Need a special meal to cook for your Valentine? Or just a no-fail staple recipe? I have one for you today! This one never, ever fails to please family and friends, and while it looks and tastes fancy, it doesn’t require any Herculean efforts in the kitchen.
Not a fan of lasagna? You may still want to give lasagna soup a try. It’s just tastier, I say… Let me tell you a little story about lasagna.
A few years ago I went on a trip with a school group. We were very graciously fed by a variety of thoughtful hosts throughout this trip, which lasted about 2 ½ weeks. And nearly every dinner consisted of lasagna, spaghetti, or pizza. Especially lasagna. Although I dearly love variety in my food life, this dietary monotony would normally pose only a minor annoyance.
I was about 2 months pregnant and in the height of morning sickness. As many of you know, finding anything to eat that won’t hit the puke reflex is difficult in these circumstances. It was a little difficult to ride on a bus all day long as well as have almost no control over what I ate. And then there was lasagna. Every. Single. Day. Now don’t mistake me—I did everything in my power to hide my discomfort from my hosts, who were wonderful. I would never be so rude as to insult food that someone had graciously prepared for me. But honestly, by the end of the trip I was hiding in the bathroom at the scent of lasagna/pizza/spaghetti. Bless the family who served us a roast and potatoes on the last day. You are my heroes.
Not surprisingly, I avoided the lasagna (and its comrades-in-arms pizza and spaghetti) for the duration of my pregnancy. Although I no longer have an aversion to lasagna, you’ll never find it on my meal plans. Pizza yes. Spaghetti yes. And lasagna soup, YES!
Somehow the classic flavors of lasagna—sausage, tomato, garlic, basil, oregano, and melty cheese—are just more appealing in a savory, broth-y bowl than in cheese-pasta-meat slabs. I’m not suggesting you should take lasagna off of your menu if you love it—but then, if you love lasagna, all the more reason to try lasagna soup!
- ½ lb Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 Tablespoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups (or 2 cans) chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup small, uncooked whole grain pasta
- 2 cups roughly chopped spinach leaves, loosely packed
- 8 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Optional: shredded mozzarella for garnish
In a soup pot, brown sausage until cooked through and drain any excess fat, returning sausage to the pan. Add the onions and sauté for a few more minutes until the onions are softened. Add the garlic, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Cook for a minute more, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, broth, water, and bay leaf to the pot, stirring to combine. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, cook the pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and Parmesan cheese along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
When the soup is done simmering, remove it from the heat and add the spinach, stirring until the spinach wilts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, place a generous spoonful of the cheese mixture in each bowl along with some of the cooked noodles.* Then fill the bowls with hot soup. Sprinkle with mozzarella if desired.
*If you wish, you can add the noodles to the soup before serving. The drawback to this is that if you have leftovers, the noodles will soak up most of the broth in the soup.