Cooking From Your Pantry: Pasta Fagioli

Table set with bowl of pasta and cheese board

Posted April 30, 2020 by UVM Medical Center

Most of us have much more time at home these days than we used to, thanks to COVID-19, social distancing and restrictions on public gathering. We're also making fewer trips to the grocery store and are trying to buy ingredients that will last. But what exactly can you do with all those cans and boxes cluttering your pantry and bags of frozen goods stuffed in your freezer?

With a few common ingredients – or alternatives from your pantry, fridge or freezer – you can make pasta fagioli, a healthy, cost-effective soup that's delicious, comforting and great for leftovers!

Cooking more meals at home is a great way to save money and improve your health. Research shows that cooking just one more meal at home each week can significantly reduce your risk of many chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.

One of the best ways to ensure this success is to have a well-stocked kitchen. Here is a list of some of our favorite ingredients to have on hand:

  • Olive oil
  • Vinegars such as rice wine vinegar and balsamic
  • A variety of canned beans and canned tomatoes
  • Whole grains such as brown rice and barley
  • Pasta
  • Small amounts of key spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning
  • Some frozen fruits and vegetables – stock up whenever they're on sale
  • A small block of Parmesan cheese that can be grated sparingly
  • Fresh ingredients: garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes

As you run out of these staple items, keep a running grocery list on your fridge or a phone app.

A perfect example of a fast, yummy, and budget-friendly meal you can create with these basics is pasta fagioli. Make this dish even healthier by adding beans and greens such as kale, collards, or Swiss chard, or other vegetables you have on hand.

Here Is How it All Comes Together!

Pasta Fagioli (“Fazool”) with Greens — and Ingredient Alternatives



Olive oil for sauteing

Any oil

1 lb whole wheat pasta, any kind

Any pasta, whole grain or not

Approximately 1 lb fresh or frozen collard greens

Any green, spinach, kale, or collards – fresh or frozen. You can also omit greens or add other fresh or frozen vegetables.

1 medium onion, chopped

Dried onion

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped or minced

Dried garlic

1-2 cans (15 oz) beans, any kind, drained

Any firm beans

2 cans (14 oz) low sodium vegetable broth

Any stock or water

Approximately 1/2 Cup wine, red or white

Any stock or a splash of vinegar for taste

Hot pepper flakes (optional)

Omit, if desired, or use a few dashes of hot sauce

Salt and pepper (optional)

Omit, if desired

Italian herbs: 1/4 C. parsley, 1 TB basil, and 1-2 tsp oregano and/or rosemary (to taste)

Any dried herbs

Meat lover? You can also add cooked meat to the pot in step 6 during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Try adding cooked chicken (chopped or shredded), ground sausage or beef, or frozen, peeled shrimp!

Instructions (serves about 6)

  1. De-stem, wash and chop or rip collards into bite-size pieces. If using frozen vegetables, defrost and drain excess water before using.
  2. In a large pot, heat enough olive oil to coat bottom.
  3. Cook onion and garlic with hot pepper flakes, if desired, until onion softens.
  4. Add collards or other vegetables.
  5. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, then add the wine and broth.
  6. Cook 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. If adding cooked meat, add during the last 5 minutes of cooking to heat through.
  7. While collards or vegetables are cooking, cook the pasta according to the package and drain and rinse the beans.
  8. When pasta is cooked, drain it, return to pot, and mix all ingredients together.
  9. Heat the soup over medium approximately 5 minutes, adding additional seasonings to taste, such as extra hot pepper, wine or herbs.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Learn More Ways to Stay Healthy and Cope with COVID-19