Today we have a little something beefy for all the carnivores out there who turn their noses up at mere soup. And a little something something with beans for the bean lovers. Two kinds actually. We have your regular kidney beans and great northern beans or cannellini beans, which I can never seem to spell right. So beans, check.
And then we have a rich, hearty tomato-based Italian-inspired broth to marry them all together. And finally, super cute ditalini pasta. If you’re not familiar with it, imagine Super Mario pipes cut into tiny bite-sized pieces. It’s small enough to not be too chewy for a soup but big enough to add some substance. I’m in love.
Toss in some seasoning, some Worcestershire sauce (just because it’s awesome and needs to be in almost everything), a little sugar to balance out the tartness from the tomato broth and some Parmesan shavings to top it all up once you’re ready to break out the spoons. Make it soupy with extra beef broth or keep it at a chili-like consistency. It’s up to you.
Hungry yet? Let’s go!
I’ll preface this by saying that technically, you can toss everything in the slow cooker and whistle while you walk off for 8 hours. But sauteing the veggies beforehand brings out the most bang for your buck flavor-wise, so I did that. I also browned the ground beef to drain off all the rendered fat, so it doesn’t dilute the soup. And I added in the beans and pasta (already cooked) towards the end so the beans don’t break down and get mushy and the pasta doesn’t get soggy.
So try it this way if you have the time. It may make a difference! You can also try adding in the uncooked pasta towards the last 30 minutes to cook it in the soup as well. Just make sure there’s enough liquid to cover it all. Anyway, back to the beginning (cue rewind noise in head), we brown the beef, drain all fat and set that aside. Then we saute the veggies for about 5 minutes. Just until tender.
Now you”re ready to throw it all in the slow cooker and walk away. Add in the rest of the ingredients and seasonings except for the beans and pasta and simmer on low for 8 hours to get the flavors to marry. I added some sugar in the seasonings to balance out the tartness and acidity of the tomatoes like I always do. Try one tablespoon first, do a taste test and then decide if you want to add in the other. Or if you like the tartness, leave out the sugar.
I also added some red pepper flakes to taste just to kick things up a little. Once it’s all done, toss in the cooked pasta and beans and mix it all up. And that is it. Don’t forget the Parmesan and if you want something fresh to garnish with, try some parsley or basil.
- 1 lb. lean ground beef/Italian sausage
- ½ yellow onion, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- 2 celery hearts, sliced
- 1 can (16 oz.) tomato sauce
- 1 can (15 oz.) fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 can (12 oz.) V-8 juice
- 3-4 cups beef broth
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup ditalini pasta, cooked al dente
- 1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained
- 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans/great northern beans, drained
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- Over medium high heat, brown the beef until cooked. Drain any fat and remove beef and set aside
- In the same pot, add some olive oil and saute onions, garlic, carrots and celery until vegetables start to sweat, about 5 minutes
- Transfer vegetables and cooked beef to a slow cooker
- Pour in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, V-8 juice and beef broth and stir to mix
- Add in basil, oregano, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and salt and pepper to taste
- Cook on low for 8 hours
- Add cooked pasta and beans and stir to mix
- Dish and serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese