The weather has been getting cooler and cooler and I decided to start our new Soup Sunday Family Night. The kids had been asking when we would start back up and I announced October 12th! Wouldn't you know the day was fairly warm? GRRRR..... I even had to flip the air conditioner on because the soups were making the house too hot. Oh well! We were together, we talked, we played, we ate soup. Who am I to complain about the temperature? I am still hoping for some good soup weather on the upcoming Sundays, though!!
So, what was on the menu? I made a potato soup and Pasta E Fagioli. We had a salad similar to the kind Olive Garden serves with the black olives and pepperoncini. I gave the choice of Ranch Dressing or an Italian dressing. We also had a huge loaf of french bread. I just sliced it and heated it to get it all warm and just ever so lightly toasted. We had 9 people for dinner.
I'll give the recipe and then comment below. First up....
Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli (copied from CDKitchen)
3 teaspoons Oil
2 pounds Ground beef
12 ounces Onion; chopped
14 ounces Carrots; slivered
14 ounces Celery; diced
48 ounces Tomatoes; canned, diced
2 cups cooked Red Kidney beans
2 cups cooked White kidney beans
88 ounces Beef stock
3 teaspoons Oregano
2 1/2 teaspoons Pepper
5 teaspoons Parsley; (fresh chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
48 ounces Spaghetti sauce
8 ounces dry pasta Shell macaroni; or other pasta
Preparation: Sauté beef in oil in large 10-qt. pot until beef starts to brown. Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and add to the pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce, and noodles. Add chopped parsley. Simmer until celery and carrots are tender, about 45 minutes. Makes 9 qts. of soup! **Just cut the recipe in 1/2 for smaller family needs!
I made the full 9 quarts of soup! I heard many positive comments about it and several went back for just a little more. ;) I was able to freeze a good amount for another soup Sunday in the future. (probably sometime in December when life gets crazy, but I'll make one other pot of soup fresh for that dinner) One thing to note...I cooked the pasta separate and had everyone just add a scoop to their soup bowls. My reasons? Well, I read that the pasta gets too mushy cooked in the soup for so long...plus if you want to freeze it or eat leftovers, the pasta gets even mushier. So, I just put a little butter on the shells to keep them from getting all sticky and popped them into a food storage bag for the leftovers. When I thaw out the soup I froze, I will make a fresh pot of pasta. :)
Jane's Potato Soup (from "Cooking with Paula Deen", January/February 2008)
1 (30 ounce) bag frozen hash-brown potatoes
3 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
Garnish: minced green onion...(we also added Real Bacon Bits)
In a 6 quart electric slow cooker, combine potatoes, broth, soup, onion and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. Stir in cream cheese; cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until combined. Garnish with green onion (and bacon bits), if desired.
This one was really good!! It's also the one I ate. I didn't have room for the other soup, though...so I will eat that one tonight for dinner. There were positive comments all around the table, although a few remember another potato soup that I made that had lots of cheese and they thought that one was better. (however....I have no clue what soup that was and don't think I have a recipe anymore....ever do that??) Even still, they said they enjoyed this one, too. I used the shredded hash browns for this soup. I also, microwaved the cream cheese a bit to get it really soft. Then I added a ladle full of hot soup to the bowl with the soft cream cheese and mixed it well. Then I added that to the crockpot. It helped to get the cream cheese throughout the soup without it all getting lumpy. Basically, it saved me some work even though it was work in itself. This is definitely an easy, peasy soup that is worth making again for a group. I can see myself throwing this together for a ladies' dinner. Hmmm, think I will have to have a "girl's night" at my house, now!! :)