Pasta Fagioli soup is filled with lean ground beef, beans, and pasta. In a way, it’s an Italian-style chili. Olive Garden’s pasta fagioli has long been a favorite of mine, and I’m so happy to say this recipe is the best copycat version of it!
During my college years, I worked as a waitress at the Olive Garden. I learned a lot about life, and myself, during that time. It’s kind of funny, but I often think I learned more about life working as a waitress than I did during 6 years of college – that includes my Master’s Degree. Nothing can replace real-world experiences.
Olive Garden Pasta Fagioli
Today, when I eat dinner at the Olive Garden I’m always brought right back to that time in my life. I love all the delicious aromas floating in the air. I don’t go there as often as I might like for obvious reasons – I have no self-control when it comes to garlic sticks, salad, soups, and everything else on the menu.
In particular, whenever I do go to Olive Garden, one of my favorite things to order has always been the fagioli soup. Pasta e fagioli is an Italian soup—the name itself means “pasta and beans”, which is what this soup is comprised of, along with ground beef.
I decided it was time for me to make my own version so I could enjoy the Olive Garden pasta fagioli any time I wanted, right at home. This lightened-up version is every bit as good as the original.
It’s hearty without leaving you bloated and warms you right up from head to toe. Honestly, I could eat this soup all day long and thanks to all the healthy ingredients, I can!
Other Olive Garden Copycat Recipes
Besides the fagioli, I have recreated several of my other favorite Olive Garden meals at home. So far I have successfully recreated:
One-Pot Pasta Fagioli Soup
I love easy one-pot meals, don’t you? You can easily make this Pasta fagioli soup in one single pot…yay for less dishes! Plus, it smells incredible as it cooks.
This soup needs about 45 minutes to 1 hour to simmer to guarantee the carrots and celery have softened up. If you find that your soup is a little thick then add some more beef broth until you get the desired consistency, then simmer a bit longer.
How to Add Pasta to the Pasta Fagioli Soup
Also, many of the recipes I found online call for the pasta to be added straight to the soup. I opted not to do this for my Olive Garden Pasta fagioli soup recipe because anytime I put pasta straight into a soup, two things happen.
First of all, the pasta itself becomes way too mushy. Secondly, the pasta soaks up a lot of the soup’s broth, which makes the soup itself thick and glutenous.
Personally, I make my pasta first, set it aside and then make the rest of the soup. When I’m ready to eat, I add the pasta to my bowl then pour the soup over top.
Not only does this make your soup taste better, but it also helps with controlling the amount of pasta you eat.
How to Freeze Pasta Fagioli
If you are looking for an easy way to meal plan, make a double, or even triple, version of this soup and freeze the excess. Then, when you are in the mood for Olive Garden Pasta fagioli soup, you have some ready!
To freeze the soup, simply make as directed in the recipe card below, but do not add the pasta.
In my experience, soup always freezes better without the pasta added to it. So, if you want to freeze this soup leave the pasta out until you are ready to eat.
Then, ladle your fagioli soup into freezer-safe lidded containers, label the date, and freeze. Make sure to only fill the container about 3/4 full, as the liquid will expand as it freezes.
When you are ready to eat it, you can stick it in the microwave for a minute or two. It will become similar to a slushy texture at this point, so give it a couple of scrapes and stirs, then microwave it for another couple of minutes. Repeat until it’s fully warmed. You can also do this on the stovetop if you prefer.
What goes with pasta fagioli?
Olive Garden got this one right—this soup pairs wonderfully with a salad! Breadsticks are nice too, but if you are trying to eat healthy, leave them out and just enjoy the soup as is.
Honestly, this Pasta Fagioli recipe is soooo delicious and is always a HUGE hit in my house – especially with my youngest. She loves it! I could not believe the size of the bowl she ate. If you love the Olive Garden Pasta Fagioli then give this recipe a try.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon basil
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3 cups beef broth, plus more if needed
- 1 (15 ounce can) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce) can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 cups cooked ditalini pasta
- In a 6 quart or larger dutch oven heat up the olive oil. Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and cook until onions are translucent.
- Stir in the oregano, basil, and thyme. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the spices are fragrant.
- Stir in the tomato paste.
- Add the ground beef to onion mixture and sprinkle with the salt. Cook until beef is browned. Break up into small pieces as it cooks.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beef broth, red kidney beans, and white kidney beans.
- Bring to a boil then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until carrots and celery are soft. Add more beef broth if the soup gets too thick.
- Serve with cooked ditalini pasta.
This soup can be made completely ahead of time and frozen. I recommend freezing without the pasta and adding the pasta the day you eat.
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