Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Hearty Lasagna Soup

Lasagna-in-a-Bowl Soup

Everyone talks turkey in late November, so we opted to pick another topic that's very appropriate for this chilly time of year - Soup. If you have visited the Italian pasta aisle in the International Department at Jungle Jim's International Market, you have arrived in pasta paradise! The curly, trumpet-shaped Gigli pasta was the inspiration for the lasagna soup recipe in today's post. You could break apart dried rectangular lasagna sheets, but the Gigli pasta is frilly and fun and makes a pasta-tive statement for this hearty bowl of steamy, cheesy soup.

The cast of ingredients is pretty standard fare; however, we especially like Gerber Farms hot Italian chicken sausage, whole milk ricotta and of course, the Gigli pasta. If you are lucky enough to shop at the Eastgate location, you can purchase the fresh ricotta they make at the store.

The chicken sausage comes in links, so remove the casings and prepare as you would bulk sausage. Keep stirring because the Gerber Farms chicken sausage is very lean and may stick to the bottom of the pan - don't walk away! You may want to add a tablespoon of olive oil.

Add all the fresh vegetables and other ingredients to the sausage and mix - you can see it is a nice, thick soup. If your prefer a thinner soup, you can add more chicken broth. We used low-sodium chicken broth, so check for seasoning before serving.

The Gigli pasta should be done in 8-10 minutes. Don't stir too vigorously because the ruffled edge starts to break apart once it is cooked.

It's a very impressive and showy pasta shape! Don't you agree?

The ricotta dumplings are just small pillows of cheese flecked with fresh parsley. You can form them with a regular tablespoon or with a cookie/ice cream scoop.

Depending on the size of your ricotta dumpling, you can add several to each bowl to maximize the cheesy goodness. The dumplings really make this taste like lasagna!

We enjoyed a bowl of soup for lunch and it tasted great! Each spoonful brought up a bite of melted cheese. Be sure to sprinkle each bowl with a generous handful of fresh Parmesan. 

Lasagna Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

1 pound Italian chicken sausage, removed from casing
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 (14½) can low sodium chicken stock
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 ounces small ruffled pasta–or mini lasagna noodles or broken lasagna noodles
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the sausage in a 5 to 7-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. As the sausage cooks, break it up into bite-sized pieces. Continue cooking for 8-10 minutes until the sausage is browned and cooked thoroughly.

Add the onion, red pepper and garlic to the pan and sauté until onion softens, about 3-4 minutes. Add Italian seasoning, chicken stock, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, wine, salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add noodles and continue simmering the soup for 8-10 minutes or until the noodles are tender.

While the soup cooks, make the dumplings. Mix ricotta, Italian blend cheese, parsley, salt and pepper together until well blended. Scoop heaping tablespoons onto a plate and set aside.

To serve soup: Place a ricotta dumpling in the bottom of each bowl and pour hot soup over the top. Sprinkle with shredded Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serves 6 generously

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