It is rare for us to find a recipe that even 4 out of 5 of us all like, let alone all five. Lately, I've been on a roll, though. I think in the last 3 weeks, I've made 4 or 5 new recipes that everyone likes. Here's one of them--soooo yummy (from FamilyFun magazine, February 2009)!
2 t. olive oil
1.5 pounds Italian sausage
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 t. oregano
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
6 c. chicken broth
2 bay leaves
8 oz fusilli pasta (our grocery store doesn't carry this, so I used rotini)
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil (I used about 2 t. dried basil)
8 oz ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
1/4 t. salt
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and saute, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the sausage in no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain any excess fat from the pot. Add the onions and saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and saute until the paste turns a rusty brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the broth, and the bay leaves and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes (I simmered for longer, since it was a school day and I wanted to get it all together before the kids came home).
2. Add the pasta, then increase the heat to medium-high and boil the soup until the pasta is tender to the bite, following the time recommendations on the pasta package. Discard the bay leaves, then stir in the basil. If desired, season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, 1/4 t salt, and pinch of pepper. To serve, place about 1.5 T of the ricotta mixture in each bowl, sprinkle with some of the mozzarella, and ladle the soup on top. Makes about 13 cups.
FYI--I was a little leery of the ricotta mixture--it sounded a little strange. I ended up making it only because I had some leftover ricotta from something else, but I am so glad I tried it. It makes the soup ooey gooey with cheesy goodness, so I highly recommend it.
You can make the soup a little healthier by using turkey sausage (or leaving out the sausage and substituting legumes or mushrooms, but you won't get quite the same Italian flavor), low or no fat cheeses, and whole wheat pasta. We ate it with garlic bread, and I broke up some of mine and dropping it into the soup, sort of like croutons. It might also taste good with green beans or carrots in the soup.