Traditional Italian Soup from the Early 1900s

Zuppa di Fagioli (bean soup) tastes just as hearty over 100 years later.

BEAN SOUP Zappa di Fagioli Recipe

Soup season is perfect for experimenting with new and old meal options. If you’re vegan or looking to make soup on a budget, try this comforting bean soup (Zuppa di Fagioli). This traditional Italian soup recipe comes from Practical Italian Recipes for American Kitchens by Julia Lovejoy Cuniberti, published in 1918. The recipe calls for dried beans of your choice. However, you could substitute canned beans and chicken stock to save time.

This cookbook came out near the end of WWI. Its contents sought to highlight the frugal yet delicious nature of Italian cooking. The forward reads:

In this world war we are learning many lessons from our Allies beside those of the battle field. The housewives of the old world have much to teach us in thrift, especially in the kitchen. Italian cooking—not that of the large hotel or restaurant, but the cucina casalinga of the little roadside hostelry and of the home where the mother, or some deft handmaid trained in the art from infancy, is priestess at the tiny charcoal stove is at once so frugal and so delicious that we do well to study it with close attention. —Julia Lovejoy Cuniberti

If you find this traditional Italian soup recipe helpful, many of Cuniberti’s works have been re-printed and can be found on Amazon.

BEAN SOUP Zappa di Fagioli Recipe

Zappa di Fagiuoli Recipe

Serves: 4
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 2 voted )


  • 1 cup dried beans, Kidney, Navy or Lima
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 piece of celery
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes


  1. Soak the beans overnight.
  2. Boil until tender. Many cooks put the beans to cook in cold water with a pinch of soda. When they come to a boil, pour off this water and add fresh.
  3. Chop fine the onion, garlic, parsley, and celery and put them to fry in the oil with salt and a generous amount of pepper.
  4. When the vegetables are a delicate brown, add to them two cups of the broth from the beans, and the tomatoes.
  5. Let all come to a boil and pour the mixture into the kettle of beans from which some of the water has been drained if they are very liquid.
  6. This soup may be served as it is or rubbed through a sieve before serving. Croutons or triangles of dry toast make an excellent addition.
Did You Make This Recipe?
Share it on Pinterest and Instagram and tag @heirloomsathome.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. By clicking “Accept“, you agree to our website's cookie use as described in our Cookie Policy. Accept Read More