Pasta e Fazul (Neapolitan-style bean and pasta soup)

Pasta e Fazul (Neapolitan-style bean and pasta soup)
Pasta e Fazul (Neapolitan-style bean and pasta soup). (Photo: Forti | Collage: Tony Jackman)

In this series, I explore Italy’s cucina povera, the food of the country’s poor people, which is very much in vogue. In this edition, I share my recipe for Neapolitan-style bean and pasta soup.

This regional soup from Naples is sometimes called pasta fazool or pasta fasul. In the Neapolitan dialect of Italian, fasul/fazul is the word for beans. 

In the Neapolitan recipe, the pasta is boiled in the soup, whereas the similar pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans), popular in Italian-American cuisine, is boiled separately.

The cucina povera, or poor people’s food, is absolutely in vogue in Italy and around the world at the moment. Even Michelin-starred chefs have seized upon these centuries-old traditional foods served on the tables of the common people in rural Italy and turned them into fashionable food served in restaurants.

These dishes are not only delicious and wholesome but often very cheap to make. Perfect for contemporary South Africa.

Fortunato Mazzone in his Italian realm, centre, with (left) his pesce in cartoccio and, right, his Pasta e Fazul, also coming up in this series. (Photos supplied; collage by Tony Jackman)

Fortunato Mazzone in his Italian realm, centre, with (left) his pesce in cartoccio and, right, his Pasta e Fazul, shared here. (Photos supplied; collage by Tony Jackman)

For an interesting variation to this recipe, drop in 12 nice plump mussels when you add in the dry pasta and let them steam open in the soup. This is a specialty of Naples.

The pasta I use is dried Italian durum wheat pasta such as ditali or stelline, but for true Neapolitan authenticity use ziti, broken by hand.

For the beans, I use borlotti. Purists will use dry beans soaked overnight, but this takes preparation ahead of time, while this version can be whipped up in a jiffy.


250g dried Italian durum wheat pasta (small cut such as ditali or stelline)

2 x 400g tins beans of your preference (I use borlotti)

2 stalks of celery and the leaves, chopped

1 large white onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 large carrot, diced

2 x 410g cans of chopped, peeled Italian tomatoes

handful chopped parsley

freshly ground salt and pepper

fresh, chopped chilli, optional

50ml extra virgin olive oil

half a cup of grated Parmesan, or any good hard cheese if not available


Make a sofrito by sautéeing the onion, celery and carrot in 50ml olive oil until translucent. Season well.

Rinse the beans in a colander and add to the pot with one cup of cold water. Bring to the boil and add the chopped, peeled tomatoes.

Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste to check the seasoning.

Just before serving, add the dry pasta and cook in the soup until al dente (normally 6–7 minutes).

Serve with crusty bread and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. DM

Also read his piece on pesce in cartoccio.

Fortunato Mazzone is the boss at the Forti Group of restaurants.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options