Start With Canned Bean Soup For Shortcut Pasta E Fagioli

There's no shame in taking shortcuts when cooking, especially when you're making weeknight dinners in between a million other tasks on your to-do list. When it comes to making pasta e fagioli (an Italian pasta and bean soup) in particular, feel free to embrace shortcuts. Between the two main ingredients, broth, spices, and canned tomatoes (or tomato paste), this dish is already a champion of pantry staples. And yet, there's an easy way to shorten your ingredient list and simplify your cooking process: by using canned bean soup.

Borlotti or cannellini beans are staples in this dish, so try to find a canned soup that incorporates either of these varieties — although any white bean version should do the trick. Many of these canned soups already incorporate the other veggies you'll find in a pasta e fagioli recipe, like onion, carrots, and celery, so you can skip chopping up these fresh ingredients as well. Some even incorporate the beans and veggies into a tomato-based broth, so you'll have an even more solid foundation for creating your dish. Since several of these ingredients typically come from a can anyway, there's no harm in saving time building off of a premade bean soup.

Selecting and building on the right bean soup

While canned bean soup can make an excellent starting point for your pasta e fagioli, not all cans are created equal. Steer clear of soups with black or kidney beans, which aren't typically found in this Italian dish, as well as cans with any extra ingredients like corn, red peppers, or kale. You may, however, see white bean soups that include small chunks of bacon. While pancetta is typically the meaty addition incorporated into pasta e fagioli, bacon has a similar flavor profile as both are variations of pork belly. So, if you're not concerned with perfect authenticity here, feel free to use cans that contain bacon.

Once you've procured your ideal bean soup, take its components into consideration when deciding how to build on it. For instance, you can leave out any tomato derivatives if you already have a tomato-based broth. On the other hand, if yours is clear, you may want to add in a little tomato paste. If the canned soup is lacking either veggies or meat, feel free to throw in some diced onion, carrot, or celery, or chopped, cooked pancetta. And, of course, any bean soup will need cooked ditalini pasta added to it to make it a true pasta e fagioli. Finish off by freshening up your dish with some rosemary, sage, thyme, or parsley.