Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Image courtesy of Olive Garden
A long time ago, I was a waitress at the Olive Garden. Now I know there are some of you rolling your eyes and being all smug I hate Olive Garden. I know. Lots of people say they hate Olive Garden. And yet if that many people really hate it, why oh why is it always so crowded? That is what I'd like to know. I will confess here and now that I love chain restaurants. I know the food isn't that great. But it is consistent. And after working in many many restaurants over the years, I know that chains have rules. And this girl? Big on rules when it comes to where her food comes from. Let me give you a couple of examples.

I used to work at a steak house. We served hot sourdough bread at each table. When a table would be cleared, we would put the leftover bread into buckets which were above the bus tubs full of dirty dishes. Now they were high so we'd throw the extra bread up there and hope it landed in the buckets. Was this bread on its way to a park to be fed to pigeons, you ask? No. It was made into croutons. Now when I brought up to my boss that this really wasn't legal he tried to tell me that since the bread is "rebaked" as a crouton, it is perfectly fine as the oven will kill any germs. Um, okay. 

Here's another example. I worked at a family owned Italian restaurant that would garnish plates with a piece of kale and an orange slice. I can neither confirm nor deny that Grandma removed said garnishes from the bus tubs to reuse. Of course this bothered me to no end. When I tried to discuss it with Grandma, she looked at me like I had three heads and said, "Well I rinse them off before I use them!" Like that makes it okay....

Are you wondering if the Olive Garden does things like this with their bread and garnishes? I can tell you they do not. That, my friends, is why I love a chain. They have books full of rules and when it comes to food prepared by strangers, rules are your friend. 

Maybe you're wondering if this recipe came from my days at the Garden. It did not. I have this book called Top Secret Recipes full of restaurant recipes. Curiously, these same recipes are all over the internet so how Top Secret are they really???

Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Top Secret Recipes

1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup julienned carrot
1 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans chopped tomatoes (14 oz each)
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz)
1 can red kidney beans (14 oz)
1 can great northern beans (14 oz)
12 oz V-8
1 tbs white vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
8 ozs small salad macaroni or ditali pasta

  1. In soup pot, brown meat and drain well.  Add onion, carrot and celery and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except for pasta and simmer for about an hour. You can do this in your slow cooker from this point and let it simmer all day on low.
  3. Just before serving, bring large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta al dente and serve with soup.
Since I was talking about rules, let me tell you one of my soup rules. This applies to spinach and pasta in my soups. I don't add them to the soup pot. Instead, I put a spoonful in the soup bowl and then ladle the hot soup over the pasta (or spinach). This way my pasta doesn't get mushy and my spinach doesn't get stringy and any leftover soup really is better the next day.



  1. That's pretty gross about the leftover bread and! I love Olive Garden and I especially love their soups...this sounds amazing!

  2. Yes, aren't you glad to know what I know??? Thanks, Julie - let me know if you make the soup. It is so good and so easy!

  3. Sounds Yummy! One of my fav. Olive garden soups. I LOVE olive Garden

  4. Hey! I didn't know you were a fellow former Olive Garden waitress!! I am obsessed with their bread sticks, lemonade and Zuppa Toscanna. I could eat it yummmmm. My dad and grandma aren't the biggest fans (she's from Italy and says their food isn't "real". Whatever that means), but I'm pretty sure they've gone crazy. =)