I know that Olive Garden isn't real Italian food. Really I do. But I still like it. Bobby and I went last night, and before we left we got a Pasta e Fagioli for his sister who was home sick. Now, I've never had their Pasta e Fagioli (which I'm sure bears no resemblance to the actual dish, but Erica assured me was very tasty), but just reading the description made me start thinking about tomatoes, pasta, beans, broth...
It may have been even better in my head than in real life.
Oh, and I have that leftover Beef Provençal from last week that I need to use up. And Erica is sitll sick, which to me means she needs soup... with tomatoes (all that Vitamin C!). So I started thinking about all the flavors I wanted, and what I needed to use. I decided the beans and beef would be a little too much for now, maybe next time. This is what I came up with.
I boiled 1/2 cup of small elbow macaroni in about 1 1/2 cups of well salted water with a little olive oil in it. Before I threw the pasta in, I blanced a handful of pearl onions. After I threw the pasta in the water, I halved and peeled the onions and peeled and thinly sliced 2 cloves of garlic (because my press was dirty). In another pot I heated some olive oil and added the onions and garlic, then seasoned with salt and pepper. I let that sweat a bit, mixing it around occasionally until I started to worry the garlic would brown. I added 1 can diced tomatoes, with juice, 1 cup leftover beef, torn into bite size bits, and 3/4 to 1 cup leftover Beef Provençal sauce. By this time the elbow macaroni was mostly cooked (but not all the way), and I dumped the pasta and pasta water into the tomato mixture. Then I let that simmer while I washed the dishes that had piled up.
My first small bowl was delicious. The broth was tasty (mmm... I love broth), and all the flavors went really well together. The second bowl had less broth, because the noodles had soaked more up at that point. But it was still delicious. This time instead of soup it was more like noodles with meat and tomatoes and onions and flavor.
So far, when I take my leftovers, add a few veggies and some water, maybe some rice or pasta, and some extra seasoning - it has come out wonderful. I don't even use stock - just water. The last time it was leftover baked chicken - cooked some mirepoix, cubed potatoes, and garlic in some olive oil, added water, a whole cooked chicken thigh, wild rice, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Then let it simmer for a while. It may have been some of the best chicken soup I've ever had.
I love soup, and in the past I haven't done well with leftovers. I just don't like the idea of eating the same thing over again most of the time. But I think I'll have to start doing this more often... this morphing of leftovers into soup. Soup is perfect for work, since they keep it like an icebox (earlier this week I had on a cowlneck sweater, a fur lined jacket, and had a lap blanket, folded in half covering my legs and was by no means overly warm).
Also, I'm going to have to try making Pasta e Fagioli. I don't eat many beans, thouh I hear they are good for me. Maybe next week.