Pasta e Fagioli is Italian for “pasta and beans” and is universal for a warm, cozy vegetable soup. The Instant Pot makes quick work of this soup, starting with dried beans and cooking everything together into a fragrant, rich broth.
A few days ago we noticed that one of our six-year-olds (looking at you, Clara) had created her own method for convincing two-year-old June to try new things. She tells June that everything tastes like marshmallows. Stuffed zucchini? Marshmallows. Beef and broccoli stir-fry? Marshmallows. Salmon with tomato vinaigrette? Yes…marshmallows. While this is not a great strategy for parents, it seems 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 this fall and winter have definitely been a season of soup for us.
And few soups are as cozy, classic, and hearty as Pasta e Fagioli. The Instant Pot has the obvious advantage of cooking this soup quickly, but it serves an even greater purpose here. When cooked from dried, white beans create a flavorful, savory broth. Cook the beans alongside aromatics, vegetables, and savory pancetta and you get a broth with incredible depth.
And it all takes under an hour. Here’s how to make it!
- 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. Chopped bacon will work fine as a 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.
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.
Cooking Pasta Separately from Soup
If you plan to have leftovers or want to freeze this soup, it’s a great idea to cook the pasta separately and add it to each bowl right before serving. The pasta will continue to soak up liquid as it sits in the soup and can become mushy.
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.
More Instant Pot Soup Recipes
Instant Pot Pasta e Fagioli
- 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker
- Cutting Board
- 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 chopped bacon)
- 8 ounces Carrots, diced
- 1 Onion, diced
- 3 stalks Celery, chopped
- 6 cloves Garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/2 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)
- Parmesan cheese, 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 pancetta, dried oregano, and dried thyme and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes more.
- Add kale / chard leaves, tomatoes (including liquid), stock, beans, and parmesan rind.
- 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.
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