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Lasagna Soup

Lasagne Soup. Here’s a vegan makeover of this marvel of a stovetop lasagna. (photos by Deborah Brooks)

Lasagna soup. “What’s lasagna soup?” A solid question asked by son when I invited him for dinner. If you don’t get recipes in your social media feed, as I do on a daily basis, it’s something that you might not know and might sound a bit odd. After all, lasagna, America’s favorite casserole, is well, just that, a casserole that’s layered and baked in an oven. Quite a bit of work, too, what with cooking the noodles and separating them and then carefully layering all of the ingredients. So, I imagine someone got the grand idea to cook all of the ingredients in a big pot on the stove and behold.. lasagna soup, now a trend.

Of course, I had to give this marvel of a stovetop lasagna a vegan makeover try.

The key to a great lasagna is all in the sauce. I chose to make a bolognese-type sauce for the soup that started with a mirepoix (the holy cooking trinity of diced onions, carrots, and celery) and a mix of plant-based ground “beef” and Italian sausage that I picked up at Trader Joe’s. l smothered it all in a well-seasoned broth of San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable stock spiked with a good dose of dry vermouth, my new favorite cooking wine. Now, at first glance and taste this “sauce” will seem watery, compared to a traditional bolognese. But watery is the key here as you will be cooking the pasta in it and the pasta will absorb a good deal of this brothy sauce as it cooks. The starch in the pasta will thicken the soup, as well. Depending on how thick or brothy you want the finished dish will depend on how much broth vs. pasta you add. This recipe makes a moderately thick soup, once done, how I enjoy it. You can adjust to your taste by adding more broth or more pasta.

Once plated, the cheese mixture is mounded onto the soup. Then guests stir the cheese into the broth which gets all melty and creamy in the hot lasagna soup. It’s absolutely yummy! My son quite enjoyed his bowlful. It’s definitely a fun new way to enjoy the flavors of lasagna without the fuss of the cook! Think about cooking a big, comforting potful with the rains returning this week

Chef’s tips:

  • There are many varieties of plant-based ground “beef” available at local markets. From a “raw” version such as Beyond and Impossible to this “cooked” version from Trader Joe’s to frozen versions from Gardein and other companies. All will work. Cooking times will vary.
  • Plant-based Italian sausage also has several varieties available. This version from Trader Joe’s is very tasty but needs to be minced up for the sauce. Beyond Italian sausage replicates traditional sausage more closely in that it crumbles more. I usually choose whatever is at the market I’m shopping at.
  • Plant-based ricotta, shredded mozzarella and parmesan are available at many markets. My favorite plant-based parmesan (it’s quite a good replica of dairy parm) is the wedge from Violife that I shred myself. Available at Target and most markets (though not Trader Joe’s).
  • I found the curly noodles pictured at Monsieur Marcel at The Original Farmer’s Market. They’re a thin version of a wide curly lasagne noodle. I broke them in half to make it easier to eat. You could also break up traditional curly lasagna noodles or use a small curly pasta. To me, curly edges are key to making this look like lasagna.
  • I diced up the veggies very small as I do for a bolognese. If you want big chunks of veggies, you can opt to cut them larger.
  • Plant-based ground and sausage do not have the fattiness of traditional meats. You will need to use more olive oil than with a traditional bolognese to keep the foods from sticking to the pan. I also added a swirl of basil olive oil to finish the soup. It adds another dimension of flavor and creaminess. You can add plain EVOO as well, if you don’t want to invest in a basil oil.
  • I layer the ingredients into the soup and let them cook a bit. I find this makes for a tastier sauce than simply dumping in ingredients all at once.
Mincing plant-based Italian sausages

Lasagna Soup

Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
2 medium carrots, diced small
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp ground dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley
12 oz. Plant based ground beef
12 oz. Plant based Italian sausage chopped fine or crumbled depending on the brand
2-3 T dry vermouth or other dry white wine
5 T tomato paste
1 28 oz can San Marzano tomato puree
7 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 bay leaf
Basil olive oil or additional extra virgin olive oil
6 oz. Lasagna type noodles, broken up
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese Mixture (recipe follows)
Fresh chopped basil

In a large heavy stock pot (I used an 8 quart All Clad) heat 4 T of olive oil until shimmering. Add in the onions and sauté gently about 2 minutes being careful not to burn.
Add in the celery and carrots, stirring it all up. Continue sweating the vegetables about 8-10 minutes, stirring up and avoiding browning.

When softened add in the garlic and dried herbs and sauté until fragrant about 30-60 seconds. Add In the 2 plant-based meats and sauté up in the veggie mixture turning up the heat to get a bit of browning on the “meats”. Add more oil if necessary so the mixture doesn’t stick to the pot.

When meats are lightly browned add in the dry vermouth and cook 3-4 minutes to cook out the alcohol.

Add the tomato paste. Stir up to cover the mixture evenly and lightly cook the paste.
Add in the San Marzano Tomatoes, broth, and bay leaf, stir up well, and bring to a boil. Stir up again and lower to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes to allow flavors to develop, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper and any additional herbs to taste.

Swirl in the Basil Olive oil and bring the mixture to a boil again.

Add in the pasta, stir it all up and then lower to a rolling simmer. Cook pasta, uncovered, until just al dente. Be sure to stir up occasionally. Please note the pasta will continue to cook and absorb broth, once the heat is off, so make sure not to overcook.

Once pasta is cooked serve immediately in individual bowls topped with a scoop of the cheese mixture and chopped basil.

Serve additional parmesan on the side.

Refrigerate leftovers keeping the soup and the cheese mixture separate. The soup will be even thicker the next day. You can add some veggie broth and a bit of tomato sauce to thin it a bit if you like. Otherwise, enjoy the leftovers a bit thicker in consistency.
Leftovers can be frozen as well.

Cheese Mixture
Makes enough for 4-5 bowls

1 cup plant-based ricotta
1/4 cup shredded plant-based mozzarella
1/4 cup grated vegan parmesan
1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg

Stir up all of the ingredients.
Use a large spoon or small ice cream scooper to serve on top of individual portions of soup.

Lasagne soup ingredients
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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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