Lasagna Soup

Soup. I promise it isn’t the only thing I eat. It’s just that it’s been so cold and grey here in Indianapolis lately and soup is quick and easy and I don’t really have to leave the house to get the ingredients for many of them. The next bunch of recipes I post will be so far removed from soup, you will forget I even know how to make it. I swear.

This soup is one of Hubby’s favorite meals. It’s the first thing he ever made for me when we first started dating. When he saw I was making it today he got almost as giddy as he does when he realizes I’m going to make steak for dinner. It’s quite adorable, actually, seeing his eyes light up and watching him bounce around like a little boy on his birthday. This recipe is actually his, too. He got it from some girl he used to date back in New York, but we don’t talk about that. (I won! Haha!!)

Ahem.

I like lasagna soup because it has all the flavors of lasagna without all the fuss. It’s meaty and cheesy and full of vegetables (which I can actually get Hubby to eat!) that are available and inexpensive year-round. Another good thing about this recipe is that it’s easily customizable. If there’s a veggie in it that you don’t like, leave it out! If you want to add one, go ahead. There really isn’t an exact science to this soup. The only things you really need to make it taste like lasagna are the sausage and the cheese, in my opinion. Maybe the tomatoes.

Cheese. It may be the best part of this soup. I mean, it has a quarter of a cup (or however much you feel like putting in) of fresh mozzarella in the bottom of each bowl before you ladle the hot soup on top of it, rendering the cheese melty and stringy and gooey and full of cheesy goodness. Then? To make it even better? You sprinkle some grated parmesan on top. Just in case there wasn’t enough cheese in there for your liking.

Mozzarella

About to be melty, gooey, cheesy goodness!

If you’re into healthy dinners – and I suppose we all should be, right? – just leave out the cheese. You’ll save a ton of calories and the soup will still taste amazing. Want to make it vegetarian? Swap the chicken broth for vegetable. It’s as easy as that!

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

Recipe Source: Joe Ottaviano

  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage (hot or sweet, I prefer sweet)
  • 2cups onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 T garlic, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 14.5 oz can Italian-style stewed tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup pasta (any kind is fine, bowtie works well)
  • 2 cups spinach chopped
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Grated Parmesan, for garnish
  • Basil, for garnish

Brown the sausage in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes, until the mushrooms become slightly soft.

Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. When boiling, add pasta, cover and cook until pasta is done, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.

To serve, put 1/4 cup mozzarella in the bottom of 4 bowls and ladle hot soup over it. Top with grated Parmesan and basil, if desired.

Sweet Italian Sausage

Today was one of those days when the weather just begged for a hearty soup to be made for dinner. It was grey, windy, a little snowy, and just downright icky outside. I came home from work and decided I was going to make Hubby’s favorite soup for dinner. I thought I had all of the ingredients on hand (a minor miracle, really – the particular soup I had in mind definitely calls for a lot!) and it would be a nice surprise for him to come home to. If dinner wasn’t already made, it would be well on its way.

The soup I had in mind is called Lasagna Soup. I had never heard of it before I met Hubby, and I was a little iffy about it the first time he made it for me. It has mushrooms! I hate mushrooms! At least that’s what I was thinking back then. I’m a little less put off by them now, but I’m still not a huge fan. But the main ingredient, and obviously most important, is sweet Italian sausage. The sausage gets browned in the bottom of the pan with a few other vegetables in the soup before the stock is added and all of that sweet, slightly spicy flavor is intensified and makes the soup absolutely delicious.

I opened the freezer and…no sausage. I did, however, have a pound of ground pork. I am nothing if not resourceful, so I turned to the internet and my trusty Alton Brown books and looked for a recipe for homemade sweet Italian sausage.

I was not disappointed. I found a wide selection of recipes online and one in my Good Eats 2 book. I picked the best looking recipe from the online selection, took out the things I didn’t like, added the good stuff from my main man Alton’s recipe and I think I came up with a darn good sweet Italian sausage. Both recipes called for ground fennel, which I just do not like. At all. So I decided to leave it out. One recipe only called for 1/8 teaspoon of brown sugar. How sweet can sweet Italian sausage be if it only has 1/8 teaspoon of sugar in a whole pound? Not sweet enough, for sure. And as much as I love Mr. Brown, I do not love fresh sage or rosemary, so I substituted fresh thyme. I haven’t used my sausage yet, but it smells amazing.

photo

Sweet Italian Sausage

Adapted from this recipe and Alton Brown’s recipe in Good Eats 2: The Middle Years

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together. I prefer to use my hands (I take off my rings to make it easier to clean afterwards – even if Hubby doesn’t like it), because I feel like I can get a better idea when everything is mixed this way. You can use a wooden spoon or spatula if you like. Just be sure everything is evenly combined.

If you use your hands to combine, try not to squeeze the mixture between your fingers. Instead fold the ingredients together as if you were kneading bread dough.

Once mixed, this can either be formed into 2-inch patties or left as bulk sausage. Cook as you would store bought patties or bulk sausage. It can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days or wrapped in butcher paper and foil and frozen for 3 months.