One of my favorite Olive Garden soups is the Pasta e Fagioli soup. It has been on their menu for decades and it truly is a treat whenever I do dine out at the Olive Garden. The Italian term pasta e fagioli is translated to “pasta and beans”. But I would argue that this soup tastes far from a chili.
Pasta e fagioli is a traditional Italian soup. As with lots of favorite Italian foods, this soup was once a “peasant dish”. This is due to the fact that it was made with inexpensive ingredients. Another Italian favorite, pizza, was once a peasant dish as well!
Today we’re going to make a copy cat version of Olive Garden’s pasta e fagioli soup, however if I’m being honest, I think this one tastes even better! And more good news; many of the simple yet flavorful ingredients that go into this pasta e fagioli soup are already hanging out in your pantry. And doesn’t that just make this a weeknight friendly dinner idea?
Pasta e fagioli can be tweaked, however there are a handful of ingredients that are necessary for this soup, primarily cannellini beans, and small pasta such as ditalini or elbow pasta. The soup base is made with tomato paste and water or broth.
What You Need:
1/2 lb ground veal
1 can tomato paste
2 cups boiling water or vegetable broth
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 minced garlic cloves
1 can cannellini beans
2 tbsp butter
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a large pot and add the veal. Break apart the veal in the pot with your spoon. I love veal because it is so tender. Traditionally, Italians would use beef in their pasta e fagioli soup. The difference between beef and veal is that beef is meat from older cattle, and veal is from younger cattle.
Not only is the meat more tender, but it is also milder and requires less seasoning. Additionally, veal is easier for our bodies to digest! And again this is because veal from younger cattle is more tender and succulent as the muscles haven’t been worked as much. Veal is actually healthier as well, containing less cholesterol and fat than beef.
Brown the veal, and add in the garlic and celery. Stir frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may add additional seasonings later into the soup, but adding them now gives the meat and veggies a delightful flavor.
Stir in the tomato paste (or even a can of tomato basil soup), and add boiling water or vegetable stock to thin out the soup. Add the ditalini pasta and cannellini beans and bring back to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and cook until the pasta is al dente.
Taste the soup to see if it requires additional seasoning and add as desired. Finish off with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve hot.
Enjoy with warm bread, a fresh salad, or on its own for lunch or a hearty dinner. Sometimes I add a dollop of sour cream on top. This is coming from a red borscht eating Russian, where sour cream is added to many dishes! But you have to try it. Sour cream adds a delightful creamy flavor.
Can I freeze pasta e fagioli soup? Absolutely! My recommendation is to freeze the soup separately from the pasta. Pasta only takes about 8 minutes to cook, so I like to cook the pasta separately, and reheat the soup in a pot over medium heat. In an airtight container, this soup freezes great for two months.