Pantry/Freezer Pasta e Fagioli

It seems cliché to lead with this, but I really love this soup. It’s quick and easy to make, and yet it is so full of flavor and texture, it feels like a much more complicated soup. It performs the amazing trick of being hearty and light at the same time. It doesn’t seem to have much to it, but after you’ve finished the bowl, you feel full, satisfied, and happy.

I use chicken bouillon powder in this recipe, but if you want it vegetarian, feel free to use vegetable bouillon instead. (Vegetable bouillon can be very onion-y and unbalanced. Read the label before you buy. I use Penzey’s Vegetable Soup Base. It has rich, balanced vegetable flavor. Not an ad. An honest recommendation.)

Take a closer look at the cheese. It’s from a jar. I know that may sound odd to some of you, and I get it. While I was researching ingredients for this recipe in the grocery store, I spied this cheese on the shelf with the powdery “shaky cheese”. You know the one. All of us of a certain age grew up with that powdered cheese in the green can. This is not that. It really is parmesan cheese from a jar, and that is all it is. It’s less expensive than parmesan cheese from the cheese case, but the texture and flavor are all there. It keeps forever in the refrigerator after it’s been opened. I encourage you to give it a try.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon jarred minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 cups water
  • 5 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder (or vegetable; see note)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 14 ounce can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 2.25 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 cup dried ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)
  • jarred grated parmesan cheese for topping


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, onions, and garlic until sizzling and fragrant.
  2. Add the basil, parsley, and oregano to the saucepan, and stir to mix. Cook for one minute to bloom the flavors.
  3. Add the water, bouillon powder, tomatoes, kidney beans, and olives to the saucepan.
  4. Bring to a boil over high heat, and add the ditalini pasta. Stir, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until pasta is tender.
  5. Serve topped with the parmesan cheese.

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