Lasagna Soup

1 1/2 pounds Italian sausage or combo of lean hamburger and sausage

1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes

10 oz. lasagna noodles, broken into smaller pieces

8 oz. fresh kale, optional

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

2 cups water

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup white onion, chopped

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 bay leaves

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and brown sausage.Once sausage is cooked through, add onion and cook until softened. Add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant.  Season generously with salt and pepper, and add basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.  Stir in tomato paste until incorporated, then pour in crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, water and bay leaves.  Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, then reduce heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes.  Add lasagna noodles and kale (if using) and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente.  In a separate bowl, combine ricotta and parmesan cheese until smooth.  Transfer soup to serving bowls and serve with a large spoonful of ricotta mixture.

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