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Yesterday I came in from the back yard with a hand full of four leaf clovers…
You know, some people think that four leaf clovers are hard to find but when I was a little girl my mother could always walk right up to a clover patch, look down for a few seconds, and pluck one right up.
It seemed she had a special gift for finding clovers, and as I grew older I came to realize she had a special gift for finding a lot of good things. In the middle of the worst storm, Mama could find a song to sing. When we came home with a bad hair cut, Mama could point out the one thing that made it just perfect and turn everyone’s opinion right around. When our school friends went away on trips we could never afford, Mama would invite all the neighborhood kids over to play in our back yard and fill our days with homemade popsicles and hosepipe tag.
She could find good in any situation as easily as looking down at a patch of hundreds of clovers and plucking out the one with four leaves on it.
I spent my childhood looking to her as my example and this morning, I got to thinking about those clovers and how much better I am at finding them now that I’m older. Now, when I walk outside and come back in with a handful of four leaf clovers my daughter exclaims with delight that I must be really good at finding them! I just smile and tell her that they’re there for anyone who looks. Like the special little moments in life, pockets of happiness, and reasons to be grateful.
Four leaf clovers aren’t rare. The people who take time to look for them are.
~takes a moment to look at the picture and let it sink in~
Alrighty, time to package my heart back up and get on to the cooking!
If you’ve never had this soup, you’re in for a treat and a half. It’s kind of like an Italian version of chili – and my family LOVES it!
There are all sorts of variations of Pasta Fagoli out there. Translated from Italian, it simply means “Pasta and Beans” and is traditionally an economical meatless dish. I like to add meat to mine but you can certainly leave it out.
I was originally inspired to make it due to my favorite soup, salad, and breadsticks treat at the local Olive Garden. This is not the exact recipe Olive Garden uses, of course, but it is close. This is also not the exact recipe found around the web, but it’s close enough to those, too. My recipe is a little more streamlined and makes about half as much as the other recipes do. My recipe makes about 4 quarts, which is a reasonable amount for a family. Leftovers reheat and even freeze really well, too.
You’ll need: Kidney Beans, Navy Beans, Beef Broth, Crushed Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, Matchstick carrots (or carrots you cut yourself), diced onions, small ring pasta (or small pasta of your choice), and browned ground beef.
Note: I was tired the day I made this and decided to cook up some ground beef. As soon as I got it into the skillet I went and sat down to gift myself with a little time reading my latest Tamera Alexander novel…a while later I remembered my ground beef. Needless to say, it was a little overcooked but the beauty was that I was browning it for this recipe and since this is a slow cooked soup, that gives the overly cooked ground beef time to soften up a bit. Crisis averted. You know, really, most crises can be averted if we just refuse to let them become crisis in the first place, don’t you think?
You’re gonna need some seasonings, too. I’m using salt, dried parsley, and dried Italian seasoning.
Now if you’ve been with me a long time you may be thinking “Christy sure does use Italian seasoning a lot!”.
If you’re thinking that, you’re right.
I like it.
For me, it is the ketchup of dried herb blends! Having said that, if you would prefer to make it a little more complicated, feel free to come up with your own herb blend. I’m sure it will be great – or just give yourself a break and do it my way. It’s not like you don’t work hard enough as it is.
So basically, you dump everything in a slow cooker except for your pasta. I drained my beans but it’ll be just fine if you’d rather not.
Dump, dump, dump, dump, then….
Now put the lid on it and let it cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
About half an hour before serving, stir in your pasta and put the lid back on so it can get done.
Top it with fresh grated parmesan if you want or just go my route and use some mozzarella. There is no rule that says you can’t use whatever cheese your heart desires – and if you find that rule written somewhere, just go ahead and break it.
C’mon, be a rebel with me. 🙂 Speaking of rebels, we should start our own gang. We can wear yoga pants and ride Schwinn’s – the kind with the big comfy seats, not those factory puppies that give you a total of two square inches to balance your entire body weight on. We’ll get those little horns that honk like we had when were were kids and big tall flags to go on the back of our bikes so when we’re about to crest a hill, the kids will know we’re a coming! I used to have a battery operated loudspeaker on my bicycle with a little cb type handset that let me talk to people as I passed and that could come in real handy, too. “Hey Amy! What’s for supper?” as we drive by a friend’s house. Or the occasional “EHHH!” really loud if we see a kid, dog, or random person about to do something they should know better than to do. ~giggles~ That would be fun. Remind me to start a gang in my spare time. Y’all go ahead and pick out a name...
Oh look, our soup is done! If there are any leftovers, they refrigerate and even freeze well. I thought I’d have leftovers from this but after teenage son ate two bowls and husband ate three…then I myself came back for another bowl…it disappeared pretty fast.
- 1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage, browned and drained
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 cup matchstick carrots or 1 cup finely diced carrots
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 15 ounce can kidney beans drained
- 15 ounce can navy or Cannelloni or navy beans drained
- 15 ounce can beef stock
- 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup dried pasta I'm using little rings.
- Place everything but the pasta into a 5-6 quart slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover with lid and cook on low, 7-8 hours or high, 3-4 hours.
- Thirty minutes before serving, stir in pasta and cover again until pasta is done (about 20 minutes).
- Serve topped with shredded cheese if you like.
To make on stove top, combine all ingredients except for pasta. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add pasta and continue to cook for 15 minutes more, or until pasta is done.
Makes about 4 quarts.
How many does it serve? Well that depends. If you are a hungry NFL football player, this serves one. If you are a 90 pound woman who eats like bird, this serves 20-25. If you are a family of five who loves a good hearty soup, this will serve about 5. Serving amount is terribly relative and always a best guess either way you go so just grab a bowl and dig in!
There are four things you cannot recover: The Stone—after the throw, The Word–after it’s said, The Occasion–after the loss, The Time–after it’s gone.
~Anonymous, submitted Faye Hillard (thanks, Faye!). Click here to submit your own
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