Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup…

When the weather starts to get cold I always think of certain types of comfort food. Who doesn’t crave the smell of a pot roast cooking away in the oven, or some hearty chili with cheese and onions or a tureen of hot soup?

I don’t tend to make soup a lot during the Spring and Summer but once Fall arrives soup becomes one of the main things on my mind. And making home made soup is so much better for you. Have you ever read the ingredients on a can of store bought soup? Next time pay attention to the amount of sodium in canned soup. It’s off the charts! And we all could use a little less salt in our lives to keep ourselves on a healthier track.

The beauty of home made soup is you can throw a myriad of goodies into it like carrots, spinach, peas, potatoes, squash, etc., the sky’s the limit. Soups are also easy to make and very satisfying, especially during the cold weather months.

This soup is so delicious I think you’ll make it several times. Serve it with a salad and warm crusty bread and you’ll have one heck of a great meal.

So lets talk Creamy Chicken Gnocchi Soup…

Lesson Learned 1 –  I love Better Than Bouillon: Many recipes call for adding bouillon cubes or granules to enhance the flavor of a soup. I’ve found that Better Than Bouillon is a great substitute and gives the soup more depth of flavor compared to the cubes or granules. I highly recommend using it but if you don’t have it substitute a couple of cubes or a tablespoon of granules and that will add some additional flavor. But you will definitely notice the difference in flavor if you use Better Than Bouillon.

Lesson Learned 2 – Soups are primo for substitutions: I used spinach in this recipe but you can also use kale. Personally I’m not a big fan of kale but it’ll work well in this soup. If you substitute any of the vegetables make sure they have a uniform cook time. If you add something like butternut squash or potatoes you might have to cut them into very small pieces or else cook them separately until somewhat tender and then add them to the other vegetables. You can also substitute shredded carrots for the carrot coins or you could even add some broccoli or peas. If you add frozen peas add them at the end when you add the browned chicken. That way they’ll cook properly. Have fun and experiment with this soup!

Lesson Learned 3 – For additional depth of flavor use equal parts chicken broth and stock: I found that by using both in equal parts it gives a better flavor to the soup than just by using one or the other. That is not to say you can’t use just one of them, but I noticed a definite difference in the richness of the soup when combining both. If you only want to use one, I would opt for chicken broth. I find chicken stock too strong to use on its own. And keep in mind it may just be my personal taste. But try combining both sometime and see if you don’t notice a difference.

I know you’ll love this soup. Try it and let me know what you think…

Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup...

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp pepper

4 Tbs. butter, divided

2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4 inch coins

1 medium sized onion, chopped

2 small celery ribs, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 Tbs. flour

2 cups chicken broth

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

2 Tbs. Roasted Chicken Better Than Bouillon

1 package (10 oz.) three cheese tortellini

1 cup half and half

2 cups fresh spinach

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Season cubed chicken with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven brown the chicken in 2 Tbs. of butter. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.  Add the remaining butter to the pan and sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until crisp tender. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.

Whisk in the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the chicken broth, stock, bouillon, water and tortellini. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for approximately 8 minutes.

Add the half and half, spinach and cooked chicken. Cook on low heat until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat, ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve with a salad and warm crusty bread.

 

 

 

Tortellini White Bean And Sausage Soup…

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday season. I had a fabulous one. We went back home to Illinois to spend Christmas with our family. Seven kids, eight dogs and assorted adults all led to a busy and memorable time. It was so much fun until I got home and came down with a cold. I haven’t had one in a very long time and I attribute it to the sniffling, sneezing children that I was around for an entire week. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. And I’m glad to be back on my feet and in the world of the living.

Perhaps this little health hiccup inspired my next recipe. I don’t know about you but when I have a cold or am not feeling up to par I immediately think of soup. Mostly I think of chicken soup, but this time I wanted something different hence this particular recipe. There’s something about a warm bowl of soup when you’re not feeling well that’s very comforting, like a soft warm blanket. It somehow just seems to make you feel better.

I never really got into making homemade soups until the last couple of years. I’d just open a can and warm up whatever I bought at the grocery store. What I’ve learned over time is homemade soup is very easy to make, doesn’t take a lot of time plus you control what goes into it, especially the salt, which tends to loom large in canned soups. So I’ve been venturing more into making homemade soups and truly enjoying it. And for the novice cook, this is a way to look very impressive without a lot of hard work. So don’t shy away from making soup.

Let’s talk Tortellini White Bean and Sausage Soup

Lesson Learned 1 – I learned the beauty of chicken sausage: When researching various recipes I came across one that used chicken Italian sausage. I never tried that before, and sometimes I am leery of the flavor of chicken and turkey substitutes for beef or pork but decided to give it a go in this recipe. I was glad I did. It was divine!

The important thing to note is that you must cook the sausage before putting it into the soup. You do this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost the soup does not cook long enough for the sausage to be fully cooked by the time the soup is finished. Second, by cooking it ahead of time you get that nice browning on the casing which you wouldn’t get if you simply boiled the sausage. So remember to cook the sausage first because once you add it to the soup you are basically just heating it through.

Lesson Learned 2 – I added tomato paste to thicken the soup: I noticed when I was making the soup the broth seemed a little lackluster – kind of thin and unexciting (if broth can be unexciting). I decided to add a 6 ounce can of tomato paste and was glad I did. The paste made the broth thicker and more luxurious. You can choose to leave it out if you like but I would recommend adding it to the recipe.

Lesson Learned 3 – Slightly mash the white beans: After you rinse the beans and before you add them to the soup give them a slight mash with a hand masher. You don’t want to do too much, just a little. This along with the tomato paste helps thicken the broth.

Lesson Learned 4 – Kale versus Spinach: A lot of similar recipes I researched recommended adding kale to this type of soup and you can certainly do so. I don’t know about you but I’m not a big fan of kale – it just tastes funky to me no matter how it’s prepared. So I opted for spinach and it was great. The choice is yours – you can certainly use kale if you like but if you’re like me and not a big fan, spinach is a wonderful substitute.

Lesson Learned 5 – Don’t be afraid to improvise: A recipe like this is ripe for improvisation. I used a tri-color three cheese tortellini but you an certainly choose any kind you like. I used chicken Italian sausage but if you’re skeptical a more traditional sweet Italian sausage will work. Or you can make sausage meatballs. If you want to spice it up a bit you can always add a little red pepper flakes or some cayenne pepper. When I warm up my leftovers I’m going to put some parmesan shavings on top. Even if you’re a novice cook, don’t be afraid to add your own touches or adjust the ingredients to your taste. Cooking is not like baking, you don’t need to be exact. Step out of your comfort zone and try a few things. You’ll be happy you did.

Tortellini White Bean and Sausage Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

4 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 cup water

1 – 14.5 oz. can of Italian style diced tomatoes

1 – 6 oz. can of tomato paste

1 package (13.5) oz. refrigerated tortellini (I used tri-color three cheese)

1 pkg. (4 links) Italian chicken sausage, fully cooked

2 cans 15 oz. cannellini beans, drained, thoroughly rinsed and lightly mashed

4 cups fresh baby spinach

DIRECTIONS:

In a large saucepan combine stock, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Add the tomato paste and stir until completely incorporated. Add the tortellini and cook on a gentle boil for approximately two minutes. Add the sausage and beans. Bring to a low simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the spinach. Cook for approximately two minutes or until the spinach is completely wilted. Serve with a salad and crusty bread. Refrigerate any leftovers.

 

Creamy Meatball and Tortellini Soup…

Is there anything as comforting as a hot hearty bowl of soup on a cold winter day? Enjoying a piping hot bowl of soup with some crusty bread when the weather outside is cold and snowy – well that to me defines food for the soul.

In the past, the only homemade soup I ever made was my mother’s chicken soup. I never thought about making any others. Then two years ago when I had a tomato crop that was just unheard of and left me tomatoes coming out of my ears, I tried to make homemade tomato soup. And it was fabulous. So I invested in an immersion blender and made homemade broccoli cheddar soup. And the rest is history. I love making homemade soups.

Add the evaporated milk and spinach

Prior to this recipe all my soups were made on the stove top. This time I decided to make soup in the slow cooker. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am getting more adventurous with my slow cooker, trying things with it that I’d never done before with it. So why not try to make some soup?The basis for this recipe I saw on Facebook and thought, wow this sounds and looks delicious. So I made it (with a few of my own tweeks). All I can say is this one is divine.

So let’s talk creamy meatball and tortellini soup…

Veggies Cut Into Chunky PiecesLesson Learned 1 – It bears repeating, cut your veggies into chunky pieces: Because you cook for extended periods of time in a slow cooker your veggies can break down if you don’t cut them chunky. You want to see and taste your veggies. So don’t be afraid to cut them into chunky pieces. They will cook I promise you.

Lesson Learned 2 – Use different settings to get different results: Sounds pretty logical doesn’t it. But I used to be a one size fits all girl when it came to slow cooker settings. If I started on low, I stayed on low. And the same for high. But I found you can be more creative with recipes when you vary your settings during the cooking process. For this recipe I cooked the basic parts of it, veggies, meatballs and broth, for 6 hours on low. During the last hour I set it on high. I added the evaporated milk, thickener and tortellini and let that cook for 45 minutes on high. Then I added the spinach and let it cook on high for another 15-20 minutes. Everything cooked perfectly.

Italian Sausage MeatballsLesson Learned 3 – Don’t be afraid to be creative: Originally I was going to add chunks of sausage links to the recipe but my husband has a hard time with the casings. So I removed the casings and formed portions of the meat into meatballs. That worked just fine. I also used sweet Italian sausage in my recipe but you can use hot Italian sausage and give the soup a little more kick if you like. You can also use ground beef, but I think the seasonings in Italian sausage give more zip to the flavor of the soup.

This soup tastes absolutely divine. Your should really try this. I guarantee you will love it! You betcha can make this!

CREAMY MEATBALL AND TORTELLINI SOUP...

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:

Creamy Meatball And Tortellini Soup1 pound Italian sausage (ground or links cut into chunks)

1 onion, diced

2 thick carrots cut into 1/2 inch circles

2 stalks of celery cut into chunks

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbs. Italian seasoning

2 tsp. chicken bouillon powder

1/2 tsp. salt

4 cups chicken broth

1/4 cornstarch

1/4 cup water

1 12-ounce package of cheese tortellini

3 12-ounce cans of evaporated milk

4 cups baby spinach with stems removed

DIRECTIONS:

Form the Italian sausage into 1 inch meatballs. Place the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, italian seasoning, bouillon powder, salt and meatballs into a 6 quart slow cooker. Pour in the chicken broth. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Mix together thoroughly the cornstarch and water. Combine cornstarch mixture with the evaporated milk. Add the evaporated milk and the tortellini to the slow cooker, stir to combine and cook on high for 45 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes on high.

Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Veggies and Meatballs in the slow cooker

 Add the chicken broth

Creamy Meatball And Tortellini Soup

Creamy Meatball And Tortellini Soup