To me, soup means comfort and I love comfort foods. This recipe for Pasta e Fagioli was one I found in a new cookbook I bought about a month ago. I changed it a little and it was so tasty. If you've ever had this at the Olive Garden, you'll know it's kind of an Italian style chili with pasta and beans and a rich tomato broth. It's also very easy to make so if you have a child in your home who likes to help in the kitchen, this is the perfect dish to prepare for little hands.
You'll need 3 carrots, cut up, 1 onion, diced, 4 celery stalks cut up, and 1 clove garlic, minced.
The recipe in the cookbook did not call for any meat, but we had to put some in. I had some spicy italian sausage in the freezer that I thawed and used. Remove the meat from the casing. (If you want exacts, I used three sausage links.)
In a soup pot, heat some olive oil. Saute the garlic and a bay leaf for a minute. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.
When the sausage is almost cooked through, add the onion, carrot, and celery. Stir well and cook until the onions are almost translucent.
Add 5 cups beef broth (you can easily use vegetable broth if you want to keep this vegetarian) and 1 jar spaghetti sauce.
I used a garlic and olive oil flavored sauce from Bertolli.
Make sure you season at this point with some salt, pepper, and 2 tsp oregano.
Stir everything well and let it come to a boil. Cover and reduce to low. Let this cook for about an hour. The longer you let it simmer, the more those flavors have a chance to marry.
For the pasta, I used ditalini, which is a short macaroni noodle. It has a nice firm texture that holds up well in the soup. You can swap this out using orzo or elbow macaroni.
About 30 minutes before serving, cook half the box in it's own pot of boiling water. The reason why I use a separate pot to cook the pasta it will take away all of the liquid in the soup if you threw it into the main pot. This way, if you cook to al dente, you'll have cooked pasta that still has room to absorb the flavor of the soup, but it won't take away all that delicious tomato goodness.
Serve and top with some fresh grated parmesan cheese. Fresh baked italian bread is the perfect companion. I love using it to sop up the broth in the bowl.