This homemade version of Olive Garden's Pasta e Fagioli is indeed better than the restaurant! It is chock full of fresh, quality ingredients. Both hearty and healthy, with a robust flavor that is mouthwatering.
In a large heavy pot, cook pasta in salted boiling water, just until barely al dente. Do not overcook; about 1 minute under al dente is good. Drain, rinse with cold water, and toss with a sprinkle of olive oil. Set aside.
In same large pot, heat 2 TB olive oil over medium high heat. Add beef, garlic powder, onion powder, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Cook and break up into small pieces. Transfer cooked beef into a bowl and set aside.
Heat remaining 2 TB olive oil in same pot. Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, cooking until tender, 4-5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add tomato sauce, chicken broth, canned tomatoes with juices, sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, fennel seeds, and marjoram. Add cooked beef back in. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add back cooked pasta into the pot, along with all beans. Simmer 5 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with fresh parmesan.
* For leftovers: If pasta absorbs too much liquid in the soup, simply add chicken broth until desired consistency is reached, during reheating.