Although winter is coming to an end, there are still plenty of chilly nights ahead. On these last few days of early sunsets and cold north winds, there is nothing more wonderful than comfort foods.  Everyone loves lasagna, but making it from scratch can be time-consuming on busy evenings.  This recipe combines the best of everything we like about lasagna.  It turns the flavors of lasagna into a delicious, hearty soup and it does not take a long time to prepare.  Best of all, it is a one pot meal so clean up is easy.

Lasagna Soup

Ingredients:

1/2 lb ground beef

1 onion, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

4 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 small can tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes

2 quarts beef broth

12 oz box of Penne or Rotini pasta

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Topping:

Ricotta cheese

Parmesan cheese, shredded

Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat broiler on low.  On the stove top, brown the ground beef, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms.  Add diced tomatoes and stir.  Then add tomato sauce and beef broth.  Bring to a boil and add pasta and seasonings.  Reduce heat and simmer for seven minutes.  Ladle into broiler safe bowls.  Top with a large spoonful of ricotta cheese, then add a sprinkle of parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.  Broil until the cheeses start to turn golden.  This is yummy, but be careful with the little ones as the bowls are hot. This soup will definitely warm you up when the nights are cold!

While you’re preparing the soup, why not bake a fresh loaf of homemade, crusty French bread? No, this bread doesn’t take hours of kneading and rising.  In fact, from dough to finished loaf only takes one hour! If you have a heavy-duty mixer (like a Kitchenaid) the job just got even easier because the mixer will do the kneading for you in just a few minutes!

One-Hour French Bread

1-1/2 cups warm (not hot) water

1 Tbsp honey

1-1/2 tsp salt

1-1/2 Tbsp yeast

3 to 4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine water, honey, salt, and yeast in a large bowl or your mixer and let it sit 5-10 minutes or until bubbly.  Add flour and knead until dough is no longer sticky. The amount of flour will depend on whether you’re using white or wheat flour, as well as the room temperature and humidity.  If you press your finger into the dough, it should spring back slightly.

Sprinkle your counter with a small amount of flour to prevent sticking.  Dump the dough onto the counter, and roll the dough into a 12-14″ long loaf. You can easily do this by hand, no rolling pin needed. Place the loaf on a greased cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let the bread rise for about 20 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then slice with a serrated knife and spread with butter. If desired, sprinkle each buttered slice with garlic powder before serving.

Enjoy!

Toni D
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