It’s September and that means soup season is FINALLY here!!!! I can now make and eat soup anytime I want to and no one can look at me funny! hah Although, I must tell you… I was utterly SHOCKED at how popular my Chicken Tortilla Soup post was in the dead heat of August… so I know there are other summer (and year-round for that matter) soup lovers out there! 😉

Okay, I have always been a huge fan of Pasta Fagioli Soup. My love for it was first ignited at The Olive Garden back when I was probably a middle schooler or so (Circa: 1998-1999). All you can eat soup, salad, and breadsticks? Um YES PLEASE. I’m pretty sure it was breadstick love at first… but needing something to dip those butterly sticks of carb glory in, the Pasta Fagioli quickly became a necessity. I was a pudgy middle schooler (if you couldn’t guess)… I outweighed my older brother at the time who thought it was HILARIOUS to snort at me and ask me “What’s for dinner?!” (thanks, dude! HAH). I was a late bloomer. Thankfully the family height genes kicked in, I grew, and everything evened out. Praise the good Lord for that.

Anyhow, Dan (that’s my big bro btw), FYI: what’s for dinner is THIS SOUP. 😉

Anyway, enough of walking down memory lane – I decided that it was high time that I made some of this pasta fagioli soup for myself! I searched the blogosphere saw some recipes used bacon, and others used sausage; I thought, what the heck, let’s do both! I put in it what I wanted in it… and you know what? It was fresh, filling, comforting… and down right delicious. I’m a lover of most all soups, but this one is WAAAAAY up there on the top of my list! Absolutely incredible.

Note: This recipe make A. LOT. of soup. We’re talking 7 quarts!!! I call that a WINNER. I froze about half of the batch to be re-heated and served up again when the weather cools off… and I still had leftovers for my lunch AND hubby’s lunch! double score. Talk about an INEXPENSIVE meal when you consider the amount of servings!

Oh, and did I mention it is really REALLY good??!

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Pasta Fagioli Soup

Yield: 6-7 quarts

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 4-6 hours

Total Time: 4-6 hours

If you don't like a little heat, use regular italian sausage and omit the red pepper flakes!

Ingredients:

1 pound spicy italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 pound bacon, sliced into 3/4 inch pieces
4-5 stalks of celery, chopped (about 2 cups)
4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
1 onion, diced (about 3 cups)
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (15.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans
4-5 cloves garlic, grated
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
crushed red pepper to taste (1/4- 1/2 teaspoon)
32 ounces low sodium chicken broth
32 ounces low sodium beef broth
8-16 ounces pasta (diatelli)

Directions:

Spray a large (7 quart) Crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. In a large non-stick skillet, cook the sausage over medium high heat until browned (break apart using your spatula). Place cooked sausage into a the Crockpot. Add bacon to skillet and cook until extra crispy; add bacon and drippings into Crockpot as well.

Next, add celery, carrots, onion, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, cannellini beans, and garlic. Stir in seasonings (salt, garlic powder, parsley, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper. Lastly, stir in chicken and beef broth. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

30 minutes before serving, add the pasta and allow to cook. If you want a thick soup add the full 16 ounce box (that's how we like ours!). If you want it more "soupy" just add half a box (8 ounces). Top with some freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve with a nice crusty white bread for dunking. DELICIOUS!