Olive Garden Evening at Home with Friends

Table Set and Ready for Our GuestsFriends and Food. Two words that blend as well as the finest sangria. Add to that some delicious Italian food made by hand and now we’re talking. You just can’t beat a beautifully prepared meal and the enjoyment of sharing it with others. We had the pleasure of having friends over a few weeks ago to celebrate the start of spring and catch up after a long, grey winter.

The idea all started while my friend and I were out for a girls-only day of shopping, and happened to have lunch at Olive Garden. I mentioned to her that I had a fantastic recipe for Pasta E Fagioli soup, and we came up with the notion to get our families together for dinner. Calendars were consulted, a date was picked, and I went home to plan.

Pasta E Fagioli Soup Simmering on the Stove
This is a great recipe that you can prepare ahead of time, and even put in the crockpot to simmer all day if you want. (If you’re going to use the crockpot, make sure that you beef is browned before adding it to the soup, and only put the cooked pasta in right at the end so that it stays al dente).

For those of you thinking that soup is a bit of a ho-hum idea for a dinner get-together, I beg to differ. There’s not much that can outshine Olive Garden’s famous soup, salad and breadsticks, and I was planning for the whole shebang. Fresh, hot out of the oven, bakery garlic sticks, chunky, meaty soup and of course, an amazing tossed salad complete with all the fixings and the official Olive Garden dressing (brought over by our guests); isn’t your mouth watering already? Your taste buds are in for such a treat!

Print VersionOfficial Tétrault Pasta E Fagioli Recipe
  • 5 cups (40oz) Motts Clamato juice
  • 3 ¼ cups (26oz) diced tomatoes (in its juice)
  • 1 ¾ cups (14oz) consommé soup
  • 1 ¾ cups (14oz) water
  • 3 tbsp chicken soup base
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp hot paprika
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • ½ cabbage, shredded (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups corkscrew or ditalini pasta
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Bring all liquid to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. While liquid is simmering, sauté vegetables and set aside. In same pan used for vegetables, brown ground beef. Add vegetables to liquids, and simmer for another 30 minutes. Add beans, beef and pasta to the soup and simmer for another 20 minutes. Serve hot with grated Parmesan cheese.

As Night Fell…
Waiting Patiently to Dig In
Katrina’s waiting patiently to dig into her dinner.

We had such a fantastic evening, the sun was out and everyone was in terrific spirits, ready to shed the last dregs of winter. It was a little cool to eat outside, but after dinner we took ourselves and our glasses of wine out to watch the kids run around and the sun start to set.

This adventure that we’re on, Trading Desks for Dirt, is as much about our family and friends as it is about turning our property into a homestead. It’s about each and every step of the way, working side by side and teaching our children the value of learning life skills, working with your hands, and being creative. We are excited to share this story with you, and are looking forward to many more nights on our front porch, leaning back, listening to the crickets sing and watching our family grow.


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