Monday, November 03, 2014
Tortellini Spinach soup
OK, I write recipes like I cook....in context. I'm going to assume you know the basics of making chicken stock. (You could also use the Turkey carcass after thanksgiving.) I like to use chicken thighs for making stock (I buy them cheap when they are on sale) because they don't have lots of little bones that you need to pick out later. I like to cook, but I hate drudgery.
Make about 3 quarts of chicken stock. (I suppose you could buy it in a pinch, just buy low sodium stock) Add LOTS of crushed garlic, roughly chopped carrots, onions, celery, fresh parsley, rosemary, basil, oregano and -- this is important--red pepper flakes or other heat. You should end up with a not-too-salty but rather spicy broth. If it doesn't make your sinuses clear, add more pepper flakes. It should have a definite kick. The spinach and tortellini are bland, so the stock needs to be more intense than you would make for chicken noodle soup. But don't oversalt it. (Yes, I say that a lot)
When the stock is done, remove the chicken and other solids and set aside. Strain the broth. If you like, you can chop the celery and carrots and add them back at the end, or put them in the bowl with the chicken and use it for chicken pot pie or something the next day. (the cooked chicken gets great flavor from all the herbs and aromatics) Let the stock sit while you rinse the stockpot. so you can skim off any excess fat. I use a cheap glass beer pitcher and a bulb baster for this. A tall container (rather than a wide one) seems to make it easier. My mother had a trick she used with ice cubes, but I never mastered it.
If you are making this for consumption later in the week, stop now, refrigerate the stock. Do the rest of the steps the night you are going to eat it.
If you have premade stock in the fridge or freezer, you can skip all the previous steps and just season the holy crap out of it. Go easy on the salt, but anything else you like is fair game. Lemongrass can be nice, if you can find it, or even lemon pepper (salt-free)
Put the clear stock back in the pot. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down a notch so it's just simmering.
Add a bag of frozen or fresh tortellini. I buy the mushroom or spinach ones, but you could use cheese ones, too. Tricolor ones make it look pretty. Cook according to the timing on the package. Frozen ones will take a little longer. When the tortellini is done, add as much fresh spinach (washed and trimmed) as you want. I usually do a 16 oz package of Tortellini and an 8 oz package of baby spinach, but that makes a pretty hearty soup.
Add fresh spinach in handfuls, stir, keep adding. If the stock is hot, it will only take a minute or two to wilt the spinach. Don't overcook it. And don't do this part too far in advance. Once the stock is done, and you get it simmering, you can be ready to eat it in under 15 minutes
Add the cooked carrots and celery back to the pot just before serving, if you like.
If you have vegetarians in your life, start with vegetable stock.