Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tortellini Soup

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 Happy October 1st! It's officially the season of sweaters, scarves, Ugg boots, pumpkin spice, and soup. I don't care if it's still 80ish degrees outside - It's Fall and I'm all in.

So let's start the month off right with some soup because, let's face it, making soup is good for so many reasons. I've always found it a therapeutic exercise with all the chopping and stirring - it's calming and works wonders on a weary soul. It's also a practical exercise in using up all the random stuff in the pantry and fridge. A little bit of this and a little of that can easily be transformed into a warm and comforting bowl of soup.

What you see pictured above is basically a mixed vegetable soup that I pureed before adding some cheese tortellini. It's hearty enough to stand on it's own, but goes great with some toasted bread on the side. You'll want something to mop up all that warm goodness.

 Before I jump to the recipe a few FYIs, if you will:

First, I didn't use any kind of broth, stock or bouillon. I've never made soup with just water, but with not a drop of stock on hand I decided to go the water route. The soup is full of veggies and herbs, which provides lots of flavor, so the whole stock versus water thing was pretty much a non-issue.

Second - and I feel like I should whisper this - I used canned carrots. Weird, right? Somehow a random can of carrots materialized in my pantry so I took a chance and used them. Waste not, want not. Purists out there might click right on through to the next blog, but for everyone else I wanted to share this surprising shortcut in case you have a can hiding in the dark recesses of your pantry. You can put it to good use in this soup or just substitute the same amount of fresh carrots.

One last note: I've seen other tortellini soup recipes with instruction to cook the tortellini directly in the soup. I didn't do that here since the soup is a little on the thicker side. For thinner versions I'm sure it works fine, but for this recipe I recommend cooking the tortellini separately and adding it to the soup at the end.

Tortellini Soup
Makes (4) 1 cup servings

1/4 cup olive oil
1 & 1/2 cup onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
14.5 ounce can whole plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 & 1/2 cups water
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
3 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
2 cups fresh cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions
Fresh grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add in the onions, garlic, celery, carrots and red bell pepper. Allow to cook in the oil about ten minutes (give it a stir every few minutes) until the vegetables have softened. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, open the tomatoes and break them up - I find it's easiest to use my hands to give them a good squish. After the veggies have softened add in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to combine. Add in the water, thyme and bay leaf. Give it a good stir and adjust the heat so the soup is just simmering. Allow it to simmer for 20 - 30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems. Puree the vegetables using either an immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender (return to the pot once blended). Once blended, over medium low heat, season the soup with salt and pepper. Add in the spinach, parsley and basil and stir to combine. Once the spinach has wilted into the soup taste again for seasoning. If needed add additional salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cooked tortellini and serve with some grated Parmesan cheese on top.

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