What really makes this dish amazing is the ricotta cheese mixture you put on the bottom of the bowl before ladling the hot soup on top. Because then you eat a spoonful and then gooey, cheesy goodness combines with the soup to make your mouth believe that there's a little lasagna surprise in every bite. Which there is. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
(adapted from A Farm Girl's Dabbles)
1 pound sausage or ground beef/turkey
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 bay leaf or 1/2 teaspoon crushed bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 (6 ounces) can tomato paste
2 (15 ounces) cans diced tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups rotini noodles (or mafalda, if you want it to look more lasagna-y)
salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces ricotta cheese (cottage cheese doesn't melt as well as ricotta)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
pepper to taste
1) In a large pot, cook the sausage or ground beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, basil, crushed bay leaf, and red pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
2) Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns to a rusty brown color.
3) Add diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
4) Add pasta and cook until al dente. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
5) While pasta is cooking, combine all ingredients for the cheese mixture in a small bowl.
6) To serve, place a generous dallop of cheese mixture in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle hot soup over the cheese mixture and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Enjoy!