I'll admit it- eating at the Olive Garden is one of my guilty pleasures. And the only thing that's better than Olive Garden's Chicken Scampi is their endless soup, salad, and breadsticks special.
I've tried most of the soups, but I always go back to the pasta e fagioli. It's hearty and satisfying, with just the right amount of spice. So when this recipe came across my Google Reader last month, I knew I had to try it. It was quick and easy to throw together after work and was just as satisfying as its restaurant counterpart.
I didn't have a cheese rind, so I just sprinkled a good bit of shredded parmesan into the soup along with the beans. No harm, no foul.
Adapted from Stephanie Cooks, originally from Cook's Illustrated
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 ounces of pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 parmesan cheese rind
2 (15 1/2 oz) cans cannellini beans
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
8 ounces small pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan to top
1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta or bacon, and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, tomatoes (and the juices from the can), scrapping up the brown bits on the bottom. Add cheese rind and beans, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes.
3. Add chicken broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is cooked, about 8-10 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and discard the cheese rind. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls- top with additional shredded parmesan cheese.