Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Did It: Lasagna Soup

What a yummy soup! I freely admit to being a soup addict.  When I was pregnant with my son, now 5, soup was my only real craving.  Well, that and chili, which some might consider a soup anyway.  I sort of never got over that craving.  I love to eat soup, I love to make soup.  I find it supremely comforting.  If you ever hear from me that we are having soup for dinner, there is at least a 50% chance that something is bothering me or that I'm sick.  (About half the time I make soup, though, I make it just 'cuz I love it, not because I'm having some trial or another.)
I found this recipe for Lasagna Soup on Pinterest, and just couldn't stop thinking about it.  It's super simple to make.  I have made this soup a couple of times now, and have found ways to tweak it for my non-cheese-eating little ones.  Here's the recipe I follow, in its original form.

Lasagna Soup

2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. Italian sausage
3 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
28 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil
salt/pepper to taste

for the cheesy gooey goodness:
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/4 t. salt
freshly ground black pepper

2 c. shredded mozzarella

(Here's what I realized as I was shamelessly copying the ingredients from the other blog onto mine: I don't follow recipes very well any more.  It used to be that I would only ever make food by studiously following the recipe.  Like, obsessively.  I guess I've reached the point that I am confident enough in my kitchen to make substitutions.  Example: I haven't used 1 1/2 lbs. of Italian sausage to make anything.  Ever.  I use 1/2 lb. to make this recipe.   Maybe that's just the cheapskate in me.  I almost never have fresh basil in my house, so I use the dried stuff almost exclusively.  Chicken stock? Nah, I'll just use water and mix in a couple of beef boullion cubes. I don't remember the last time I had tomato paste.  Or fire-roasted diced tomatoes.  I just used a couple of jars of my own homemade spaghetti sauce, and I liked it just fine. I'm keeping the recipe in its original form here, though, to give respect to the person who came up with it.  Who obviously would be horrified in my kitchen.)

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. 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 gooey goodness. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy gooey goodness in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

The recipe says this serves 8.  I think it's an easy recipe to stretch.  Just add more water and more boullion cubes. :)  If you know you want leftovers, cook the pasta separately and add it to the individual bowls.  That way you won't have soggy, mushy pasta in your leftovers.  You'll have to boil up some fresh pasta to have with your leftovers, but that will be 10 minutes well spent.  You really wouldn't want soggy, mushy pasta in your soup.  Don't ask me how I know this.

I served this with awesome breadsticks that I can't take any credit for at all, since I got the recipe from yet another food blog.  But that's a blog post for another day.

I Did It: Breadsticks

I Did It: Lemon Crinkle Cookies

These cookies came together so easily! I got the recipe from Pinterest last night or this morning, and now I have cookies cooling on my stove!  The flavor is quite mild, but that's my own fault.  My lemons have been with me for a while, so they are soft and wouldn't zest.  Since I couldn't include the 2 tsp. lemon zest, I increased the lemon juice, hoping to keep the lemon flavor strong.  It didn't work; the lemon flavor is very, very faint.  They cookies are nicely sweet, though, thanks to the powdered sugar coating.  Another thing I didn't do was to line the cookie sheets with parchment.  I ran out, so I just used cooking spray.  I'm finding that the cookies are sticking to the pan a bit. 

1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.
Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar, mixing for about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
To the mixture in the stand mixer, add the egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Beat until combined. 
Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Roll heaping tablespoons-ful in the sugar before placing them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes, turning the cookie sheet halfway through.
Cool for just a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Estimated Cost Breakdown:
Flour - $.05
Baking soda - $.02 
Baking powder - $.02
Salt - $0 (still using the big container of pink himalayan sea salt I got as a gift)
butter - $.99 
sugar - $.29
lemon juice and zest - $.50
vanilla - $.03
powdered sugar - $.16

Total cost for the batch: $2.06

Coming later today: Two more "I Did It" posts - breadsticks and lasagna soup