When I lived in CT, I lived for the winters so I could make cold weather foods like soups and stews. Now that I live in FL, the cold days are few and far between but when they happen, I make the most of them. And this week the cold days are here to stay for the near future. That makes it a great time to share a couple of my favorite recipes.
The first one is a pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans). I got the recipe from my father-in-law who had cut it out of the local papaer back in CT. He said it was the Olive Garden's recipe but my guess is that meant it was a copycat recipe. To be honest, I've never had their pasta e fagioli however I do love their sausage soup. This is one of my husband's favorites and he requests it all the time.
Pasta e fagioli
1 lb ground beef (I use turkey)
1 small onion, dices
1 large carrot, julienned (I just chop it)
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce
12 oz can of V8 (I use the low sodium one)
2 cans of diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz each (or you can use a 28 oz can. I personally hate cooked tomato chunks so I use crushed tomatoes)
1 can each great northern beans and red kidney beans, 15 oz. cans
1 tbs. white vinegar
1/2 lb ditalini pasta (I use a pound)
Salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste
Brown the meat over medium heat and drain the fat. Add the vegetables and garlic and saute for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the pasta and simmer for 1 hour. About 10 minutes into the simmer time, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add pasta to soup and simmer 5-10 minutes more before serving.
Now, I do not add all the pasta to the soup. I add pasta (drained, obviously) to each bowl and pour the soup over it. If I have leftovers, I keep them separate because if you don't, the pasta sucks up all the liquid and it gets mushy and nasty. Just toss the pasta with a little olive oil and keep it in the fridge separately. Then just add it to the end when you heat up the leftovers. This goes for all soups with any type of pasta.
Now on to my personal favorite, potato leek soup. I have no idea where I got this recipe and I just follow it loosely. But, I know not everyone likes to wing it so this is the actual recipe.
Potato Leek Soup
3 potatos, diced (I use Yukon Gold)
3 leeks, well cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme (If using dry use half that amount)
6-6 1/2 C chicken broth (I use the low fat, low sodium version or you can use veggie broth if you want to keep it vegetarian)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook about 10 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and thyme and cook about 5 minutes more. Add the chicken broth and increase heat. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender or regular blender. Return the puree to the heat and add the potaoes. Simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and mash the potatoes then puree the mixture again. Season with salt and pepper before serving. I like mine with crusty bread (yeah, I know...carb overload) and a dollop of sour cream on the top.
There's nothing like soup on a cold winter day. Enjoy!