Friday, February 10, 2012

Lasagna Soup

Here in the Pacific Northwest we are in the mid of winter.  During January, Mother Nature pretty much bombarded us with every form of precipitation possible.  Snow? Yes. Ice? Of course. Rain? Freezing rain, freezing fog, slush, sleet, blah blah blah!  Basically layer after layer of mess.

Thankfully the last few weeks have been rather mild.  Bits of rain and fog here and there, but temps that aren't too cold and (thankfully) no snow or ice.  There is one good thing about winter though.  You can cook and bake to your heart's content and not worry about the house getting too hot or the soft fluff developing around your mid-section (That's what puffy coats and warm sweaters were made for.  Besides its cold out, you need the extra insulation)!
I couldn't be happier.  I have no where I need to go and nothing that has to be done (outside of the usual laundry and house cleaning).  The pantry and freezer are stocked, and the power is on.  What more could you need in the middle of winter?  Well, good food of course!

We had the most amazing dinner the other night.  It was called Lasagna Soup and I found it here.

Aaahh. Comfort and warmth in a bowl.  And not to mention wickedly delicious. 

I did make a few small changes to the recipe.  For instance I used 1/2 pound, each, of spicy Italian sausage and sweet Italian sausage.  I would also add more chicken stock or water during the cooking process, as the liquid tends to cook down, especially if you simmer it for a while, which I did.

Here's my method:
Lasagna Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
1/2 lb spicy Italian sausage
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
28 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6-8 cups chicken stock
8 oz pasta (I used campanelle)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper

8 oz part skim ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of fresh ground pepper
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add sausage and break apart, brown (about 5 minutes).  Add onions, cook until soft (about 5 more minutes).  Add garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, stir to combine.  Add paste, stirring until paste turns deep red (a couple of minutes).  Add canned diced tomatoes (juice included), 6 cups chicken stock, and bay leaf.   Stir until all is combined and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes (longer if you can stand it).  Add remaining chicken stock as needed.
Combine all 'cheese' ingredients except for the mozzarella.  Set aside until mealtime. 
When you're ready to eat, cook pasta according to package directions minus a minute.  You want the pasta to still be slightly firm to the bite (al dente).  Place a scoop of ricotta cheese mixture (about 1/4 cup) in the bottom of a bowl.  Top with the same amount of pasta.  Top with a ladle of soup.  Garnish with mozzarella cheese. 
If there are any leftovers (and that's a big if!), store each layer separately.  The pasta would absorb too much of the soup liquid otherwise.  

Enjoy.  Really, I don't know how you couldn't!   Have a wonderful weekend.

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