"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pasta e Fagioli--Jill's version Olive Garden Copy cat

This is one of our favorite soup dishes to make when the weather starts to turn cold.  The twins loved it as babies and could self feed themselves because everything was cut to finger food sizes for them. Every time I make this it gets good reviews and family and friends alike have asked for the recipe. We serve this soup with a nice green salad and Ciabatta bread or other Italian bread to dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  If we are really making it special we serve a Tiramisu for dessert.

1 lb ground beef (or Italian Sausage)-sometimes I do 50/50
1 onion, diced (1 cup)
1-3 carrots, julienned (we love carrots, but if you don't lean toward the 1 carrot)
3 Stalks celery chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz each ) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz ) can tomato sauce
1 (12 oz) can V-8 juice * this is a new ingredient I have added for those of you who have my recipe already (11/12/08)
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained (can substituted other white beans too)
3 cups beef broth or 2 (14.5 oz) cans beef broth
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8-1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (optional if you like your food with a little kick) 
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 lb Ditali pasta (small tube shaped)

Brown the ground meat in a large saucepan/pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat.  Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and saute for 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, except the pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.  About 50 minutes into the simmer time, cook the pasta in a separate pot for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain and rinse (this helps the pasta not absorb the soup). Add the pasta to your pot of soup and simmer for 5-10 minutes then serve.

**This makes a ton of soup--Italian stew.  It freezes nicely, but I have learned from experience that it turns out better if you freeze the soup without the noodles and add them when you thaw and reheat. If not the pasta really breaks down and turns to mush. If you decided to freeze you might want to cut your amount of pasta down in the recipe so you don't end up with a warm pasta salad ;-)

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