Must-Have Soup Recipe: Pasta Fagioli

pasta_fagioli_regimageAs an all-time winter favorite meal of mine, nothing spells comfort food as well as a warm bowl of soup (especially if it happens to have alphabet-shaped noodles in it).

Plenty of veggies and healthy goodies thrown in, perfect for a week's worth of leftovers and lunches, and an absolute go-to meal for warming up your loved ones on a chilly winter night -- the soup's on at our house at least once a week throughout the fall and winter.

I recently came across Brown Eyed Baker's recipe for pasta fagioli while looking at her treat ideas for our Thanksgiving sweets round-up. Though I've made up many variations of this one-pot meal in the past, I decided to stay disciplined this time and to follow her recipe from beginning to end.

My mother is a strong believer that soup can remedy almost all problems big and small, and I have to say that I agree. This pasta fagioli is nothing short of delicious -- hearty, filling, it earned two thumbs up from my 6-year-old niece -- which always lets me know when I've done some justice. (That little one is a serious food critic in the making...) And considering I got one picky eater to eat her veggies for a night with a grin on her face and an empty bowl at the end of the meal, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't grinning as well. In between big spoonfuls, of course.

Pasta Fagioli
As seen on Brown Eyed Baker

2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 package sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (or 1 lb. ground beef)
1/2 large (or medium) onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 carrots, thinly sliced
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed (we used great northern beans)
64 oz. beef broth
28 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
4 oz. small, dry pasta (we used ditalini)

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large stockpot over medium high heat, and brown the sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. Once brown, remove sausage from pot with a slotted spoon and discard any grease that remains in the pot.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in the same pot, and add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery, and saute over medium heat until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add sausage back to the pot, add the can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), stir briefly, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the beans, and add the beef broth and tomato sauce. Add in all of the seasonings, stir well, turn the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, turn down to low heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Add the dry pasta and continue to simmer on low for another 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite bread or crackers.

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