Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli

Want Olive Garden at home? This recipe does the trick! One day, I was really craving Olive Garden's pasta e fagioli. It is a soup that is similar to chili, but without the chili powder. It is my favorite soup that they serve and it is quite filling. I only need to order this soup and salad (of course I eat the bread sticks, too) and I am stuffed! However, being on a college budget and schedule, I didn't want to spend the money or time going to Olive Garden. So, to satisfy my craving, I went to the internet to scoop out the best mimic Olive Garden pasta e fagioli. After reading reviews of a bunch of recipes, I finally found one that people said tastes like the soup I was so desperately wanting. After that, and running to the grocery store for a few items, I was on my way transforming my apartment into Olive Garden. My boyfriend was pretty excited, as he was invited to share the meal (and we still had a bunch of leftovers).

Few notes about this recipe, if there is something you don't care for, leave it out! There are so many flavors and spices that if you take one or two things out, it will still be flavorful and delicious! As a matter of fact, I accidentally forgot to add celery (even though I had it out and ready to cut up), but it didn't taste like anything was missing. Also, as you can see in the pictures, it is best with a sprinkle of cheese. I only had mild cheddar but parmesan would be great, too. Finally, I suggest making bread sticks so it feels even more like Olive Garden at home. Plus, they taste great dipped in the soup!

Pasta e Fagioli 
recipe found on top secret recipes

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, diced (about 1 c.)
1 large carrot, julienned aka long, thin slivers (about 1 c.)
3 stalks celery, chopped (about 1 c.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (the true recipe calls for 2, I accidentally only grabbed 1)
1 15 oz can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 15 oz can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 12 oz can V-8 juice
*I used a little more than 24 oz of V-8 juice since the recipe did not call to simmer the soup with a lid so I added more V-8 juice because I wanted there to be more liquid. Also, this helped the leftovers to stay soupy
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 lb. ditali pasta (about half a package)
*I was not able to find ditali pasta anywhere. These noodles are the signature mark for this soup at Olive Garden. I was very disappointed when I had to use elbow. However, it still tasted great!

1. Brown the ground beef in a skillet and drain grease.
2. Add diced onion, julienned carrots, chopped celery, and minced garlic to the beef and saute for about 10 minutes.
3. Place beef mixture into a large saucepan or pot, along with the remaining ingredients, except pasta. Simmer for about 1 hour. I would recommend putting a lid on and setting the burner at a little less than medium heat (however, all stovetops vary).
4. Once the soup has been simmering for 50 minutes, cook the pasta in boiling water for about 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain water.
5. Add the pasta to the pot and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.
6. Enjoy!

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