beautiful photography and short anecdotes.
- 1 pound/455 grams dried white cannellini beans
- Salt and black pepper
- Olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in thirds
- 1 pound/455 grams small red cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 3 fresh basil leaves, shredded
- Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover them.
- When ready to make the soup, drain the beans and discard the water in which they were soaked.
- Place the beans in a large pot and cover them completely with fresh water (about 1 1/2 qt or 1 1/2 L). Set the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low or low to maintain a steady simmer.
- Partially cover the pot and cook for about 1 1/2 hours total or until soft. Skim off any foam that appears. Check the beans occasionally and add a little fresh water if too much boils away. The beans should stay covered with water.
- When 1 hour and 15 minutes have passed and the beans have begun to soften, season well with salt and a little pepper. Continue to gently cook the beans and further soften them while preparing the tomatoes.
- Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 10 seconds, or until the garlic releases its aroma, but does not brown.
- Toss in the cherry tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. At the end of simmer time, stir in fresh basil.
- Pour the tomatoes and their juices into the beans. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil for a richer texture. Stir well and let the soup gently simmer for 5 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, and let it rest on stove for a couple of minutes, covered, to thicken a little.