Copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli

You don’t even need to leave the house for it!

How can you even pick a favorite Olive Garden soup? It’s a nearly impossible task. While heading back to the restaurant to try them all time and time again could really drain the old wallet, the good news is you can easily make all of your favorites at home and get the same amazing flavor. It’s more economical and you get tons of leftovers to enjoy. Win win! One of my favorites is their Pasta e Fagioli. It’s hearty but not overbearing and the balance of herbs, tender beans, chewy ditalini pasta, and savory beef swimming in a tomato-kissed broth is just about perfect.

I personally love a meal that takes less than thirty minutes to make and this soup should come in well under that, closer to twenty minutes if you’re a particularly fast chopper. And there’s not a lot to chop. While the soup has a very nice layered flavor, the ingredient list isn’t unwieldy by any means.

You start by browning some ground beef and then tossing some carrots, onions, celery, and garlic into the pot. (After all, most great soups start with that group of four, no?)

Once the veggies have softened, you stir in some tomato sauce, beef broth, diced tomatoes, and some thyme and oregano. You let that simmer for a bit before you stir in the ditalini. Once the pasta is tender, you stir in the beans and let them bubble just until they’re heated through.

You can also opt to boil the pasta in a separate pot while the veggies simmer and then stir the cooked pasta into the soup. It cuts down on cooking time by a bit, but since it requires another pot, I prefer this method. Plus it’s nice how the ditalini absorbs some of that delicious broth!

Copycat Pasta e Fagioli

Serves 6-8; 30 minutes

Ingredients
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans beef broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 8 oz dry ditalini pasta
  • 1 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preparation
  1. Brown ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  2. When beef is almost cooked through, add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  3. Add tomato sauce, beef broth, 1/2 cup water, canned tomatoes, sugar, oregano, and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Let simmer 5 minutes, stir in ditalini pasta, and continue cooking until vegetables are soft and pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes more.
  5. Add beans, season to taste with salt and pepper, and thin with more water, if desired.
  6. Serve with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy.