Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli soup is a healthy lightened up and hearty stick-to-your-ribs dish perfect for a chilly day. Best of all, this copycat recipe Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli soup is healthier with gluten free options.
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During the winter months, I have soup and stews on my mind non-stop. And even more so now that my oldest is in school full-time. He seems to be coming home with a different cold every week.
So today I am sharing one of his all-time favorite soups from Olive Garden – Pasta e Fagioli. I call it pure comfort food at it’s best. It’s a super hearty, thick Italian soup loaded with veggies, meat and beans.
And the best part? This yummy and healthy pasta e fagioli soup is an easy set and forget slow cooker (click here for the Instant Pot version) recipe. I’ve also included stovetop instructions and both are just perfect for busy weeknights.
It’s also lightened-up and I think it’s just as comforting and hearty as the one we had.
With a ton of healthy veggies like carrots, celery and zucchini.
HOW DO I MAKE THIS SLOW COOKER PASTA E FAGIOLI SOUP:
This slow cooker pasta e fagioli comes together pretty easily.
There is a little bit of prep and chopping time involved. It’s not hard at all though.
I like to brown the meat (extra-lean ground turkey) with a pinch of red pepper flakes in a skillet before adding it into the slow cooker. Totally optional but it gives this soup that extra bump of flavor.
Everything else except for the beans, zucchini and pasta get added to the crock-pot to cook low and slow. 30 minutes before serving, you add in those remaining ingredients and cook on HIGH, until the pasta is tender.
This helps the pasta not get soggy by adding it near the end.
If you plan on freezing this soup, I would leave out the pasta and cook it separately on the stove whenever you’re planning to serve it. That way, the pasta doesn’t end up getting soggy.
Make Ahead Tips for this Pasta e Fagioli Soup:
- Cut the carrots, celery and zucchini the night before and store into zip-top bags in the fridge
- Brown the meat the night before and store in an air-tight container in the fridge
- If using dried beans instead of canned, cook and drain ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge
- Leave out the pasta if freezing this and only add the pasta if you plan on enjoying this on the same day
This recipe is one of those dishes that tastes even better the next day once the flavors have had a chance to meld together. It’s healthy comfort food at it’s best.
The leftovers make a perfectly filling lunch for the week and always hits the spot on a chilly winter day.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil avocado or grapeseed oil work as well
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3/4 pound extra-lean ground turkey
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper chili flakes optional
- 2 celery ribs chopped
- 2 large carrots chopped
- 3 cups homemade or canned tomato sauce
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes undrained (preferably fire roasted or Italian style)
- 1/2 cup homemade beef stock or good quality no-salt beef broth
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 cup cooked or drained & rinsed canned kidney beans
- 1/2 cup cooked or drained & rinsed canned Great Northern beans
- 2 medium zucchini chopped
- 1/4 cup dry uncooked Ditalini pasta or other small pasta use gluten-free or leave out entirely if preferred
- sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar to taste
- water as needed to thin out soup to desired consistency
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, add the turkey, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook and crumble until meat is brown and no longer pink. Drain any fat and transfer contents to a large 6-quart slow cooker.
Add the celery, carrots, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, and bay leaf. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours or HIGH for 2 hours. Remove cover and stir in beans, zucchini, and pasta and cook on HIGH for an additional 30 minutes or until pasta is tender. Season with salt and black pepper to taste and discard bay leaf. Stir in balsamic vinegar if desired. If soup is too thick for your liking, add more water as needed
- Ladle hot soup into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
- In a large heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add onion and saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the ground turkey, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook and crumble until meat is brown and no longer pink. Drain any fat and return the pot back to the stove.
- Add the celery, carrots, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, bay leaf, kidney beans, and zucchini. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in pasta and allow to cook for another 8-10 minutes or until pasta is tender.
- If soup is too thick for your liking, add more water as needed
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste and discard bay leaf. Stir in balsamic vinegar if desired.
- Serve warm with bread, sprinkled Parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley if desired.
**NOTE about pasta – **If you plan to freeze this or serve the next day, leave out the pasta and cook on the side and then combine when you are ready to enjoy. This helps the pasta not get soggy.
More slow cooker winter favorites:
Yum! I loved this!