One of my friends and I like to occasionally meet at Olive Garden for lunch and we always get the same meal—soup, salad and breadsticks. I order Zuppa Toscana and she orders the Pasta e Fagioli. We both comment that we should try other soups. We never do.
While Olive Garden may never win any James Beard awards, they do serve stellar soups, and I can never eat just one breadstick. And as much as I love Zuppa Toscana, I decided to expand my horizons … well at least within my own kitchen!
Pasta e Fagioli is one of those soups that you can easily adapt to your tastes, so I did. I packed in quite a few veggies as I really want to increase my veggie intake this year. This soup really hits the spot, especially on a cold winter’s night.
Really, we do have cold nights in LA. Not polar vortex cold but still cold enough where you crave a hot bowl of soup. This comes together quickly and makes a large pot. I didn’t freeze any, although it should freeze well. I would probably leave out the spinach and pasta and add them when you reheat the soup.
The next time I meet my friend for lunch, I may just surprise her and order a new soup, then again … maybe not. 🙂
Pasta e Fagioli Soup
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage casings removed if using links
- 1 carrot peeled & chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 sweet yellow onion diced
- 2-4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 28 oz can of crushed or diced tomatoes
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 1 can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 1 can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup small tube pasta
- 1-2 cups fresh baby spinach rinsed
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch crushed red pepper or to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium high heat. Add sausage, break up into small crumbles with a fork and brown.
- Add onion, celery, carrot and sauté until soft, around 10 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, basil, oregano and crushed red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Then stir in tomatoes, beans, chicken broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer while the pasta cooks.
- Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Once cooked, drain and drizzle a little olive oil over the pasta and stir. This will prevent the pasta from sticking together and clumping when serving.
- Add spinach to soup and cover until spinach wilts. Stir spinach into soup and taste to see if you need to add additional salt or pepper.
- To serve: add a spoonful or two of pasta to a soup bowl then cover with soup. Sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese on top.