Lasagna Soup + Italian Bread

During the early stages of my pregnancy, there were quite a few emotions running through me. Of course, this is no surprise. For many women, pregnancy is a time of growth, not only in body but in mind and spirit. For me, I knew early on, within days really of discovering that I was carrying a baby, that I would be a single mother. It wasn't long after that that the panic of what will I dobegan to settle in. For a while, I thought that returning to school would not be an option. We were living in Texas, I was too shocked to think about dealing with pregnancy and getting an education, and I really didn't know what I wanted to do - which was shocking! Believe me. I think of a lot of peers that would go into college without a major, and I would heavily roll my eyes, I still do. Why would you pay that much money to not have a career path? Experience is not a good enough excuse. But opinions aside, my pregnancy was a period of growth, of discovery. At one point, I thought I might try my hand at making a business with my photography. Then my mind wandered to a tea room and/or food truck business. I knew a few good dishes, but I wasn't really a cook, but I could picture a really cute restaurant, you know? Totally different from what I am doing now, but that idea still sits in the back of my mind sometimes. An awesome cafe or coffee shop or a cute little diner. There are just so many food establishments that I walk into and say, "I could do this so much cuter!"
Which brings me back to reality.... lasagna soup. It was a time of experimentation, and I discovered how to make soup. I was making every soup I could find and then I discovered this recipe. It was delectable. It was lasagna all mixed up and thrown into a bowl. It was heaven to a very pregnant woman. This soup changed my entire perspective on my own cooking skills. I felt like I was actually good at something. Soup making can do that to you. This past weekend I suddenly had a craving for the ricotta cheese mixed on top along with some amazing Italian bread. So, here's the recipe for you to try, little chefs. Eat your hearts out. Lasagna Soup + Italian Bread!

Without even trying, I ended up timing this meal out perfectly. I love it when that kind of thing happens! This bread recipe takes an hour all together to rise. That gives you a half hour to just let the bread do its thing, then a half hour to make the soup (while it rises a second time) and a half hour to let the soup thicken and the bread to bake. All together, one hour + thirty minutes. Pretty easy! 

INGREDIENTS For the Bread // 

  • 1 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cups flour

RECIPE For the Bread // 

  • In an electric mixer with a dough hook, mix the warm water, yeast, and brown sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to activate. Add in the salt and olive oil. Slowly begin to incorporate the flour, letting each cup mix in well until a dough begins to form. It should be a bit sticky, but not sticky enough to cling to the sides of the bowl. Mix on a low speed at first and then turn it up a bit to really kneed the dough. I found this dough to be a bit crumbly at first, so I added a few more tablespoons of warm water to even it out. Either add more flour or water if your dough does not meet up correctly.
  • Place your dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave it in a warm place for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. I like to preheat my oven to the lowest temperature, turn it off, and then place to covered dough in there. This always seems to work best!
  • Once your dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide in two. Form the two dough balls into loaves. I rolled mine out a bit to get out any large air pockets and rolled up like a baguette. Fold the ends under and place on a large cookie sheet. Cover again with the damp cloth and let rise another 30 minutes or until doubled in size (this is the time to start making the soup!).
  • Preheat your oven to 375.
  • Brush your loaves with a whisked egg + a bit of water. Make a large slit down the center of the loaves and brush some egg in there, too. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. If you want that nice, crispy crust, fill a pan up with water and place it on a rack below the bread while it bakes. 

INGREDIENTS For the Soup // 

  • 1 cup of elbow, macaroni, or mini shell pasta (I used vegetable noodles!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • salt + pepper

RECIPE For the Soup //  

  • In a large pot over medium high, heat the olive oil until it glistens. Add in the Italian sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Crumble the sausage as you cook. If you want, drain the excess fat (I leave it in). 
  • Add in the diced onion and garlic cloves, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and incorporate well. 
  • Stir in the chicken stock, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves. Season with salt + pepper to taste. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat, letting the soup simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes (this is when you should start baking your bread!). 
  • Begin to cook your pasta in a pot of boiling water, al dente, and then draining. 
  • When the soup has thickened, add in the cooked pasta. 
  • In a small bowl, mix together the mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan. Season with salt + pepper.
  • Serve the soup in a bowl topped with the cheese mixture and Italian bread on the side!

Oh my, this was incredible! So happy that I learned how to bake bread. It's really not complicated at all once you try it! Just go for it, trust me. For all of our Morris readers, you know Corleone's bread? Well, this bread is pretty similar, I think even better!! Make this stuff!!! (; 

xoxo Kayla