I found a copycat recipe for Olive Garden's Pasta e Fagioli soup years ago and have made it several times since then. I got a bit of a hankering for it and decided it was time to make it again. I doubled the recipe for the most part, but didn't have everything that I needed. So, I kind of tweaked it this time. I'm so glad I did. It turned out to be the best I had ever made.
Pasta e Fagioli (doubled, exactly how I made it this time)
This makes a HUGE pot of soup, you'll need at least a 5 quart pot to make the full recipe.
2 lbs ground beef
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and julienned
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 bay leaf
2 (14oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (5.5oz) can V8 juice
2 (15oz) cans petite diced tomatoes
2 (15oz) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans with liquid
2 cans great northern beans with liquid
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp pepper
salt to taste
1 lb ditalini pasta
Brown the ground beef. Drain fat.
Add carrots and onions and saute for 10 minutes.
Add rest of ingredients except pasta and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
In a separate pot, boil pasta for 10 minutes and drain.
To serve, place pasta in bowl and ladle soup over pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese.
It's really best the next day. I know it's tempting to put the pasta into the soup before serving, but the pasta will soak up all the moisture from the soup and get mushy and unappetizing that way. Store them separately.