I found this recipe a long time ago when copycat recipes were first appearing on the Internet. I had always enjoyed the soup at the restaurant, and I gave it a try. It tastes pretty close to the original, makes a ton (unlimited soup, anyone?) and comes together fast and easy. Seriously, the hardest part about making this is opening all the cans.
If you read through the list of ingredients on the recipe, you will see that celery appears there, but not in my picture. This is not a mistake. Celery is the food of the devil and I will not have the nasty, smelly, stringy, horrible, crunchy, watery stuff in my house. But you may add it if you like.
To make the soup, brown the ground beef in a soup pot, add the onions, garlic, and carrot, and sauté until they are softened. Then add all the other ingredients except the pasta, simmer for an hour, and finally, add the separately-cooked pasta before serving. It could not be any easier, and it goes down very nicely on a cold, gloomy day like today.
Pasta e Fagioli (a la Olive Garden)
(makes a bunch–about 8 servings)
1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 15-ounce can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 12-ounce can V-8 juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 lb (1/2 pkg.) ditali pasta
Brown the ground beef in a large saucepan or pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and sauté for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.
About 50 minutes into simmer time, cook the pasta in 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente. Drain. Add the pasta to the large pot of soup. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and serve.