Call me a bored cook but I'm always on the lookout for new recipes. My AT&T home page has one almost every day, I've "liked" the Crockin' Girls on Facebook in an effort to gather more good crockpot recipes and I'm amazed at how many recipes show up on message boards and blogs I frequent on my lap around the Internet.
Fortunately, I have a spouse who's quite happy to engage in a little culinary experimentation but I know how far to press my luck. Recipes with strange ingredients or things I know he doesn't like never make it to the print stage, and I often mention that I saw a recipe for such-and-such, would he be interested in trying it. And he almost always says yes. In fact, he commented just the other night that contrary to the stereotype of people getting more and more set in their ways as they age, we were getting more adventurous in our eating.
And with all experimentations, there are a few misses. You know...the ones where the printout goes into the trash instead of the recipe box. That would be the pork roast and white bean one I made a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with it; it just tasted like plain ol' pork and beans. If I wanted that, I'd have bought them in a can. Still, we didn't starve.
This one, however, was a hit:
It's a copycat recipe of Olive Garden's Pasta e Fagioli soup, one of my favorite when I go there. In fact soup, salad and breadsticks is my go-to meal when the restaurant choice is Olive Garden. And we're coming into prime soup-making time; there's just something so comforting about a bowl of hot homemade soup on a cold night.
The recipe, which you can find here, was a pretty good duplication of the soup especially with some of the helpful suggestions found in the comments section. To start with, I substituted ground turkey for the ground beef to make it a bit more healthy. That's pretty much standard in my kitchen these days for soups, spaghetti sauce and chili. And I used spicy V-8 juice instead of the plain...and more of it too. I'd guess twice the amount called for in the recipe; I just eyeballed it until the mixture had a soup-like consistency. Even with the spicy V-8, I thought it was a little bland when I tasted it so I upped the herbs and added 1/2 tsp. cumin and some red pepper flakes. Obviously, you can play around with this to suit your taste buds.
I put mine in the crockpot just because I had other things to do in the afternoon and that worked out fine. The house smelled so yummy when I came back in. And I heeded the warnings that adding the cooked pasta to the soup made it too thick. You could overcome that with extra V-8 or even some stock but I just served the pasta on the side and we each added it to the soup as we ladled it in the bowl.
Wayne agreed this one was definitely a keeper and I feel sure we'll be making more of it in the coming months. What have you made lately that's earned a spot in your family's dinner rotation?