One of the best ways to save money in this town is to eat at home. With so many great and unique restaurants just walking distance from home, it is easy to end up spending all your money (and calories for that matter) eating out!  Don’t worry too much though, there are a lot of great deals to be had and I do intend to devote part of this blog to sharing some of these great dining out experiences with you. However, I also intend to share with you some of my favorite homemade recipes and  this weekend I made some of the BEST soup I have ever made.  It needs to be shared!

Before coming together with the cheesy yum!

I am going to say this right now, this recipe and probably every other one I share came from somewhere else.  I have fun looking through cookbooks and online recipes to find new things to try. I am by no means a master chef nor do I pretend to be! I LOVE foodgawker!!  If you do not have this app on your phone already or the website set as a favorite on your computer, you must do this now! I’m not joking…DO IT!

I found this recipe while “gawking” one afternoon and it sounded right up my ally. I enjoy a good bowl of soup now and then, but until recently I thought I only liked Chicken Noodle Soup.  (If you know me at all, you know that I have been a picky eater my whole life! I’m getting better though, don’t judge me!) When I came across this lasagna soup recipe I thought, “Hey, I like lasagna. There’s no reason I wouldn’t like it as a soup!”  Not to mention the AMAZING amount of cheese in the recipe! So I tried it.  The first time I made it, it came out as more of a pasta. Not enough broth and too much pasta.  It was still tasty, but the second time it was PERFECT!  Cheesy, yummy bliss!  The best part is that it is great left over! I had it for lunch for 2 days after making it! 🙂  Enjoy!

Here’s the recipe (with my adjustments, I cook with what I have!):

for the soup:

2 tsp. olive oil

1-1/2 lbs. Italian sausage  (I used a chicken and cheese sausage, yum!)

3 c. chopped onions  (This sounded like a lot of onion to me, so I just used about 1 cup)

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes  (One packet of peppers left over from pizza delivery!)

2 T. tomato paste  (I didn’t have any tomato paste, so I used a small can of tomato sauce)

1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes  (Yea, I skipped this ingredient! I don’t have that kind of stuff in the house!)

2 bay leaves  (Didn’t have any of these either, but we didn’t miss them)

6 c. chicken stock   (I added an extra 2 cups of stock)

8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta  (Use whatever pasta you have!  I used some whole wheat shells)

1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

for the cheesy yum: (OMG! This is the best part!)

8 oz. ricotta

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. salt pinch of freshly ground pepper

2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the soup broth. You may even want to consider cooking the noodles separately, and then adding some to individual bowls before ladling the soup over them. This would be an especially smart move if you are anticipating any leftovers. Right before serving, stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Servings:  8

Source: adapted from 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds, as seen in the February-April 2011 edition of At Home with Kowalski’s magazine