Monday, March 14, 2011

Pasta Fagioli

I saw this recipe when digging around the A Year of Slow Cooking blog.  I love soup.  I love using my Crockpot.  I love Italian food.  When I saw this, I knew this is something that would be healthy, easy, and delicious.  It makes a lot of food, so either make it for a crowd, plan on having a good bit of leftovers, or make it and freeze half.  It supposedly tastes like the Pasta Fagioli soup at Olive Garden, but I've not ever had that so I can't say.

Pasta Fagioli

1 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained (you could also use ground turkey) 
1/2 large red onion, chopped  (I only had a white onion)
1 cup carrots, chopped 
2 celery stalks, sliced 
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (and juice)  
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed 
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed 
4 cups beef broth  
1 jar (16.5 oz) pasta sauce  
2 tsp oregano 
1 T Tabasco sauce  (I forgot to add this)
1/2 tsp salt  
1/4 tsp black pepper 
1/2 cup dry pasta, to add at end of cooking time   (I used fusilli/corkscrew-shaped pasta)
Parmesan cheese, for topping at end


Use a 6 quart or larger crockpot, or cut the recipe in half.
In a large skillet, brown the meat on the stovetop and drain well. Let it cool a bit.  Finely chop carrots, onion, and celery and add to the empty crockpot  (I used a food processor to cut down on the amount of time to prep). Drain and rinse the beans, and add them. Add the whole cans of tomatoes, and the pasta sauce. Add the beef broth. Add the salt, pepper, oregano, and Tobasco sauce. Finally, stir in browned and cooled ground meat.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4. 

When the vegetables are tender, stir in the 1/2 cup of dry pasta.
Cover and cook for another hour on low, or until the pasta is tender. It will swell quite a bit.
Serve with a bit of parmesan cheese.
Total Cooking Time: approx 9 hours on low, 4.5 on high

*** I did not put in the Tabasco sauce initially because I was unsure of how HOT it would be and if my kids would be able to tolerate the heat.  I intended to put it on the table to allow us to add it as desired while eating.  BUT, I FORGOT!  I will try the Tabasco next time.
***I cooked my soup on low for 8 hours.  I put the pasta in after the 8 hours, and it took the noodles only about 30 minutes to get soft enough.  
***Freezing suggestion:  If you plan on cooking a whole batch and freezing half of it, I would remove the half that you want to freeze BEFORE adding the pasta.  If you do this, cut your pasta portion in half when adding it to the hot soup you are planning to serve that night or you will have too much pasta.  My reasoning for this is that I think freezing the soup with the pasta, then defrosting it and cooking it at a later time may make the pasta too tender and soggy.  I would defrost the frozen soup at a later time, bring to boil or hot simmer, and then add the additional 1/4 cup of dry pasta so it is a fresh as possible.

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