Pasta e Fagioli (secret recipe of the Olive Garden's version)
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 large carrot, julienned (1 cup)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 15 ounce can red kidney beans (with liquid)
1 15 ounce can great northern beans (with liquid)
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 12 ounce can V-8 juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 pound (1/2 package) ditali pasta (I use salad macaroni)
Brown the ground beef and drain off the fat. Put browned ground beef into large pot, then use frying pan to saute onion, carrot, celery & garlic in a little olive oil for 10 minutes.
Then add to soup pot. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the pasta and simmer for at least 1 hour.
Cook the pasta in 1-1/2 to 2 quarts of boiling water over high heat for about 10 minutes. The pasta should be slightly tough at the end of 10 minutes. Drain and add the pasta to the large pot of soup after it's simmered for at least 1 hour. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes and the pasta will then become soft.
Serves at least 8 people. I'm sure this would be wonderful to freeze if there's not 8 people at your house.