You guys, I'm pretty excited about this soup - it's hands down one of the best I've ever had! It tastes exactly like lasagna, except, you know, in soup form. This means it's way faster (and easier!) to make than traditional lasagna AND it's much lighter, since it has way less cheese. Thankfully, this soup is so good you really don't miss the extra cheese - and that's coming from a cheese-obsessed girl who generally follows the mantra "the more cheese the better" :) Anyway, this soup manages to be filling, delicious, and comforting, without being overly creamy and cheesy, which is definitely a win. I know I'll be making it lots over the next few months, and hope you give it a try!
- 8 oz. curly pasta (I used Tortiglioni, but elbows or rotini would be good, too)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1/2-1 lb. ground beef or ground turkey, optional
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 28 oz. diced tomatoes (I love the Italian style, with garlic, oregano & basil added)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 8 oz. ricotta
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, optional
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain pasta well, and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add the Italian sausage to the skillet and cook until browned, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks. If also using ground beef, add the beef to the pot at the same time, and brown until cooked through, making sure to crumble it as well. *Note: I was wanting to make a heartier, more protein-packed soup, which is why I added the ground beef, but it's not necessary, flavor-wise.
When the sausage is cooked through, drain excess fat from the pan. Add the minced garlic, onion, oregano, red pepper flakes, and half of the fresh basil to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste until it's well combined, and equally distributed in the mixture.
Stir in the chicken stock, diced tomatoes and bay leaves. Season generously with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, while the soup is simmering, combine the ricotta and grated parmesan in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine.
Once the soup has thickened slightly, it's ready to serve. Add some of the cooked pasta to the bottom of soup bowls, top with some of the ricotta mixture, then spoon the soup over the pasta. If desired, top with more ricotta mixture, shredded mozzarella, the remaining fresh basil, and enjoy! *Note: To eliminate one of those plating steps, you can also just add the cooked pasta directly to the pot of soup at the very end, and serve immediately. I chose not to do that because I'm admittedly neurotic about over-cooked pasta - it genuinely pisses me off if it gets overly soft/mushy. So if you're neurotic about pasta like me, I did find that spooning the soup over the pasta kept it al dente, warmed it up, and coated it well. However, if you're not a total weirdo about pasta done-ness, feel free to add it directly to the soup :)
*Recipe adapted from Damn Delicious