I’ve really, really been into soup lately. It’s easy, it smells delicious, and there is something about being able to let all your ingredients soak into each other for hours that just grabs my attention. We typically do a Sunday soup in the winter because I can start it at noon, and let it stew and come together slowly in the crockpot or Dutch oven. By the time I get home from errands and a trip to the gym, I can open the door and become immediately engulfed in the perfect pairing of stewed meat, garlic, and whatnots that have been nestling together all day. Boom!
Normally I would have attempted this recipe with Spicy Italian Sausage, but I still have a couple pounds of extra lean deer meat in our deep freeze, sold! I just can’t get enough of it, and I love adding it to soup or pasta dishes to switch things up a bit. Next time I’ll try the sausage, but it makes me nervous, this combination was so stinkin’ good I just can’t imagine it any other way right now. Even Brad was all about eating leftovers for several days…which NEVER, EVER, EVER happens.
Everyone knows I love homemade ricotta. I will ALWAYS recommend making your own, as long as you have the people in your house to eat it. Freshly made ricotta really doesn’t last more than about a week in your fridge, which is a shame, so it’s hard for me to finish a whole batch by myself (but making Ricotta Cheesecake with the leftovers is a great idea!). I really, really, dislike store bought ricotta. I tend to ‘give it a shot’ a couple times of year, and it’s just not appetizing. In fact I don’t think it tastes like anything, I always end up trying to doctor it up, or use it for texture in another dish. I guess that’s my personal punishment for making ricotta from scratch at home, it will just never compare to anything that comes from the store. If you ever make your own, you’ll notice a night and day difference between the smell, taste, and subtle sweet flavors, it’s bizarre.
This particular recipe combines the ricotta with grated/shredded cheese, so I didn’t mind as much purchasing the smallest container at the store I could find, since I’m not eating it solo. Really it’s about the texture here since the shredded cheese and salt/pepper mask the ‘twang’ the store bought ricotta has. I compare the ‘twang’ to leaving your tea bag in your cup for too long. It’s still drinkable, but it gets almost a little bitter….see what I mean, a ‘twang’. 🙂
*I used my Dutch oven for this round, but feel free to use your crockpot, set on the lowest setting possible. Also if you’re in a time crunch, you really only have to let it simmer for 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 ground pepper
1 lb. ground venison (hamburger or sausage will work as well)
1 cup of onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground oregano or 2 tsp of dried
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (cut this in half if you’re spicy sensitive)
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
3 bay leaves
8 cups water plus 10 tsp of beef bullion
2 cups Cavatelli Pasta, prepared (feel free to substitute another shaped pasta)
I made this for two bowls of soup, so you can half it if you’re using it for a single bowl reheat.
4 Tbsp. of ricotta
4 Tbsp. of Italian Cheese blend (Mozzarella or Parmesan work great too)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
1. In your Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add your venison. Cook until browned.
2. Add your onions and let cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. You want them to reduce in size by half.
3. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.
4. Add tomato paste, make sure to mix very well, incorporating completely and cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and prepared water/bullion, stirring to combine.
6. Bring pot to a boil and then reduce heat to low. If you’re using a Dutch oven, cover with Dutch oven lid. Even on low this will simmer with the lid in place, simmer for 3-4 hours on low or until you’re ready to eat.
15 minutes before serving
7. Prepare you pasta al dente separately right before you’re ready to serve. By adding in the pasta separately the pasta stays firm instead of getting mushy from absorbing the soup liquid. While pasta is boiling, prepare your ricotta mixture.
8. Combine your ricotta, cheese, s/p. I used a fork to really smash it all together. The consistency should be enough to form it into a loose ball.
9. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
10. To serve, add 1/4 cup of prepared noodles into each bowl, ladle desire portion of soup, then split the ricotta topping between the two bowls. Garnish with fresh basil.