If you loved my old lasagna soup recipe, I think you will really enjoy this one too. It takes just 30 minutes to make (unless you choose to cook it in your slow cooker) and all the flavors of lasagna for a fraction of usual the carbs, saturated fat, and calories :).
The idea for it came from an internet post for “easy slow cooker lasagna soup.” I loved the idea that it included spinach – and of using pre-made marinara to minimize ingredients – but with a pound of regular Italian sausage and regular chicken broth, it had almost 30 grams of fat per serving and close to 2,000 mg of sodium. Not a great way to start a happy, healthy new year.
For my recipe, I swapped out the sausage for lean ground beef, adding garlic and crushed fennel to lend a bit of sausage flavor. (If you want to use lean Italian turkey sausage you can. The calories and fat will not change, but it will add 500 mg of sodium per serving.) I also chose to use campanelle shaped pasta instead of lasagna noodles. They look like curled bells with ruffly edges similar to lasagna but they are easier to measure, and to eat! The brand I buy is Barilla.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground beef (or extra lean ground turkey*)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano (or Italian seasoning if you prefer)
1 25-ounce jar marinara (or 2 1/2 cups homemade)
1 32-ounce container reduced-sodium beef broth
1 9-ounce box frozen leaf spinach (~ 2 cups)
1 1/4 cups dry campanelle pasta (or 5 lasagna noodles broken into pieces)
Black pepper to taste and 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 4 minutes or until lightly translucent. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Crumble in the beef, fennel and oregano and cook, breaking up the beef with a large fork or spoon, until the beef is no longer pink.
2. Add the beef broth. Stir well and add the frozen spinach. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes. Add pasta and cook for 10 minutes (or one minute less than on package). Pasta will continue to soften as soup sits.
3. To serve ladle 1 1/2 cups of hot soup into a bowl and top with 2 tablespoons cheese.
SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS: Using the browning function of your slow cooker, or a skillet, cook meat and seasoning per step 1. Sppon the mixture into your slow cooker, add remaining ingredients, except for the mozzarella cheese, and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until pasta is tender. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons of cheese.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER SERVING (1 1/2 cups) Calories 285 | Carbohydrate 24g (Sugars 7g) | Total Fat 9g (Sat Fat 4g) | Protein 25g | Fiber 5g | Cholesterol 55mg | Sodium 710mg | Food Exchanges: 3 1/2 Lean Meat, 2 Vegetable 1 Starch | Carbohydrate Choices: 1 1/2 | Weight Watcher Plus Point Comparison: 7 | SmartPoint Comparison 5 (3 if made with extra lean ground turkey)