Here’s the thing about lasagna and cooking when there are only two people living in your house. You can’t do it. Well, you CAN do it, if you are up for eating lasagna for a solid week straight, but there’s no reasonable way (that I have yet discovered) to cook lasagna for two the traditional way. So until my Southern daughter and all her hordes of friends come back from college for the summer, I’m just going to have to be untraditional. As in, I’m turning that lasagna into a hearty, warm and wonderful soup.
Before I get going on the soup though, I need to point out that napkin in the picture above. I gave a set of these napkins to the Southern husband for Christmas this year, and before you start feeling all sorry for him for getting napkins for Christmas, you need to know that these are love letter napkins. Love letters from Emily Dickinson, Jack London, Mark Twain and D.H. Lawrence are printed on each napkin. They are our new favorite napkins, for obvious reasons. Now you feel better for him, right? And if you want to check them out, click here. (Required disclaimer: Uncommon Goods had no idea I was going to mention these napkins, which I bought my own self with my own money. Happily.)
Meanwhile back at the soup, it’s got all the taste sensations you love in traditional lasagna. Pasta, tomato, beef, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, basil, etc etc. It’s just organized a different way. In soup form. Hey, I figure if I have already made lasagna cupcakes, lasagna soup is TOTALLY allowed.
First brown up the beef – I did mine in a round Dutch oven that I ended up cooking the whole soup in. Yep, one pot – it just keeps getting better! Once the beef is nice and brown, add some canned diced tomatoes, some chicken stock (gives it a gentler taste than beef stock), and some pasta. I used my all time favorite pasta, campanelle, but any short pasta will do just fine. Cook it up until the pasta is tender.
Now ladle it up into bowls and add some generous scoops of fresh ricotta. As always, I beg and plead that you make your own, which takes all of 3 ingredients and ten minutes and will change your life forever (click here for how to do that). Now scatter on some shredded mozzarella, which will get all nice and melty from the heat of the soup, along with some chopped fresh basil and a little ground pepper.
And there you have it – lasagna soup! You can make a little. You can make a lot. Just make it, and if you serve it with love letter napkins on the side, I can promise you that dinner that night will be as close to perfect as dinner gets.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock (I like the Pacific and Imagine brands in the box)
- 4 ounces campanelle or other short pasta
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup fresh ricotta, room temperature
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, room temperature
- Brown beef over medium high heat in a large heavy pot (a Dutch oven is ideal). Add onion and cook until soft, another 5 minutes or so. Stir in oregano and tomato paste and cook for another minutes.
- Add tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook until pasta is tender (look for the timing on the pasta box). Taste and add salt as needed.
- Ladle soup into four bowls. Sprinkle basil on top. Add a generous spoonful of ricotta, scatter shredded mozzarella on the top and grind on some pepper. Serve at once.