Easy Dinner Recipe: Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli

September 20, 2014

Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans) is the Italian version of chili mac.  Small circular pasta is cooked in a beefy tomato sauce seasoned with garlic and basil and topped with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.  The soup requires very little preparation beforehand and comes together in the slow cooker.  For a lighter version of this dish, substitute the ground beef for ground turkey. I like to serve this thick and delicious Italian soup with a piece of crusty garlic bread.

Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups(32 ounces) beef stock
1 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium carrots, diced in 1/4 inch cubes
1 celery rib, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil  
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup ditalini or other small pasta
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil to the pan, enough to coat the bottom.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened and appears translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the ground beef and cook until browned,  Drain the meat on a plate lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess fat.

Meanwhile, chop the carrots and celery and prepare the remaining ingredients.

Transfer the ground beef mixture to a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Stir in pasta. Cover and cook on high 30 minutes longer or until pasta is tender.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve in bowls and garnish with a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

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