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Copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Posted Sep 13 2012 6:02pm

Turns out I left Napa on Sunday with more than a new appreciation for the phrase meth teeth – a nasty head-cold!

A friend on the trip got one a few days prior to heading out there and, despite our best efforts to avoid cross contamination, as of Monday I had officially traded wine , cheese , and sushi – for juice , Nyquil, and tissues.

These are not the same.

To me there’s nothing more satisfying than a hot bowl of soup when I’m sick, so I immediately made a big pot of Copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli Soup on Monday night to cozy up with all week.

Pasta e Fagioli means “pasta and beans” in Italian, and the Olive Garden’s version is seriously delish. I know this because I used to pick Olive Garden for my birthday dinner spot every year growing up, and every year I’d devour this soup with unlimited salad and bread sticks (adventurous, no?) We stopped going after the year my Dad accidentally inhaled the juice from a pepperoncini in his unlimited salad and coughed for like, 45 minutes. Quite embarrassing. It was Caesar Salads at Cheddar’s for every birthday after that!

Anyways! This Pasta e Fagioli soup has a savory tomato-based broth with hearty veggies, ground beef, beans, and pasta. It tastes just like the OG’s, is comforting to the audible “mmmm“, and I’ve been eating it for lunch all week in hopes that it’ll help quiet my incessant sniffling and sneezing. We’ll beat this thing yet!

Start the Pasta e Fagioli Soup by browning 1lb ground beef (I used 90/10 grass-fed) that’s been lightly seasoned with salt & pepper in a SOUPER large soup pot (get it? SOUP-er? Crickets.) Drain the beef, then return it to the pot.

Next add 1 cup each chopped onion (about 1 small onion,) carrots (about 1 large carrot,) and celery (about 2 stalks,) along with 2 minced garlic cloves. Season with a bit more salt & pepper, then cook the veggies with the cooked ground beef for 10 minutes to soften up a bit.

Now add in the rest of the soup ingredients, including: 28oz crushed tomatoes,

and 1-15oz can each of tomato sauce, kidney beans (undrained,) great northern beans (undrained,) and beef broth (unpictured.) I was initially skeeved out by the thought of adding the bean liquid into the soup, but the cans state the beans are packed in water with a small amount of sea salt, which is fine.

Finally, add yummy, hearty spices including salt, pepper, and dried thyme, basil, and oregano.

Stir everything together then simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Oh, a parmesan cheese rind (like the one I used in this soup ) would be FAB to add in at this point. I didn’t have any on hand this time though – rats!

When the soup has 10 minutes left, cook up 8oz ditalini pasta in salted, boiling water.

Drain the pasta, then stir it into the soup and simmer for 5 more minutes.

Ladle up, and serve!

Print this recipe!

Serves a crowd

Slightly adapted from Todd Wilbur

1lb ground beef (I used 90/10 grass fed)
1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 large carrot, chopped (1 cup)
2 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
28oz can crushed tomatoes
15oz can tomato sauce
15oz can beef broth (plus more for heating)
15oz can red kidney beans (with liquid)
15oz can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2×2″ parmesan rind (optional)
8oz dry ditalini pasta

1. Brown ground beef in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until no longer pink, lightly seasoning with salt & pepper. Drain then return to the pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, lightly season with salt & pepper, then saute for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the pasta, then simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally.

2. When the soup has 10 minutes left to simmer, cook pasta in salted boiling water until just under al dente. Drain then add to the soup and simmer for 5-10 more minutes. Remove parmesan cheese rind, then serve.

I was going to wait until October-ish to share this recipe with you, but our high today was only in the mid 60′s which made eating a bowl of this soup wrapped up in a blanket with a cool breeze coming in through the windows feel awesome – head-cold or not. Thinking some of you may feel the same way.

FYI – the soup will thicken up as it cools, so buy some extra beef broth to add in when reheating. It’ll be just as delish. :)

Here’s to the start of soup season !

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