½cupchopped fresh basil or 2 tablespoons dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
½poundfusilli noodles, cooked and drained
½cupgrated Parmesan cheese
1Tablespoonchopped fresh basil or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2cupsshredded mozzarella cheese, for sprinkling
In a large 4-quart pot, add the Italian sausage and cook over medium heat, breaking the pieces up with a wooden spoon or spatula while it cooks. I prefer the sausage in fairly small pieces. After about 3-4 minutes, add the onion. Cook the sausage and onion together, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through and the onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Drain any excess grease, if desired. Stir in the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and tomato paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, bay leaves and chicken broth. Add the basil, if using dried (if using fresh basil, add it in the next step).
Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste and the fresh basil, if using.
For the cheese mixture, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and basil. Set aside.
To serve the soup, add a scoop of cooked pasta noodles to a bowl. Top with a ladle or two of soup and dollop with a generous spoonful of the cheese mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Serve immediately.