Lasagna Soup

Lasagna soup

Our weather has been flip-flopping between warm and chilly.  For a while there, the days and nights were really beginning to feel like proper fall.  I even had to break out the down comforters for the beds, because I was getting cold at night.  The air was smelling so crisp and clear.  Sigh… I love Fall.

But, now, we are back to late summer temperatures again.  Muggy, and somewhat warm.  Thank you New England!  Be as it may, I still am craving soups.  I thought that a great way to kick-off soup season would be with this killer looking lasagna soup.  I mean really.  Tomatoes, noodles, hamburger and cheese?  You can’t go wrong!

Lasagna soup

My husband thoroughly dislikes ricotta cheese, so I opted not to put in the cheesy mixture.  Instead, I did a mixture of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, served along side a hunk of crusty bread.  It was fabulous.  The kids loved it, we loved it.  It was a great, hearty dish for a chilly evening.  I look forward to making this again this winter.

Lasagna Soup

Yield: 8-10 servings

For the soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons. dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cup chicken stock
  • 8 oz.  fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Cheese topping
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add hamburger, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and brown for about 8 minutes.  Stir in onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Then, stir in the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir until hamburger is coated.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns slightly brown.

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.  Stir in the fresh basil, salt and pepper to taste.  Remove the bay leaves, and serve in individual bowls, and top with a sprinkling of each cheese.

Source: Adapted from 300 Sensational Soups, via A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

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Farfalle with Bacon, Toasted Corn, and Tomatoes

Pasta with toasted corn, tomatoes and bacon

I seriously can’t believe it’s September 1st today.  Where did the summer go!?  I am already looking forward to cozy sweaters and warm cups of coffee.  But, I am not really ready to move on to pumpkin and Halloween like the stores are insisting upon.  My daughter started her first day of first grade today, and my son started his first day of his last year of pre-school.  OMG!  They are are growing up way too quickly.  But, I must say, I secretly did a little mental dance in my head after my daughter got on the bus.  Isn’t that horrible?  Maybe a little selfish, but I always look forward to the times I get just with baby.  The house is actually quiet for more than 30 seconds when it’s just her and I at home…

Our tomatoes are just now turning ripe.  I must say, I am pretty excited.  I was so afraid, that after the deer snipped a lot of the tips, that the tomatoes weren’t going to produce.  Alas, they look pretty happy still!  Now that I have several different kinds of vegetables ripe in the garden, I am trying to take advantage of them to their fullest.  That means, lots of vegetable dishes.  Especially since I seem to have monstrous zucchini every time I go out the garden. I am serious.  I swear they magically grow between the morning and the evening, because I go out there usually twice a day.

Moving on.

Pasta with toasted corn, tomatoes and bacon

This pasta dish is the perfect way to enjoy fresh, in season vegetables.  Pasta and vegetables are my favorite combination.  Oh, and cheese!  That is very important.  So is bacon.  I mean really, you can’t go wrong with chopped bacon with pasta.  Chop up some fresh herbs, and you have yourself a quick and easy meal.  But definitely not lacking in flavor.  I can’t wait to make this again.

Farfalle with Bacon, Toasted Corn, and Tomatoes

Yield: about 6 servings

  • 8 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 5 ears corn, husked and kernels cut from cobs
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound farfalle
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat, discard the rest.  Add the corn to the skillet with the reserved fat, as well as 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Stir well and cook until spotty brown, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and cook until slightly softened, 3-5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.  Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt.  Cook until al dente.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Add the bacon, corn mixture, grated Parmesan, and basil.  Toss to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency.  Serve immediately with extra grated Parmesan.

Source: Adapted from Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

Penne with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Boursin Cheese

Pasta with boursin

Summer is the time when I embrace pasta loaded with fresh vegetables.  Fresh zucchini, tomatoes, basil- yes please!  I love how zucchini and tomatoes are so versatile.  You can cook, roast, grill, or even leave them raw!  And they taste so dang good.  Needless to say, they are the perfect addition to any summer meal.

Pasta with boursin

Boursin is one of my favorite, very rare indulgences.  My mom introduced it to me as a kid, and ever since, I have been hooked.  It is so creamy, seasoned with my favorite herbs and garlic.  It’s like the upgraded version times 100 of cream cheese and chive dip.  My dad always served chive dip with crackers and carrots when I was a kid- it was my all-time favorite snack.  (He now serves that to my kids as a snack when they visit and they totally love it.)  So, when I saw this recipe that has melted Boursin cheese with pasta and fresh veggies, I put it on the weekly menu immediately.  No questions asked.

My husband, who isn’t a big cheese person still enjoyed this dish, but definitely not to the extent that I did.  Maybe even boarder-line obsession.  I can’t help it, I love cheese!  The Boursin cheese melted when mixed into the pasta dish, so it covered everything.  Swoon!  This is a wonderful dish to incorporate fresh summer vegetables and your love of cheese all into one, easy meal!  The perfect week-night meal.

Penne with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Boursin Cheese

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced about 1/2-inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 (5.2 oz.) package Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

Adjust an oven rack 4 inches from broiler element and heat broiler to high.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with tinfoil and brush with 1 tablespoon of oil.  Toss zucchini in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, season with salt and pepper, then spread evenly onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.  Place in the oven and broil, stirring occasionally until lightly brown around the edges but still firm in the center, 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, bring 4-quarts of water to boil in a large pot.  Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to the pot.

Add the tomatoes, Boursin cheese, and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss well to combine.  Carefully stir in the zucchini, basil and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add remaining cooking water as needed to adjust consistency.  Serve with additional chopped basil if desired.

Source: Adapted from The Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Almonds

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When I was a senior in high school, I did a trimester abroad. 10 of us went to Segovia, Spain to live with separate host families for a couple of months. It was freaking awesome. We had two group teachers that lead us around the country, on top of doing daily classes. We went from the top to the bottom and all around Spain. Pretty darn cool in my opinion! I stayed with a well-to-do host mom that didn’t speak any english (well, maybe she did, be she wouldn’t to me!), and her kids were grown and gone. So I got the coolest room with a balcony. I became pretty good friends with two other kids from the group, so in the evening, when we had free time to do what we wanted, the three of us would go to the local stores and see what cool foods we could find to eat. Then we’d grab all of our goodies (including hitting up the penny candy store) and go hang out on my balcony looking over part of the city. One thing that we always got, was Manchego cheese. We would all fight over who got the last piece. That stuff is beyond amazing. Something about it is so addicting.  And it was so cheap there. Those were some awesome times.

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Almonds

Now, Manchego cheese is a luxury. It’s pretty expensive locally. My mom, a few years back, knew of my love for the cheese and put it in my stocking for Christmas. Best present ever! My favorite way to devour it is by itself. But, when I was flipping through a cookbook and saw a pasta dish that used Manchego cheese, I just knew that I had to make it. I couldn’t pass it up!

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Almonds

This is a great, flavorful and simple pasta dish. It makes an easy one dish meal. The roasted broccoli and garlic make a wonderful addition. And who doesn’t love almonds with pasta? Any excuse to add nuts is fine with me! The Manchego cheese adds a wonderful twist of flavor to the dish. I just wish I had had some left over to eat for myself!

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Almonds

Yield: 4-6 servings

  • 2 garlic heads, top sliced off to expose cloves
  • 6 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 pounds broccoli
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 1 ounce Manchego cheese, grated, plus extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, or 2-3 Tablespoons dried
  • 1/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds, toasted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 500ºF. Drizzle the exposed garlic cloves with 1/2 teaspoon oil each and wrap tightly in tinfoil. Place in the preheated oven directly on a rack, and roast until the the garlic is tender, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool before unwrapping. Carefully squeeze the cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Mash with a fork. Stir in the lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Toss with remaining 2 Tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and sugar in a bowl. Place on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and put in the oven. Roast until the broccoli is well browned and tender, 20-30 minutes.

Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add broccoli, garlic sauce, 1/2 cup Manchego, basil and 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper and extra lemon juice to taste. Add more reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency. Serve into bowls and sprinkle with almonds and remaining Manchego cheese. Serve warm.

Source: Barely Adapted from The Pasta Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen

Fresh Corn Soup with Basil

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I know, I know, who is thinking of soup this time of year!? I had to share this recipe though. It is one of my favorites. I wait until corn is in season every year to make this soup. This is one time you can’t get away with frozen corn. This soup is perfect for a day that is a little cooler (we get those frequently with living on an island!). Served with a hunk of bread, it makes the perfect lunch or light dinner. Chock full of fresh flavors that makes summer come running. It is really simple to throw together for last minute guests.

Fresh Corn Soup with Basil

Yield: about 4-5 servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups uncooked corn kernels (from about 6 ears of corn)
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken or veggie broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a medium pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the corn and chicken or veggie broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.

Stir in the basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve the soup as is, or you can purée part of the soup with an immersion blender, or by transferring to a blender or food processor. Serve hot.

Source: Adapted from Cooking in the Moment by Kyra Alex