Bertucci's Corporation, a casual-dining chain, owns a collection of full-service Italian restaurants that operate under the name "Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizzeria." During the early years of the 21st century there were roughly 80 Bertucci's restaurants scattered throughout the northeastern United States, each of which featured wood-fired brick ovens, which cook hotter than conventional pizza ovens, and served Tuscan-styled food, including gourmet pizzas, salads, soups, seafood, and pasta dishes. Founded in suburban Boston by Joseph Crugnale, Bertucci's expanded quickly during the 1980s and 1990s, growing from a single restaurant in 1981 to a sprawling restaurant chain by the mid-1990s. N.E. Restaurant Co. Inc., Bertucci's owner since 1998, adopted the Bertucci's name in 2001.

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Pasta Fagioli Soup


PASTA FAGIOLI SOUP
Bertucci's Brick Oven Copycat Recipe

1 lb lean ground beef or mild Italian sausage
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
3 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
3-4 cups beef broth (chicken broth works fine too)
1 cup water
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup ditalini pasta, uncooked
1 (15 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
Romano cheese (parmesan is good, too), for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, crumble in ground beef or sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Put beef into a bowl, set aside. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in same large saucepan, saute carrots, celery and onion over medium high heat until tender for about 4 minutes, add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

Reduce heat to a low, add tomato sauce, beef broth, water, canned tomatoes, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, cooked beef along, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with lid and allow to simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies are soft.

Meanwhile prepare ditalini pasta according to directions on package, cooking to al dente. Add cooked and drained pasta to soup along with kidney beans, great northern beans and an additional 1 cup broth if desired to thin soup, and allow to cook 5 minutes longer. Serve warm with grated Romano cheese if desired.

Notes:  Pasta Fagioli is usually made with cannellini beans and some type of small pasta in a tomato based broth seasoned with Italian spices. The longer the soup rests the more liquid the pasta will absorb so you can thin it with additional beef broth if desired or keep the cooked pasta separate amd add to the bowl just before serving.

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