One Pot Borlotti Bean and Pasta Stew With Butternut Squash and Sage Pesto (Pasta e Fagioli)

Updated 3rd March 2024

This classic Italian creamy pasta and bean soup/stew gets a Fall twist with butternut squash, borlotti beans, and a tasty parsley sage gremolata. It’s perfect for those chilly autumn evenings. Fall is fast approaching - literally days away by the calendar but the temperature has been feeling fall-like for the last week or two. I am not looking forward to the drop in temps but I do love fall flavours and warm and cozy drinks and foods especially soups and stews.

Borlotti Bean and Pasta Stew With Butternut Squash and Sage Pesto

A one pot wonder made from delicious Borlotti beans

Pasta e fagioli, Pasta fazool, or pasta and beans is one of those meals that warms the soul and fills the belly with all the nourishing veggies and pasta - it feels like comfort food - the good kind - the nourishing kind. This dish comes to us from Northern and Central Italy and each region and like any other dish - each family has their own version of making this simple humble yet delicious dish. Another great thing about this version is that it all cooks in one pot. You don’t have to cook the pasta separately because you want the soup to thicken slightly and the pasta really helps that happen naturally as it cooks. The key to a good Pasta e fagioli — literally “pasta and beans” is the flavours the pasta is cooked in. The onions, garlic and veggies create the back bone of flavours along with the added herbs and seasoning. Traditionally some of the beans are puréed with some of the sauce to create an even creamier stew but I don’t usually do that - I think the stew is thick enough without having to purée any thing. The starch from the pasta cooking does it all. There are many variations of this dish and you can really make it your own by using what you have in the pantry when it comes to beans and in the fridge when it comes to herbs and veggies. Have fun with it and experiment.

Borlotti Bean and Pasta Stew With Butternut Squash and Sage Pesto

I wanted a Fall twist on this and got inspired by a Fine Cooking recipe that added butternut squash to this dish. I thought that was genius and loved that creamy sweetness is adds to this soup. I always love a nice pesto/gremolata or herb sauce to go over a stoup like this, and the same recipe called for a parsley and sage pesto. Sage goes so well with all the squashes and fall veggies and made for the perfect flavour addition to the overall dish. It’s simple to whip up in your food processor or mini chopper and worth the extra step to make because it’s just so delicious swirled in a big bowl of this soup! You will love it!

Borlotti Bean and Pasta Stew With Butternut Squash and Sage Pesto

Basic Ingredients

  • PASTA: Small pasta like datalini, Anneli or quadrucci
  • TOMATO PASTE & TOMATOES: I like to use canned whole cherry tomatoes that I crush and burst but feel free to used diced tomatoes. Tomato paste adds flavour and richness to the broth/cooking liquid.
  • BEANS: Typically Borlotti beans or cranberry beans are used but you could also use cannellini beans or white beans
  • HERBS: I used fresh parsley and sage but this is the type of dish that benefits from robust herbs so feel free to use oregano, or thyme or rosemary as well.
  • SALT, PEPPER & CHILI FLAKES: Season to taste and throughout the cooking process. Use as much or as little chili pepper flakes as you would like
  • VEGETABLES: Along with garlic and onion we used celery and butternut squash
  • BROTH: I usually use a low sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • WHITE WINE: I like to deglaze and flavour the broth with white wine but that is optional - simply replace with more broth

Borlotti Bean and Pasta Stew With Butternut Squash and Sage Pesto

Substitutions & Additions

  • Whole tomatoes for crushed or diced tomatoes
  • Wine can be substituted with broth or omitted
  • Borlotti beans can be replaced with any canned bean you prefer
  • Any short pasta can be used
  • For extra flavour pan fry chopped pancetta or bacon to start before adding the onions and veggies
  • For extra flavour add a bay leaf and a Parmesan rind to the stew while it simmers
  • Butternut squash for sweet potatoes or carrots or a combo of any other veggies.
  • Sage for rosemary or any other herb you like- that goes for the parsley as well

How To Make Pasta E Fagioli

  • SAUTE VEGETABLES with aromatics then add the tomato paste and deglaze with the wine or broth
  • SIMMER the tomatoes and the broth covered until the vegetables are mostly tender
  • ADD PASTA & BEANS and continue to simmer until pasta and veggies are tender
  • MAKE GREMOLATA using a mini food chopper or simply mince herbs and stir through the olive oil
  • SERVE Stir the gremolata through the whole pot or serve it on the side

Make ahead, Storage & Freezing Instructions:

  • MAKE AHEAD: This soup/stew is a delicious meal prep recipe idea because it just gets better with time so you can definitely make it ahead of time. If you know you’ll be enjoying the dish at a later date, you can cook the pasta a minute or two less than al dente as the noodles will continue to soak up the liquid as it sits, or cook it separately and add it in when you serve it.
  • STORAGE: This pasta and beans will stay good in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days. The Pasta will continue to swell and absorb the liquids in the stew so you may have to add a little more broth when reheating.
  • FREEZING: You can freeze this easy soup/stew for up to 3 months in an airtight container. But - if you’re planning to freeze this soup, I do not recommend adding the pasta. The frozen pasta doesn’t hold up well when it’s reheated in the soup. If you know you’ll be freezing this stew, leave out the pasta when cooking it. Then when you reheat and serve the stew, add cooked pasta into each serving.
  • REHEATING: If thawing from frozen, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight. Then reheat soup stove top. You will likely need to add a little extra broth or water when reheating.


Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Total Time: 45 mins


For the soup

  • 250 grams (approximately 8-9 oz) datalini/anelli or any short pasta
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow small onion diced fine
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped very fine
  • 2-½ cups diced butternut squash (½ inch small dice)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for serving
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine (optional - could substitute with broth)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more if needed to thin out sauce
  • 15-oz. can borlotti (or cranberry or Roman) beans, rinsed and drained*
  • 14-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed (I used whole baby tomatoes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Gremolata

  • 1 packed cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 medium clove garlic, chopped
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)


For the Soup

  1. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium heat and add the onion and celery, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, 3-5 minutes.
  2. Add the squash and the aromatics, parsley, sage, garlic, and pepper flakes, if using, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, and squash starts to soften a little another 3-5 min.
  3. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until almost completely evaporated, about another minute.
  4. Add the broth, and tomatoes and bring to a simmer and continue to simmer covered for 5-8 minutes or until the squash is halfway or more cooked and softening.
  5. Stir in the pasta and beans. Simmer gently uncovered until the squash and pasta are tender, 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently and adding a little extra broth if needed.
  6. Remove from the heat and swirl through the gremolata. As the soup/stew sits it will thicken so if reheating you may need to add a little water to help thin it out.

For the Herb Garlic Sauce (Gremolata)

  1. Place the parsley, sage, and garlic in a food processor. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the oil.
  2. Pulse until finely chopped, adding more oil if necessary to thin out into more of a sauce consistency. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed, and transfer to a bowl and serve with the soup/stew.

Recipe Notes

  • If using dried Borlotti beans, soak them in water overnight, then drain. Simmer them in a large pot of water over medium heat and cook for 45 minutes or until the beans are tender and cooked through. Feel free to add aromatics like thyme, rosemary or a bay leaf to the water if you would like. Once cooked, drain them and use them in this soup or any other recipe you would like.
  • Don’t simmer the soup/stew for too long or it will overcook the pasta. When you are using a small cut of pasta like ditalini or small shells, they are going to cook super quick in the soup. It will only take a few minutes - 8-10 min at the most - to get the pasta perfectly al dente. The pasta will continue to swell or absorb liquid as it sits in the soup, so you will definitely need to add more broth when reheating.

Adapted From Fine Cooking

Borlotti Bean and Pasta Stew With Butternut Squash and Sage Pesto