Like a lot of you, I am constantly hearing the question: “What’s for dinner?” 

My answer these days is to ask, “What’s around?” 

Hmm, let’s find out.  Half a box of elbow macaroni, an open carton of beef stock, a few cans of beans, and some hamburger. 

What’s a guy to make?  Of course!  My version of Pasta e Fagioli, which translates literally to “pasta and beans.”   

This crowd-pleasing soup is and easy to make and fast to prepare, so get everything ready before the heat hits the bottom of the pot.  

I diced up an onion, sliced up some carrots (because they were around) and opened a few cans.  I tossed in some canned corn tonight because I was short a can of beans.  Then I grabbed some garlic, red pepper flakes and a few spices.  Now, to get started on the actual cooking. 

How to do it:  Put some olive oil in your six-quart pot on medium heat and get it hot. Add the garlic and onions and get them soft and put some color on them. Then, toss in the burger and brown it off, breaking it up pretty good. If there’s a lot of oil, do yourself a favor and drain it off before you continue–no one likes greasy soup!  While the meat is browning, toss in the red pepper flakes and some Italian seasoning mix.  If you don’t have that in your pantry, any combination of parsley, oregano, thyme, and basil with some onion powder will do the trick as well. 

Now, add the rest.  I had cans of diced tomatoes, green beans and cannellini beans along with the corn and diced carrots.  Stir until everything is well mixed, then add in the beef stock. No beef stock? Chicken or veggie stock will work just as well.  Bring it to a low boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.  

While the soup is cooking start a pot of water.  When it comes to a rolling boil, salt the water well and cook your pasta.  Al dente for me. When the pasta is done and the soup is ready, check the seasoning and add salt if you think it needs it.   

Now, it’s time to serve it up. 

Start by putting some pasta on the bottom of the bowl and ladling the soup right over it. Finish it off with a little grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley if you’ve got it. 

How easy was that? 

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