Brr, it’s cold outside, even in Los Angeles. We’re not used to mid-50’s as our high for the day, so nothing sounds better than warm and cozy comfort food. Normally this time of the year, we are already craving sushi and salads, because they go hand-in-hand with flip-flops and shorts, but not this week. Soups and stews are the first thing to come to mind, and I think this classic dish, turned soup, will hit all the right senses at meal time.
Most families have a classic lasagna recipe, no matter what your culture. Sometimes it’s fun to swap-out tradition, and give this dish a twist with Mexican, Asian or Scandinavian flair. But, today I’m going Italian, but changing it into soup, with all the familiar ingredients that you enjoy. Lasagna in my house was always made with ground beef seasoned perfectly with dried spices, garlic and onions. The noodles came from a box with ridges so familiar, that you could recognize them anywhere. The classic cheeses of mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan were always present, and the glue that held the whole thing together.
This recipe may vary in its presentation, but not in taste. The meat sauce is almost traditional, but with chicken broth added, to thin it appropriately enough to call soup. The noodles are added directly into the liquid to form a bubbling cauldron of meaty marinara, but once the cheese enters, game over – things get pretty gooey, and release the creamiest of consistencies. The quietly simmering soup is ladled into bowls and topped with a fluffy spoonful of ricotta cheese, for a finishing touch.
The soup will feed quite a few family members and reheat straight from the pot for another occasion. Perhaps lunchtime the following day is the right time to enjoy another bowl, or a do-over dinner in the exact same format. I like to serve a spinach salad with mustard vinaigrette tossed into it, to create a contrasting brightness, alongside a big hardy bowl.
1 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, or any combo of dried oregano, basil, thyme etc.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground beef
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
6 ounces tomato paste
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
6 dried lasagna noodles, broken into quarters
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into strips
1 cup Ricotta cheese, divided
Parmesan cheese for dusting
parsley, roughly chopped for top – optional
olive oil for cooking
- In a Dutch oven or large pot, add 2 teaspoons oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté for 3 minutes. Add Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper flakes, stir. Add ground beef, and stir, breaking apart with spoon. Cook for 5 minutes, until mostly cooked through.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste and broth, stir. Lower heat to simmer and place lid on top of pot, cook for 20 minutes.
- Add broken noodles, and stir. Place lid on pot and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until noodles are al dente.
- Add mozzarella and 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, stir. Cheese will melt gently into sauce, about 4 minutes. If soup is too thick, add a 1/2 cup of hot water to thin. Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of ricotta cheese and a dusting of parmesan. Sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!