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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Tiffany Aaron: National Soup Month, Lasagna Soup, and an Onion Cure

  • Recipe for BETTER THAN LASAGNA SOUP!
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  • Happy New Year!  And, Happy National Soup Month!  I’m not sure which I’m more excited about.  That’s not true.  I’m definitely more excited about it being National Soup Month.  A new year means that it’s 2014.  2014 means that I’m only a year away from my 20th high school reunion.  Say what?  How did that happen?  After my 20 year reunion comes turning 40.  I am SO not ready for that.  So, I’ll focus on National Soup Month and forget that I’m aging…
     
    Have you ever wondered who dug up that first onion and said “Hey!  We should eat this!”?   One would think that one smell of the onion would have turned them away for good.  But, no.  Whoever that determined individual was, fought through the tears and most likely made one of the best meals known to mankind.  Little did they know that onions would become known as one of the world’s healthiest foods.  Onions are the single richest source of quercitin and are packed with amino acids, among other things.  What does that mean, you ask?  I have no idea.  All you need to know is that they’re good for you.
     
    Last night, I was cutting up onions for Lasagna Soup.  As tears streamed down my face I kept thinking “Man, I must really love my family”.  I cook with onions a lot and you would think that after awhile I would build up some kind of immunity to them or figure out a way to combat the toxic onion.  I’ve tried every home remedy in the book.  Cutting them while they’re cold.  Lighting a candle by my cutting board.  Freezing the onion for a few minutes before cutting.  Spraying my knife with nonstick cooking spray.  You name it.  This morning, as I sat down to research the little phenomenon called an onion, I came across a short video that may very well explain what my problem is.  In the video, Alton Brown states that a sharp knife is the only defense you need against an onion.  He claims that a sharp knife damages fewer cells which limits the release of the gases that cause your eyes to water.  Makes sense.  I purposely keep my knives somewhat dull.  With 5 kids in the house that like to help me cook, sharp knives scare me.  I know, I know!  Don’t send me emails telling me that dull knives are more dangerous.  It’s just a “me” thing.  But, I might have to change that so I can test Alton Brown’s theory.  I’ll let you know how it goes when I get up the nerve to sharpen my knives. 
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    In the meantime, let me tell you about the Lasagna Soup I mentioned above.  I came across a recipe for Lasagna soup on one of my favorite food blogs.  I made some changes to suit my family’s taste and we fell in love with it.  It literally tastes like runny lasagna in a bowl.  Okay…I could have worded that better, but really…it’s amazing.  If you’re looking for a quick and easy, but fancy soup for dinner guests, this would be perfect.  It tastes like a lot more work than it is.  Throw some garlic breadsticks on the side, and you have a delicious, filling meal that will impress even the pickiest of eaters.   ENJOY! 
     
     
    BETTER THAN LASAGNA SOUP
     
     
    INGREDIENTS
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    1 pound hot sausage
    2 cups chopped onions
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
    1 heaping Tablespoon dried basil
    28-ounce can diced tomatoes
    2 bay leaves
    6 cups chicken broth
    3 cups bowtie pasta
    Salt and pepper to taste
     
    8 ounces ricotta cheese
    ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
    1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
     
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add sausage and cook until browned.  Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic, Italian seasoning, and dried basil.  Cook for about 1 minute. 
     
    2.  Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken broth.  Stir well.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Add dry pasta and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. 
     
    3.  In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, and mozzarella. 
     
    4.  To serve, place a generous scoop of cheese mixture in the bottom of each soup bowl.  Ladle the hot soup over the cheese and let sit for a minute or two to allow the cheese to melt into the soup. 
     
    Tiffany Aaron of Quitman writes her "Secret Life of a Betty Crocker Wannabe" column each Wednesday.  Aaron is a recent finalist in the national Pillsbury Bake-Off competition and can be reached at bcwannabe@yahoo.com.

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