It’s soup season and we’re turning up the heat with this spicy pasta e fagioli made in the Instant Pot! Hearty Italian soup with spicy Italian chicken sausage, red and white kidney beans, and cavatelli pasta.
It’s almost Thanksgiving and I’m so excited because my parents are in town! They’ve only been able to visit California once since they drove me out here five years ago. Just picture my entire life—plus us three—stuffed inside a 2012 Monte Carlo. For five days. Through several national parks, mountains, deserts, and Vegas baby. They are the absolute best! So very thankful to be able to spend the holiday with them and do what we do best—feast.
They requested a few of my recipes from the blog while they’re here, including this spicy pasta e fagioli. We ate some for lunch on Sunday paired with an amazingly creative grilled cheese my brother threw together and they were both a hit!
If you have no idea what pasta e fagioli is (or how to say it) let me shed some light. I had no idea either, until my boyfriend introduced me to it. So pasta e fagioli literally means “pasta and beans.” It’s pronounced [fazool]. And it’s basically the Italian version of chili. Ooh I have a good spicy chili recipe, too, if you’re interested! Do I like spicy soup, much?
Anyway, it’s super hearty with chunks of veggies, spicy Italian sausage (I used chicken), two kinds of beans, and pasta. All in a tomatoey broth that’s as spicy (or not) as you like. Honestly, I made the first batch a little too spicy—even for me. My brother loved it though, so I’ll include the extra hot version in the instructions for all you spice fiends out there. And for those of you who can’t take the heat, I got you covered. You can easily 86 the red chili flakes altogether and swap out spicy Italian sausage for regular to keep it mild.
This is one of the only dishes I’ve made in the Instant Pot, but I’m already obsessed. It’s the easiest thing ever, and the flavors taste like it’s been simmering for hours. There is a sauté function on the Instant Pot, so you can cook everything at once, but I like to brown the sausage and onions on the stove before I add it to the pot. I find the pot’s surface area a little too small and I like to be able to control the heat more. I also cook the pasta separately and don’t add it til the end, so I can control the doneness and flavor. And I always, always, always cook my pasta (for any dish) in super salty water to add more flavor. Think of it like putting on a full face of makeup and forgetting mascara. Or writing a book with no page numbers. It still works, but that extra step really sets things off and ties it all together. Just salt your damn pasta water, okay?
If you’re feeling bummed because you really want to make pasta e fagioli now, but you don’t have an Instant Pot, fear not. You can make this soup in a slow cooker or even the good old-fashioned stovetop. It’ll just take a little longer, but it will be worth it. Promise!
INSTANT POT SPICY PASTA E FAGIOLI + ITALIAN CHICKEN SAUSAGE
- 1/3 cup dried red kidney beans (or canned)
- 1/3 cup dried cannellini beans (or canned)
- 1 lb spicy Italian chicken sausage (or pork)
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tbsp concentrated bouillon (I used Better than Bouillon)
- 30-35 oz can peeled whole tomatoes
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 cups cavatelli pasta, cooked al dente
- 2-3 tsp red chili flakes (1 tsp for less spicy version)
- 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper, to taste
- grated parmesan, to garnish
- fresh basil, to garnish
If using dried beans—cover with cold water and soak for 6-8 hours. I do this the night before, but you can omit this step if you’re short on time. Drain and rinse. In a large pot cover beans with approximately two inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 45-60 mins or until beans are tender. Drain and set aside.
While beans are cooking prep onion, garlic, celery, and carrot. Transfer canned tomatoes and liquid to a large bowl and squish, squish, squish with your hands until there are no overly large tomato pieces left.
In a pan on the stovetop (or in the Instant Pot using the sauté function) sauté onions and spicy Italian chicken sausage until brown. Add garlic, stir, and cook for another minute. Remove from heat and add to Instant Pot. If you’re going for a super spicy soup, add 1 tsp of red chili flakes with the onions and sausage.
Add the beans, celery, carrot, chicken broth, bouillon, tomatoes, 2 tsp red chili flakes (less if you want less spicy), and Italian seasoning to the pot. Close lid and make sure pressure valve is pointing toward “sealing.” Set Instant Pot to “soup” function and adjust setting to “normal.” Set time to 12 minutes.
While soup is cooking, boil pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Make sure to SALT YOUR WATER before adding the pasta. Add more salt than you think and taste it! It should taste like the sea.
When soup is done, wait a few minutes, then turn valve and release pressure for a “quick release.” Wait until there is no longer steam coming out to open lid. Stir in cooked pasta.
Serve with grated parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and a nice crusty bread.