It doesn't get more cozy than Instant Pot Italian Pasta e Fagioli Soup with tender beans, vegetables, and pasta in every bite. The Instant Pot makes quick work of this healthy soup, cooking everything together in a fragrant, tomato broth.
A few years ago, one of my six-year-olds (looking at you, Clara) created her own method for convincing her then two-year-old sister to try new things. She told June that everything tastes like marshmallows. Stuffed zucchini? Marshmallows. Beef and broccoli stir-fry? Marshmallows. Broiled Salmon? Yes...marshmallows. While this is not a great strategy for parents, it seemed to translate well in the kid-to-toddler communications.
Just like any house full of kids (or adults, for that matter), our house is full of conflicting food preferences. It’s nearly impossible to satisfy everyone all the time, but there are two consistent exceptions. Tacos and soup. I’ve mentioned our love of all things taco before, but around here, it is always soup season for us. And, if I have my way, all of those soups would be cooked in the Instant Pot.
While the pressure cooker is the king of easy meals (I'm looking at you, Instant Pot Chicken Pasta), I absolutely love the simplicity of compiling all of the ingredients for a cozy soup in one bowl, closing and locking the lid, and walking away. And if you also love that simplicity, you've come to the right place today! Here's how to make one of my favorite soups (it's even better than the version you might have had at Olive Garden)!
Soaking Beans Before Cooking in the Instant Pot
While you may be tempted to skip this step, it’s a good idea to soak dried beans in water before cooking them in the Instant Pot / pressure cooker. The beans will start to absorb a small amount of liquid as they soak which will help them to cook more evenly under pressure and minimize undercooked and / or split beans. This also helps to give you a little bit of wiggle room in case your dried beans are old and / or sat on the grocery store shelf for too long.
Why Cook Pasta e Fagioli in the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot has the obvious advantage of cooking this classic Italian soup quickly, but it serves an even greater purpose. When cooked from dried, white beans create a flavorful, savory broth and also soak up the cooking liquid. Cook the beans alongside aromatics, vegetables, and savory pancetta and you get a broth with incredible depth and flavorful, tender white beans.
How to Make It
- Soak the beans. Give them 8 hours to soak in room temperature water.
- Cook pancetta. Turn on an Instant Pot's saute function to normal / medium. Saute pancetta in olive oil until crisp and brown, 5 minutes.
- Cook aromatics. Add carrots, onion, celery, and garlic and saute until the vegetables are very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients. Add dried oregano, dried thyme, kale, tomatoes, vegetable stock, beans, and a parmesan rind. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
- Pressure cook. Close and lock the lid. Pressure cook on high for 35 minutes.
- Quick release the pressure.
- Turn on the Instant Pot's saute function to normal / medium. Add the pasta and simmer until tender. Season with some salt and black pepper.
- Serve soup with parmesan cheese on top!
- Dried Cannellini Beans - This recipe starts with dried beans for maximum flavor both in the broth and the beans themselves. Be sure to soak the beans in water first (see note below).
- Pasta - I like a small pasta shape in Pasta e Fagioli. Ditalini (pictured throughout this post) is my favorite, but any type will work. If you plan to have leftovers or want to freeze the soup, you can cook the pasta separately (see note below).
- Diced Pancetta - Look for pre-diced pancetta in the deli section to save time or order it from the deli counter and chop it yourself. Italian sausage makes a great substitute.
- Carrots, Onion, Celery, and Garlic - Finely dice these as they will get very soft in the soup and are better if they sort of melt in. With this long cook time, don’t expect to have firm pieces of vegetables at the end, but you’ll get a bit of their flavor in every bite.
- Dried Oregano and Dried Thyme - For simplicity, I used the dried version, but using fresh versions of these herbs is great too.
- Tuscan Kale or Chard - One of the things that gives this broth so much flavor and a hearty feel is the addition of greens that turn silky and smooth in the pressure cooker. I like either of these sturdy greens.
- Whole Peeled Tomatoes - These canned whole tomatoes can go right into the Instant Pot and will get meltingly soft as they cook. A good stir at the end of cooking will make sure they are fully broken apart and mixed into the soup.
- Parmesan Cheese and Rind - I love the savory flavor that parmesan cheese gives this soup. See below for more details on how to put that cheese rind to great use.
Cooking Pasta Separately from Soup
If you plan to have leftovers or want to freeze this hearty soup, it’s a great idea to cook the pasta separately and add it to each bowl right before serving. If you cook the pasta right in the soup, it will continue to soak up liquid as it sits in the soup and can become mushy over time.
Using Parmesan Rind in Soup
Adding parmesan rind to soup lends a rich, savory flavor. This is even more effective in the Instant Pot / pressure cooker where the pressure extracts flavor. You can slice the rind off a hunk of parmesan cheese and use that or, the next time you finish off a wedge of parmesan cheese, just freeze it to use in soup.
Parmesan rind is particularly great with the flavors of Pasta e Fagioli.
- Make it Gluten-Free - Use your favorite gluten-free pasta or just skip the pasta entirely.
- Make it Vegetarian - Skip the pancetta and saute vegetables in plain olive oil. You’ll still have great savory flavor from the parmesan rind. Be sure to use vegetable stock as the base of the soup.
- Add Vegetables - This is a great soup for using up any vegetables in the crisper that need to be used up. Bell peppers, zucchini, or tomatoes would all be delicious.
- Make it spicy - Add a little (or a lot) of spice with red pepper flakes when you add the dried oregano.
This is one of my favorite soups to freeze. You can freeze the soup without the pasta and add it later or go ahead and freeze the complete soup after it has been cooked. Let the soup cool completely and then transfer to an airtight container. Freeze for up to 4 months. See the recipe below for a printable label you can attach to the soup.
This soup is even better the next day after cooking, so feel free to refrigerate and reheat whenever you're ready for it.
More Instant Pot Soup Recipes
- Instant Pot Potato Leek Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Corn Chowder
- Instant Pot Baked Potato Soup
- Instant Pot All American Chili
- Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Instant Pot Pasta e Fagioli
- 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker
- 8 ounces Dried Cannellini Beans, soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours
- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling over top
- 5 ounces Pancetta, diced (see note; sub Italian sausage)
- 8 ounces Carrots, diced
- 1 Onion, diced
- 3 stalks Celery, chopped
- 6 cloves Garlic
- ½ teaspoon Dried Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 6 large Tuscan Kale or Chard leaves, roughly chopped (remove and discard stems before chopping)
- 1 15 ounce can Whole Peeled Tomatoes
- 6 cups Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- 1 Parmesan Rind (you just need a piece that is a couple inches long)
- 8 ounces Small Pasta (like Ditalini pasta)
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Crusty bread, for serving
- Soak beans: Before making the soup, soak the dried beans in water overnight or for at least 8 hours.
- Before cooking, drain beans.
- Turn on the pressure cooker’s sauté function to normal / medium. Add olive oil and then pancetta. Sauté for 5 minutes, until pancetta is starting to brown.
- To pancetta, add carrots, onion, celery, and garlic with a pinch of salt. Saute until vegetables are very tender, 10 to 12 minutes. (Note: If the vegetables start to brown before they are very tender, add a splash of water as needed.)
- Add dried oregano, dried thyme, kale / chard leaves, tomatoes (including liquid), stock, beans, and parmesan rind. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot (this will prevent the burn error).
- Pressure cook: Close and lock the lid. Set steam valve to Sealing. Cook on manual / high for 35 minutes.
- Manually release the pressure.
- Turn on the sauté function to normal / medium. When the soup is simmering, add in pasta and simmer until tender (check the package for recommended cooking time).
- Remove and discard the parmesan rind. Give the soup a good stir to break up any remaining pieces of tomato. Taste soup and season with some salt and pepper.
- Serve soup with some parmesan cheese on top and crusty bread.
I don’t own an Insta pot so how long does the soup need to cook in a regular Dutch oven pot? And are there any modifications? Thank you
You just need to simmer the soup in a Dutch oven for as long as it takes the beans to turn tender. Be sure to cover the pot with a lid so you don't lose too much liquid as it simmers. The beans can take around 2 hours to cook this way.