Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Soups»Italian»Pasta»Italian Pasta and Bean Soup Pasta E Fagioli Recipe

The American version of pasta e fagioli is often bland and mushy and takes hours to prepare. We wanted it all: great flavor and proper texture in less than an hour.

The Problem

Americanized versions of pasta e fagioli -- often called pasta fazool -- usually disappoint. Typically, the beans have no flavor, the pasta is mushy, the broth is too tomatoey, and the soup is bland.

The Goal

Pasta fazool should be hearty and thick, almost stew-like, each spoonful laden with pasta and beans. The soup should be full of harmonious flavors, with no one taste standing out.

The Solution

Start with pancetta or bacon, and sauté the vegetables in the rendered fat. Add diced tomatoes and canned beans together so they absorb the most flavor, and use a 60/40 ratio of chicken broth and water (with a Parmesan cheese rind to boost flavor). Finish with parsley and minced anchovies.