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 Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
5 from 16 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.

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

Italian comfort food.  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.

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. 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!

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.

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

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 16 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 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Italian
Diet Vegan
Keyword: nut-free, pasta, white beans
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. 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.

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26 comments on Vegan Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew

  1. Victoria

    Amazing recipe!! I accidentally cooked the Orecchiette ahead of time (thankfully al dente), so I halved the liquid and waited until the sauce had thickened before tossing the pasta in. The flavour combination is unreal, especially with the rosemary tomatoes and creamy umami from the miso white bean puree. I will definitely be making this again!!

  2. Nancy

    This stew was FANTASTIC. My husband is not a big fan of pasta dishes but this one, especially with the orecchiette, was excellent. This one will become one of my go to’s.

    Thank you.

  3. Lenora Dernoga

    This was delicious and so full of flavor! The only change I made was to use a veggie broth in place of water, to add even more flavor. This will become a staple recipe in my house!

  4. Linda

    Made this yesterday. It was delicious! This will definitely go in my dinner rotation.
    Non-vegan husband enjoyed it too.

  5. Elizabeth Jackson

    Made this last night and my family ooohed and aaahed more than I’ve heard them in a LONG time! Delicious!!! and made it as is. Now I have a new great and healthy way to make a “cream” for other dishes.

  6. Lucia

    I really love your recipes they are amazing and yummy 😋
    Just a small correction in your actual post, cacio e pepe means cheese and pepper not chickpeas and pasta 😉

  7. Ruth Petrucci

    What Miso paste do you recommend? Thank you.

  8. Anna Rayne Levi

    I am Italian & I can vouch for the deliciousness of this recipe! Mazal Tov, Nisha.
    Buon Appetito,
    Anna from Ecuador

  9. Lucie

    Úžasné, vše z Tvých receptů zbožňuji

    1. RPL Team

      Ahoj Lucy! Jsme tak rádi, že si recepty užíváte!

  10. Kora

    I made this stew yesterday and it was easy and delicious! All the flavours worked so well together :) thank you!!

  11. Lucile

    This. Is. Amazing.
    I added carots and some mushrooms… and a splash of white wine, because I’m french and couldn’t help myself ;)
    It’s creamy, it’s lemony… I’m a fan of your recipes, and this is one of my favorites. Thanks !!

  12. jackie

    Really good and so creamy.

  13. Allie

    Thanks for this awesome recipe! I used onions instead of shallots and dried rosemary instead of fresh, and it was so delicious. One of my favorite dishes ever, and so convenient that the pasta cooks in the same pot as everything else. You have such a gift for developing recipes, Nisha! I’ve adored every one I’ve tried :)

  14. candice

    Delicious and easy to prepare. The flavor is so comforting . Love your recipes!! Thank you!!

  15. Hannah

    The flavor is great, and the pasta heats up well. I like that the sauce is made with beans.

  16. Martha Fletcher

    Thank you! I happened to have all of these ingredients in my pantry. This will be dinner today! The number of servings is perfect for us too.

  17. Hsi Yen Chung

    I live in a van and I love how simple and mess free this! The stew holds so much flavour and it was so quick to make. My partner has a cold at the moment and it cheered him right up! Thank you for sharing :)

  18. Kimera

    I made this recipe last night. It was quite simple yet delicious (love the one pot where don’t have to cook pasta separately etc.). It was also a bit of a throw everything in there to use up what I had in the fridge – I added a bit of leftover celery and carrot with the onions, the last of some red pepper hummus to the white bean puree, and some kidney bean/salsa mix from mexi dinner leftovers, and topped with a little crushed peri peri cashews for some crunch. It was a bit tangy for me, so I just added a spoon of tahini to try to balance out a bit at the end. Mine came out quite creamy and less like stew/broth but was still great. I will try throwing in some other veggies the next time. Thanks Nisha, what a great idea for a healthier pasta dish (relative to the dairy options).

  19. Angelina

    Hi – I just found your website and the recipes look delicious. My only question is how do you print a recipe out – I’m better a paper copy in front of me. :)

    1. Maureen

      Hi Angelina,I have the same question as you do! I can’t find the print recipe option without getting the whole blog along with it.

      1. Nisha Vora

        Hi Maureen, sorry about the trouble! I am starting the process of having my blog redesigned and moved to a different platform that will make it easier to print (Squarespace, which currently hosts my blog, doesn’t offer an easy plug-in to add a print button). In the meantime, you can select ctrl + P for print and it should give you a preview of which pages the recipe lives on (e.g., pages 7-9) and just selectively print those.

      2. Sam

        No doubt one of the best soups I’ve ever had! Adding this to the favorites for sure

  20. Amanda

    I made this and it was a huge hit! I doubled the recipe and had to swap black beans for white (didn’t make it as gray as I worried it would!). I also threw some carrots and celery in with the onions. So delicious! I used GF pasta (the kind made from lentils), and it worked great :)

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Amanda, that’s so great to hear it was a hit even with your substitutions. Had no idea gluten-free lentil pasta would work well with this technique of cooking pasta in the stew! That makes me so happy to hear :) Thank you for sharing!

  21. June

    Thank you for this recipe..it did not disappoint! I doubled it and used fire roasted tomatoes and chickpeas cause that’s what I had in my pantry. I also used gluten free pasta(son has celiac) which I was nervous about but it came out amazing! I added a big bunch of finely chopped Swiss chard at the end. I didn’t have fresh herbs so I put 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning. This will be a part of my regular rotation. Really made no mess at all which made my day…Thank you !!!
    P.S. very delicious with green onions and Gusta vegan original cheese shredded as garnish :)

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