I love good hearty soups all year round, but everyone knows they're best during the cold months.
Speaking of cold, I had forgotten how cold Arkansas can get.
We've had multiple nights in the upper-teens the past few weeks......I don't know if Virginia ever got that cold the entire nine years we lived there.
I have love the Olive Garden's Soup and Salad all you can eat lunch for years....and Pasta e Fagioli has always been my favorite. (although never mind asking me to say it properly. I just point to it on the menu. Don't laugh.)
So I was super excited when I saw that Jaclyn from Cooking Classy had posted her version of the soup. I had to try it out the very next week.
We absolutely loved it.
So positively delicious. While I haven't eaten soup at the Olive Garden in a few years, I am certain that this soup is superior. And it's healthy, too.
Thank goodness we liked it, because this made a huge batch.
Grant's only complaint about it was the red kidney beans. He thought they looked really nice, but
they're just not a bean he cares for too much. So next time I might
substitute in another bean for him....but I liked the kidney beans just fine.
Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup Copycat Recipe (adapted slightly from Cooking Classy)
2 lbs lean ground turkey, ground beef, or Italian sausage
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 large carrots, diced
3-4 stalks celery, diced
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
32 oz. tomato sauce (approximate - can be a little more or less)
1 quart vegetable broth (beef or chicken work well also)
1-1/2 cups water
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
3/4 tsp. dried majoram
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups ditalini pasta, uncooked
1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
Parmesan or Romano cheese, for serving
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large stock pan over medium high heat. Crumble in ground meat and cook, stirring occasionally, until no pink remains. Drain meat and set aside. In the same pan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and saute carrots, celery, and onion over medium-high heat until tender. Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer. Reduce heat to low; add tomato sauce, broth, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, cooked meat, and salt and pepper to taste.
Cover with lid and allow to simmer at a low boil 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies are soft. Add pasta to pot and cook for 5 minutes. Add beans and cook 5 minutes longer, or until pasta is tender.
Serve warm with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired.
Note: The longer the soup sits, the more liquid the pasta will absorb. Thin it with additional broth if desired.
I ended up adding an extra 8 oz can of tomato sauce with a couple of cups of water and a little more spices to the leftovers the second day, as it had become more like a casserole. It was still super delicious.
Linked to Crumbs and Chaos/Seasonal Inspiration