RJ and I both love the Pasta e Fagioli at Olive Garden. But, since the closest Olive Garden is an hour away, and since a bowl of the stuff (a bowl. ONE BOWL) costs $6, I decided to figure out how to make it myself.
The first problem I ran into was that I couldn't figure out how to spell it, so I couldn't Google it. Stupid extra vowels.
Anyway, I finally figured it out, found a few recipes, picked out the ingredients I liked from each one, and came up with this.
It's mighty tasty.
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, julienned (ok, I'm not gonna lie. I just grated them up with a box grater, thank you very much)
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 (14 oz) cans of tomatoes. I had one can of petite diced and one can of crushed, and that worked fine.
1 can of red kidney beans. Don't drain or rinse them.
1 can of great Northern beans. Ditto on the rinsing/draining bit.
2 cans (12 oz) tomato juice or V-8. I used one of each.
4 cans of water. Just fill the cans that the beans and tomatoes come in and use that. That way you get all the good out of the bottom of the can.
A couple shakes of Tabasco sauce. I used about a tablespoon and a half. Feel free to scale that back if you don't like stuff spicy.
One teaspoon of sugar. My Mama taught me that any time you use canned tomatoes, you should put a little sugar in. So there.
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 lb. ditali pasta. Or use macaroni. I won't judge you. Much.
WHAT YOU DO:
In a big stockpot or dutch oven, brown the ground beef. Drain off any extra fat, then add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery back in with the beef and cook gently until the onions are translucent. Dump everything else except the pasta in. Stir it up, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover it. This is definitely one of those soups that gets better the longer it cooks, so I usually cook it on low for at least 2-3 hours.
A half hour before serving it, remove the lid, crank up the heat to medium, and toss the pasta in.
It's seriously good, and fairly healthy.
It's hard to beat that.