Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew

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This Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew is rustic Italian comfort food at its finest. Creamy and saucy and packed with flavor, but also easy and fuss-free. Made with all pantry ingredients, it’s budget-friendly and perfect for weeknight dinners.
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 40 minutes
Total 50 minutes
5 from 94 votes

If you’ve ever craving rustic Italian comfort food, this Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew is the recipe for you! It’s a crossover between a soup and a pasta (a “pasta soup” is probably a better title than “stew” but it sounds silly), and in the traditional Italian style of cucina povera (“peasant cooking” or “poor kitchen”), this recipe is made with affordable everyday pantry ingredients.

It’s inspired by the Italian classic pasta e ceci (pasta and chickpeas) and is made with some of my favorite pantry staples. Think whole peeled tomatoes, pasta, and cannellini beans. It’s brothy yet thick, saucy and rich, and packed with flavor.

In the mood for even more pasta? I’ve rounded up 30 of the best vegan pasta recipes from around the web! There are so many great choices, though I’m partial to the Lentil Bolognese. Check it out!

white bean and pasta stew.

Why you’re going to like this Vegan Italian White Bean Stew

Italian comfort food.  Just like my Livornese-style stewed beans, this is rustic Italian comfort food at its finest. It’s a crossover between a soup and a pasta, and it’s brothy, saucy, and creamy. It’s the kind of meal that sticks to your ribs but doesn’t weigh you down.

Pantry staples. All of the essential ingredients in this recipe are pantry staples (i.e., you might already have all the required ingredients in your pantry).

Budget-friendly. This recipe is made with humble ingredients like canned tomatoes, pasta, and canned, so it’s a budget-friendly recipe to add to the rotation.

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Wholesome and healthy. Despite being extremely comforting, this recipe is made with wholesome ingredients, and easy to make even healthier if you use whole wheat pasta.

Kid-friendly. Tomato-y pasta reminiscent of spaghetti-Os but way better, this is definitely a kid-friendly meal to make for the whole family.

Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew.

Ingredients and Substitution Notes

In the event you don’t have all the exact ingredients on hand, here are some substitutions to try.

Shallots. I love the mild flavor of shallots in this dish, but if you don’t have shallots, one yellow onion works just great.

Pasta. Any variety of short pasta works. I used orecchiette, but macaroni, ditalini, tubetti (tiny tube pasta), or other short pasta varieties also work.

Rosemary. This is a non-pantry ingredient, so I’ve made it optional. It does add a world of flavor that infuses the whole soup with piney-yet-lemony notes. Of course, if you don’t have it, try adding a bit of dried rosemary when you add the garlic. Or, if you have fresh thyme, use a few sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme).

No dried chili pepper? Substitute with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it).

Cannellini Beans. I especially love cannellini beans for this recipe because they are extra creamy and therefore make the broth extra creamy (for the same reason, they’re great in white bean dip). That said, if you can’t find them, other white bean varieties such as navy beans or great northern beans are fine. Or, you can use chickpeas and make this dish more similar to the classic Italian dish, pasta e ceci.

I leave half of the cannellini beans whole and add them to the soup along with the canned tomatoes. The other half of the cannellini beans get pureed with some plant-based milk, lemon zest and lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and miso paste. This puree then gets added into the saucepan with some water, and this liquid becomes the cooking liquid for the pasta.

If you don’t have nutritional yeast, you can omit it. Same with miso paste, which is not technically a pantry ingredient but should be because it has an indefinite shelf life in the fridge. Add a bit more salt (or a splash of soy sauce) if you omit the miso paste.

As for the plant-based milk, I like something creamy like unsweetened oat milk or lite coconut milk. Other options include cashew milk or soy milk (unsweetened).

Canned tomatoes. I use whole peeled canned tomatoes in this recipe and crush them by hand. In simple recipes where the quality of ingredients is key, I try to use whole tomatoes (instead of pre-diced or pre-crushed tomatoes) because they’re higher quality tomatoes. If you can’t find or don’t have whole peeled tomatoes, you can use canned diced tomatoes or canned stewed tomatoes (one 14-ounce can).

I crush the whole tomatoes by hand in a bowl. It’s a fun excuse to play with your food!

bowl of stew on table.

Tips for making this recipe

1. You’ll need a medium-sized saucepan for this recipe. I used a 3-quart sized pan, which is large enough to hold all of the ingredients.

2. Use enough extra virgin olive oil at the start of the recipe so that your shallots and garlic turn golden, not browned. Also, I say extra virgin olive oil since, again this is a pretty simple recipe, you’ll get the most flavor if you use the best quality ingredients (extra virgin olive oil has a lot more flavor than regular olive oil).

3. Once you add the pasta, the exact cook time will vary depending on the pasta variety you use. I used orecchiette, and the box called for a 12-minute cook time. I found that it took 14 minutes for the pasta to be cooked al dente, so you’ll likely want to add 2 minutes to the pasta box cook time. This is because we’re cooking the pasta in a very small amount of liquid compared to a typical pot of plain pasta.

4. I like to finish this dish with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper, and chopped parsley. If you don’t have parsley, feel free to omit.

5. This is a dish where a spork would come in handy. The broth is best eaten with a spoon, but it’s easier to eat the pasta with a fork. Pick whichever utensil suits your chomping style the best!

6. This dish thickens as it rests, so if you’re reheating leftovers, add a bit of water to thin it out.

bowl of stew on a table.

Watch! How to make Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew

EASY VEGAN PANTRY PASTA RECIPES | quarantine cooking
EASY VEGAN PANTRY PASTA RECIPES | quarantine cooking

To see exactly how this pasta soup is made (and how I thicken it naturally so that the broth turns silky and creamy), be sure to watch the Youtube video. This is the final recipe in the video and starts around the 9:28 mark.

If you give this recipe a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!

Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew

5 from 94 votes
This Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew is rustic Italian comfort food at its finest. Creamy and saucy and packed with flavor, but also easy and fuss-free. Made with all pantry ingredients, it’s budget-friendly and perfect for weeknight dinners.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Italian
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 3

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 medium shallots*, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary (optional but recommended)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 dried red chili pepper (can substitute with ¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes)
  • 1 (15-ounce/440g) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed and divided into 2 equal portions**
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) creamy plant-based milk, such as oat milk or “lite” coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 of a medium lemon, zested, then juiced
  • 1 tablespoon white or yellow miso paste (optional)**
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Half of a (28-ounce/795g) can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 cups (720 mL) water
  • 6 ounces (168g) of short pasta, such as orecchiette, ditalini, macaroni, etc.
  • Flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped (optional; for serving)

Instructions

  • Crush the whole peeled tomatoes by hand, reserving the juices. Use half of the 28-ounce/795g can.
  • Bring a medium saucepan to medium heat and add the 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots and season with a pinch of salt, cook, stirring often to prevent them from browning, until soft and translucent, about 4-6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes until soft and golden, again stirring often.
  • Add the rosemary sprig, bay leaf, and dried chili pepper (or red pepper flakes). Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Once the aromatics have cooked down, add the crushed tomatoes and half of the cannellini beans. Season to taste with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have thickened slightly and are starting to turn jammy, 6-8 minutes
  • While the tomatoes are cooking, make the white bean puree. Add the remaining half of the cannellini beans to a food processor. Add the plant-based milk, nutritional yeast, lemon zest, lemon juice, miso paste (if using), 1/4 tsp kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Blend until the mixture is completely pureed and smooth. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt or lemon juice as needed.
  • Once the tomatoes have cooked down, add the 3 cups (720 mL) water and the white bean puree to the saucepan. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a rapid simmer. Add the pasta and cook, stirring every few minutes to prevent it from sticking, until the pasta is al dente and the sauce has thickened, 12 to 16 minutes, depending on your pasta variety. The finished dish should be creamy and soup-like. Remove the chili pepper, rosemary and bay leaf and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Divide between 2 or 3 bowls and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil and black pepper on top. Garnish with chopped parsley, if using.

Notes

* If you don’t have shallots, use 1 medium yellow onion.
** You’ll add half of the beans whole to the soup, and use the other half in the puree.
*** If you don’t have miso paste, omit and add a bit extra salt to taste, or a splash of soy sauce or tamari.
**** You’ll use only half of the 28-ounce can; reserve the rest for another soup, pasta sauce, chili, or stew. You’ll need to crush the tomatoes by hand, and include the juices. If you don’t have canned whole peeled tomatoes, you can use 1 (14-ounce) can diced or stewed tomatoes.

Calories: 474kcal | Carbohydrates: 79g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 588mg | Potassium: 585mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 261IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 186mg | Iron: 6mg

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4.97 from 94 votes (35 ratings without comment)

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136 comments on Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew

  1. Sam

    5 stars
    What an excellent stew! I used some leftover tomato sauce + cherry tomatoes, and finely chopped the rosemary and some thyme. We loved the creamy consistency and I was honestly blown away with how easily it came together, yet with that olive oil drizzle, tastes extra fancy. It’s perfect for tomato season. Thanks for another winner.

  2. Anna

    5 stars
    Elevated Chef Boyardee. Loved the lemon tang. We added chives as a garnish instead of parsley. The kids loved it. Thanks for another banger!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Anna. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  3. Tammy

    Could you add mushrooms to the dish?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Tammy, sure but at RPL we aren’t huge fans of soggy mushrooms. You could try making a crispy mushroom topping like is found in this crispy mushroom umami noodle soup. You can either top with mushrooms or mix into the stew after cooking separately!

  4. Kimberly Lag

    4 stars
    I made this as written, opting for macaroni. So easy an flavorful!! When I make it again (and I will!), I will add the whole beans when I add the pasta, as my beans broke down too much.
    I used my Magic Bullet for the puree, and used some of the water you need to add to rinse it out into the pot.
    Great recipe, thanks Nisha!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re happy you enjoyed the stew, Kimberly! Thanks for the comment and cheers!

  5. Kaitlyn

    5 stars
    Nisha, this is incredible!! I made it yesterday (for just myself) and barely have any leftovers! I will be making it again this weekend (and doubling it in the future!). There is such a depth to the flavor and it is soo creamy! It’s delicious, truly. I sent the recipe to two of my friends already! Thank you for another amazing dinner :)
    Oh PS! I used jovial’s gluten free mafalda pasta because it was what I had on hand – so great with it!!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Your positive feedback is the best reward for our hard work. Thank you, Kaitlyn!

  6. Shauna

    5 stars
    I absolutely love this soup, but my orecchiette always sticks together. Any tips for how to avoid this?

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Shauna, one of the tricky things about one-pot pasta dishes like this is that you have to stir quite a bit. Stir once the pasta is added, stir very well, and and then stir frequently as it cooks. Otherwise, as you have experienced, the pasta will stick to each other and to the bottom of the pot.

  7. Morgan

    5 stars
    Absolutely incredible. I felt like a gourmet chef making this! The white beans were so good in it, and I couldn’t help licking the food processor clean after making the miso mixture. Thank you so much for creating and sharing this recipe!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the kind words, Morgan! It’s so awesome to hear you’re such a fan of the stew.

  8. Becky

    Jut made it for a party yummy! Happy new years!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      That’s so great to hear, Becky! Happy New Years!

      Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  9. Michael Zitzelsberger

    5 stars
    Absolutely amazing !!! Recommend 100 %

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely review, Michael!

  10. Bob McNamara

    5 stars
    Turned out fabulous! It tasted very rich, as if it were loaded with cream. I agree with the comment that said the miso shouldn’t be optional. We’ll definitely make it again.

  11. Miranda

    5 stars
    So comforting and flavorful! Love the creaminess and the touch of lemon. Will be a new cool weather staple for sure!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Miranda, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  12. Issa

    5 stars
    I made this without the rosemary because my mom doesn’t like it. It was good without it but OMG I added rosemary to just my bowl, it is a must!

  13. Emma

    5 stars
    This was so delicious, we all went back for seconds. I used navy beans, macaroni noodles, and omitted the rosemary, which I didn’t have on hand. I also used regular 2% milk as I’m not vegan. Only change when I make this again will be to double the recipe, as I like to have leftovers, and so I’m not left with a half-jar of tomatoes.

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We’re glad the recipe turned out well for you, Emma! Thanks for giving it a shot :)

  14. Wynne

    This is one of my favorite meals. Seriously SO good. I find it even better if you leave some of the rosemary in! This is also delicious with some vegan garlic bread on the side :)

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi Wynne, we’re thrilled to hear you enjoyed this recipe! And I agree, almost everything is great with a slice of garlic bread (I’m personally obsessed with it, lol). Thanks for sharing :)

      Next time, would you mind leaving a rating alongside your review? Star ratings are big help to readers who are thinking of making the recipe. Thanks!

  15. Theresa

    5 stars
    Excellent

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Theresa!

  16. Cynthia

    5 stars
    Warmed me inside and out on a cold day. Delicious!! Think I’ll be adding this cannellini blend to more dishes and see what happens. It was so creamy!

    1. Kaitlin @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome to hear the recipe was of service on a chilly day, Cynthia! Thank you for the kind review :)

  17. Nina

    3 stars
    Love many of your recipes, but this one is juste ok. It is still good, but just.

  18. Mariann

    5 stars
    Such a delicious soup/stew! I used crushed tomatoes and red pepper flakes but followed rest of recipe as directed. The miso was a great flavor booster. It was a nice change up from the usual way we have pasta (we used gluten free Banza pasta). Thanks, Nisha! Another great recipe, as usual.

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