In chapter three of Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees, Silvia goes to visit her older sister Angie at her house in North Jersey and while Angie is deciding what she will make for dinner, Silvia recalls the time her sister used American cheese to make eggplant Parmesan.  She tries to persuade Angie to order out or make something simple.  But to no avail, Angie insist on cooking and to accommodate her sister’s vegetarian diet, she makes Pasta Fazool.  Silvia is happily surprised that the soup turned out wonderful.  This healthy soup, also called pasta fagoli, was served daily at a local diner in my home town of Hammonton, New Jersey.  There are many variations on this recipe.  For instance, frozen or fresh peas can be substituted for cannelloni beans.  It can also be made with or without chicken broth.  See recipe below. Hope you enjoy!


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried or fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup uncooked sea shell macaroni
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, with liquid



  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook celery, onion, garlic, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper and salt until onion is translucent. Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes and tomato sauce, and simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Add pasta and cook 10 minutes, until pasta is tender.
  3. Add beans and mix well. Heat through. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.