Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup

PinSaveJUMP to RECIPE

This post may contain affiliate links.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) — My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that’ll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup Recipe

If you’ve ever wondered how to recreate the Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup recipe, look no further than my copycat version.

Dare I say, it’s even better than the restaurant version — as most homemade recipes usually are!  

Complete with hearty ground beef (or ground Italian sausage), onions, carrots, celery, an array of spices, and a rich broth made with a variety of canned tomato ingredients, red kidney beans, and white cannellini beans. 

Classic pasta e fagioli soup also uses ditalini pasta which is what I used. It’s the perfect little bite of pasta amidst the other textures and flavors from the beans and vegetables. 

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Food Trivia: Pasta e fagioli translates to pasta and beans. If you’re a fan of pasta and beans, make sure to also try my Pasta e Fagioli al Forno which is pasta, beans, and sausage. It’s comfort food perfection.

What I love about my rendition of this Olive Garden classic soup is that it’s super easy and comes together with very little active work thanks to the help of your slow cooker. 

Everything just simmers away for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours depending if you’re cooking on the high or low heat setting.

However, if you’re pressed for time or would just rather make this soup on the stovetop, you can have it ready in 45 minutes from start to finish.

Whichever way you choose to prepare it, this Italian soup recipe is a family favorite that everyone will adore. Hearty, comforting, and definitely a soup that you can make a meal out of. It’ll be on rotation all winter long! 

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Ingredients in Pasta e Fagioli

Most soups tend to have lots of ingredients which help to provide texture and depth of flavor.

My homemade pasta e fagioli soup recipe is no exception but everything is a common fridge or pantry ingredient and easy to find at your local supermarket.

  • Olive oil, if necessary
  • Ground beef OR ground Italian sausage
  • Yellow onion
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Kidney beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Tomato sauce
  • Petite-diced fire-roasted (or regular) canned tomatoes
  • Beef or chicken broth (reduced or lower sodium recommended)
  • Ditalini pasta
  • Fresh parsley, optional for garnishing
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional for garnishing

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

How to Make Better-Than-Olive-Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup 

This copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli soup is an absolute cinch to make!

Follow my simple directions and everyone will be telling you that yes, this really is better than Olive Garden’s! 

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Step 1: Saute the protein and onion together in a skillet until browned and then transfer the mixture to your slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Step 2: Add the tomato paste, garlic, spices, salt, and pepper.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Step 3: Add all remaining ingredients, except the pasta (and garnishes), cover and slow cooker for 4 hours on high OR 6 hours on low.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Step 4: Thirty minutes before serving, add the pasta, cover, and simmer.

Step 5: Optionally garnish with fresh parsley and/or Parmesan cheese as desired and serve! 

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

What Slow Cooker Is Best for This Recipe?

I recommend a large slow cooker or Crockpot, at least 7 quarts or if it’s an 8-quart Crock-Pot, even better. Food cooks more evenly when it’s not jammed into a too-tight space.

If you have one of the slow cooker or multi-food cookers that has a saute feature, that’ll save you the step of sauteing the sausage or beef with the onion and then needing to transfer it into your slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Can I Make Pasta e Fagioli Without a Slow Cooker?

Yes you sure can! I am type of person who prefer to make soup on my stovetop because it’s always much faster than using a slow cooker.

I suggest using a large Dutch oven and then brown the sausage or beef with the onions, add all remaining ingredients except the pasta, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer for about 10 minutes more, or until done, and serve.

Should I Use Ground Beef or Sausage in This Recipe?

You can use either ground beef or ground sausage in your slow cooker pasta e fagioli soup. 

Olive Garden uses ground beef in my experience if you want to stay as close to a true copycat recipe as you can. 

However, ground sweet Italian sausage or spicy/hot Italian sausage are great alternatives. Either buy a one pound package without casings, or slip the casings off if you purchase sausage links.

You can also use half-and-half with ground beef and sausage if you have a bit of both on hand.

Tip: Some fat is good. I don’t like to buy the leanest ground beef out there because fat adds flavor so I aim for about 90% fat. If you’re using ground sausage,  you may not need to add olive oil since it’s already a bit fattier than ground beef is.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

What Kind of Canned Beans Are Best in This Recipe?

Pasta e fagioli translates to pasta and beans so the beans are important! And there’s usually one red and one white type of bean included.

If you have one of those “I don’t like beans” people in your family, this Crock-Pot pasta e fagioli may not be the soup for you because you can’t omit the beans.

For the red beans, I use either regular red kidney beans or dark red kidney beans. 

White beans are traditionally cannellini beans although you could substitute with Great Northern beans or potentially garbanzo beans in a pinch. 

Tip: Make sure to drain and rinse the beans before adding them to the soup. 

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Is Olive Garden Copycat Pasta e Fagioli Soup Spicy?

As written, the copycat Olive Garden pasta e fagioli soup is not spicy. There’s nothing in it to make it spicy other than perhaps the fire-roasted tomatoes but in combination with everything else, any potential heat they have is really diluted and minimized.

If you want to make your soup spicier, I suggest either a few liberal shakes of red pepper flakes (pizza flakes).

Dried ground chili powder like you’d use in chili is another alternative. However, it’s not usually classically spicy in small quantities so you may have to add a tablespoon or more.

Or you can always sprinkle in a tiny bit of cayenne pepper. I often do this with soups, chilis, curries, stews, and so forth to give additional flavor. In my experience the cayenne does not make the finished dish “spicy” but rather intensifies and rounds out the overall flavor so it doesn’t taste flat or boring.

You’d have to add at least 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in my opinion to a pot of soup this size in order for it to even register on the “spicy” scale. Of course, everyone is different so start slowly and carefully if you try this! 

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Minestrone vs Pasta e Fagioli

These two Italian soups are very similar. I have a recipe for 30-Minute Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup too in case you want to make them both and compare.

Minestrone tends to have more veggies, including zucchini and green beans in addition to carrots and celery, and is brothier. It’s also usually vegetarian.  

Pasta e fagioli soup on the other hand has a few less veggies, tends to be a bit thicker, and also has either ground sausage or ground beef.

Serving Suggestions for Pasta e Fagioli Soup

My copycat version of the classic Olive Garden pasta e fagioli soup is one of those soups that even people who think “soup isn’t a meal” will have their mind changed! 

This soup is filling and hearty, especially when served with a nice hunk of crusty bread or rolls. Why not try Homemade One Hour Soft Breadsticks to really make it feel like Olive Garden at home (and better)!

Round things out with a classic salad like a BLT Salad or a Kale Caesar Salad.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

How to Store Leftovers 

Leftover soup tends to keep very well and, like chili, can often taste better the next day after the flavors have melded together.

This Olive Garden pasta e fagioli soup keeps very well airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. It’ll keep airtight in the freezer for up to 3 months.

If you are going to freeze it, I suggest freezing it in smaller sized containers or portions so that it thaws faster. 

Reheat the soup gently on the stovetop in a pot or in the microwave. 

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

What Happened to the Broth?

Anytime there are noodles or pasta in soup, they will tend to continue to absorb the broth as the soup sits in the fridge. Some brands of pasta and in some soups more so than in others.

So if you find yourself with very little soup broth after storing the soup, I recommend either of the following:

  • Add extra chicken or beef broth as desired before serving. You may need to add additional salt and pepper, too.
  • Or you can also boil the pasta noodles separately in a kettle on the stove like you’d normally boil pasta rather than adding them to the slow cooker. And then add only as much cooked pasta to individual bowls of soup as desired.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Tips for the Best Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Ground Beef OR Ground Sausage – I as already mentioned, you can use either one in your homemade Italian soup recipe that rivals the best Italian restaurant pasta e fagioli recipe!

Make sure to remove the sausage casings if you use sausage in the form of links rather than a 1 pound package. You can use regular/sweet or hot and spicy Italian sausage. If using sausage,  you may not need to add olive oil when browning it.

Dried vs. Fresh Herbs – Because I always have dried oregano and basil in my pantry, that’s what I used. If you want to use fresh, double the amount to 2 teaspoons of each since fresh herbs aren’t actually quite as potent as their dried out counterparts are.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Draining the Beans – Make sure to drain and rinse the beans well. This helps remove excess sodium and also helps make beans easier to digest.

I find no difference in taste between regular red kidney beans and the dark red ones but perhaps you do. Use whichever version you prefer.

Do NOT Drain the Canned Tomatoes – There are three kinds of canned tomato ingredients in this recipe:

  • Tomato paste
  • Tomato sauce
  • Canned petite-diced tomatoes (fire-roasted or plain). This is the one that you may be tempted to drain, but don’t. You want that juice.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Beef or Chicken Broth – You can use either one based on what you tend to prefer. Beef broth is more robust and has a heartier flavor. You can mix and match the broths as well. 

I recommend low or reduced sodium broth whether you use beef or chicken broth, and especially so if you are going to use beef broth since it’s usually very salty. 

Bay Leaves – Adding a couple is a nice touch if you have them on hand for even more flavor.

Brothy Soup – If you like a brothier soup, you can always add more broth than I call for, a cup or two more should do the trick.

Where’s the Broth? – Remember that the pasta will continue to absorb the broth as the soup sits so don’t be surprised if you open your container of leftover soup and find the quantity of broth has dramatically diminished. 

As I mentioned before, just add more broth to taste (along with more salt and pepper). Or boil the pasta separately and keep it stored separately and only add as much as you plan to consume to each bowl. 

Pasta – Traditional pasta e fagioli soup is made with ditalini pasta. However, if you can’t find it, feel free to use another small shaped pasta such as small elbow macaroni. Runners up also include ziti or penne. They’re not quite the same but will do if that’s all you can find.

Pin This Recipe

Yield: 6

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Olive Garden Copycat) - My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

My homemade recipe for this famous soup is even BETTER than the restaurant version and SO EASY thanks to your Crock-Pot! Complete with ground beef (or sausage), vegetables, spices, and pasta. Hearty comfort food that'll become a family FAVORITE in no time! Stovetop cooking directions also provided.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 pound lean ground beef OR 1 pound ground Italian sausage*
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 3 stalks celery, diced small
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced small
  • one 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (regular red or dark red)
  • one 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (Great Northern beans may be substituted)
  • one 14.5-ounce can tomato sauce
  • one 14.5-ounce can petite-diced fire-roasted (or regular) canned tomatoes, do not drain
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) beef or chicken broth (reduced or lower sodium recommended)
  • 8 ounces dry ditalini pasta (or another small shaped pasta such as small elbow macaroni)
  • Fresh parsley, optional for garnishing
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional for garnishing

Instructions

  1. To a large skillet, add the olive oil if you're using a lower fat ground beef (unlikely you will need the oil if using sausage), the ground beef or ground sausage, onions, and saute over medium-high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the protein is no longer pink and the onions have softened. Crumble the protein and stir the onions frequently as they saute to ensure even cooking.** (See Notes for Stovetop Instructions)
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large slow cooker, I recommend at least a 6 to 8-quart slow cooker. If you have a mutli-cooker that allows you to saute the protein and onions in it and you don't have to transfer anything, even better.
  3. Add the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the celery, carrots, kidney and cannellini beans (both drained and rinsed), tomato sauce, petite-diced tomatoes (not drained), and pour the broth evenly over the top. Stir to combine.
  5. Cover and slow cook on HIGH for about 4 hours OR on LOW for about 6 hours.
  6. About 30 minutes before serving, add the ditalini pasta, stir to combine, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Taste the soup and make any necessary flavor adjustments including more salt, pepper, a dash of chili flakes or cayenne pepper for extra spiciness, etc.
  7. Optionally (but recommended), garnish with fresh parsley and/or freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately. Leftover soup will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.*** If you are going to freeze it, I suggest freezing it in smaller sized containers or portions so that it thaws faster.

Notes

*You can use either ground beef or ground sausage. Olive Garden uses ground beef in my experience if you want to stay as close to a true copycat recipe as you can. 

However, ground sweet Italian sausage or spicy/hot Italian sausage are great alternatives. Either buy a 1 pound package without casings, or slip the casings off if you purchase sausage links.

You can also use half-and-half with ground beef and sausage if you have a bit of both on hand.

Tip: Some fat is good. I don’t like to buy the leanest ground beef out there because fat adds flavor so I aim for about 90% fat. If you’re using ground sausage,  you may not need to add olive oil since it’s already a bit fattier than ground beef is.

**Stovetop Cooking - I suggest using a large Dutch oven and browning the sausage or beef with the onions over medium-high for about 7 minutes, add all remaining ingredients except the pasta, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the pasta and simmer for about 10 minutes more, or until al dente, garnish the soup as desired, and serve.

***Broth - Anytime there are noodles or pasta in soup, they will tend to continue to absorb the broth as the soup sits in the fridge. Some brands of pasta and in some soups more so than in others. If you find yourself with very little soup broth after storing the soup, I recommend either of the following:

  • Add extra chicken or beef broth as desired before serving. You may need to add additional salt and pepper, too.
  • Or you can also boil the pasta noodles separately in a kettle on the stove like you’d normally boil pasta rather than adding them to the slow cooker. And then add only as much cooked pasta to individual bowls of soup as desired.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 865Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 2418mgCarbohydrates: 77gFiber: 13gSugar: 9gProtein: 57g

More Easy Soup Recipes:

Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup — This minestrone soup recipe takes just 30 minutes to make and it’s way better than what you get at Olive Garden! Homemade always wins in my book! 

Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup in large Dutch oven

Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that’s loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

Loaded Zuppa Toscana Soup — This COPYCAT version of the Olive Garden classic can be made either on the STOVETOP, INSTANT POT, or SLOW COOKER!! A comforting classic Tuscan kale soup that's loaded with bacon, sausage, potatoes, Parmesan, cream, and more!!

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat) – Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing!

The Best Broccoli Cheese Soup (Better-Than-Panera Copycat) - Make the best soup of your life at home in 1 hour! Beyond words amazing!!



About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

Get the latest recipes via email!

Leave a Comment

Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.