i've professed my love of lasagna a few times already, i just wish it didn't take all afternoon to put together. enter deconstructed lasagna, a short cut version i made last october that has all the same flavors of layered lasagna without the fuss of layering noodles, sauce, and cheese. i didn't think it could get any easier, until i stumbled upon this slow cooker version a few weeks later and mentally tucked it away. until a couple weeks ago, when it was cold and dreary and winter looked like he still wanted to rear his ugly head. there's nothing better than coming home to a slow cooked dinner on those days.
this slow cooker soup version of lasagna is so simple, so obvious, i can't believe i hadn't stumbled upon this idea sooner. but am i ever glad i did. but i was skeptical at first, of using raw ground beef. every other slow cooker recipe i've seen that uses ground beef starts by browning it in a skillet, and this one did not. i was worried i would come home to big chunks of meat floating around in my soup - or worse yet, one big chunk of meat sitting in the bottom. but neither of those happened. the meat cooked up in nice, small pieces. if i hadn't known, i would not have guessed it went into the cooker raw.
since we aren't fans of ricotta around here, we topped ours with a heavy spoonful of bechamel instead.
slow cooker lasagna soup
adapted from back to her roots
10 minutes before prep, 15 minutes serving prep; serves 8
1 pound meatloaf mix or ground beef
2 large onions, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
6 ounces tomato paste
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth
10 ounces fusilli or another short cut pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups 2% or whole milk
pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
mozzarella and/or parmesan cheese for topping
- crumble the meat into your slow cooker and add the onions, cloves, oregano, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken broth. cook on low at least 6 hours or up to 10.
- when the slow cooker has about 30 minutes left, add the pasta and mix to combine.
- when you add the pasta, make the bechamel. melt the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. when the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two until golden brown. whisk in the milk and cook over medium to medium low heat, whisking frequently, until it thickens. this should take about five to ten minutes. season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- to serve, add a serving of soup to a bowl. top with about a quarter of a cup of bechamel sauce and sprinkle with cheese.