I love the soups that are offered at Olive Garden. The cookbook author, Todd Wilbur has a wonderful series of cookbooks that I have in my collection and enjoy browsing through. His book Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 has the Pasta E Fagioli Soup recipe that mimics the Olive Garden version very closely. I did not have every single ingredient on hand, but I had similar ones that worked. I did not have the V-8 juice that the original recipe calls for, so I substituted stewed tomatoes for diced and increased the tomato sauce to make up for it. The flavors were very good and everyone enjoyed it.
Pasta E Fagioli Soup
adapted from Todd Wilbur (Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 pg 247)
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, julienned (cut into matchstick shapes)
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (15 oz) cans stewed tomatoes with juice, cut up
- 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans (with liquid)
- 1 (15 oz) can white beans (with liquid)
- 1 (32 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups hot water
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 lb elbow pasta (I didn’t have the ditali pasta the original called for)
- Shredded Parmesan cheese for serving
Preheat a large 12 inch skillet over medium high heat. Brown the ground beef in the skillet and pour off any fat. I used a lean cut of ground beef, so there was very little fat. Add the chopped onion, celery and carrots and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients (except the macaroni). Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour.
During the last 20 minutes of cooking the soup, cook the elbow macaroni in 2 1/2 quarts of boiling water according to package directions. You will want the pasta to be slightly under done.
Drain the pasta and add it to the soup. Simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and crusty French bread.