Chicken Tortellini Soup

Chicken Tortellini Soup

First I cooked the base for chicken soup night before last – putting a whole fryer in a stew pot with a chopped onion and 3 bay leaves, salt and pepper and let simmer for 1.5 hours until the chicken was thoroughly cooked and just shy of falling off the bone. I removed the chicken from the broth and let it cool. After it cooled, I pulled all the meat off the bone, putting the dark meat back in the soup broth and reserving the white meat for salads and sandwiches. I used some of the meat for sandwiches for a couple meals, but today I am going to finish the soup.

I skimmed off the fat that had cooled on the top. Some people think you lose too much flavor when you do this, but I think that flavor can be boosted with bouillon or broth if the soup lacks flavor. This soup, however, had plenty of flavor and I didn’t need to add anything. I started heating the pot on medium. While it heated, I chopped up 1 carrot and 1 celery (Technically I chopped two celery, but these are the thinnest, scrawniest celery I have ever seen and it takes two to make as much as 1 regular celery.) I also sliced up 6 mushrooms. I tossed them all in the pot along with two 8 oz. cans of diced, stewed tomatoes seasoned with basic, garlic and oregano. I added salt and pepper and let cook. When the carrots were fork tender, I added 12 oz. pkg of Barilla Three Cheese Tortellini and cooked for 10 more minutes.

The soup has a heart chicken flavored with a bit of zest from the tomatoes, balanced by the celery. The mushrooms add a deep, earthy note and the carrots add some sweetness. This makes about 12 servings, but I prefer making chicken from scratch, not from mixes, so it’s impossible to make a “single” serving.

Tomato-Zucchini Tortellini

Tomato-Zucchini Pasta

In a saute pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 diced garlic cloves, 2 tbsp chopped onion and 1 serrano pepper diced small. Saute until tender and add 3 chopped mushroom and 6 oz of ground turkey. Saute until brown.

Start water boiling for tortellini. Add and cook until they all float.

Add 1 diced tomato and 1 chopped zucchini and juice of 1/2 fresh lemon to the mix in the saute pan. Cook down to a sauce and stir in cooked tortellini.

Toasted Brussels Sprouts and Tortellini with Bratwurst & Tomatoes

Toasted Brussels Sprouts and Tortellini with Bratwurst and Tomatoes

This was a fast and simple meal. I first put a little olive oil in a skillet and turned the heat up to a medium low (4 out of 10 on the dial). Then I trimmed the ends off 6 brussels sprouts and cut them in half, placing them cut side down in the skillet. I sprinkled with a bit of kosher salt and put a lid over them and let them cook away.

Meanwhile, I put a tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan and grabbing a medium sweet onion and sliced off two slices about 1/4 inch thick and diced and tossed the onion into the oil. I grabbed one bratwurst and cut it into chunks a little less than an inch long. I added salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder (I used this instead of fresh garlic because while looking for the cumin in the cupboard, I knocked it off the shelf and a bunch of garlic powder spilled on the counter. I quickly opted for the powder over fresh in order to not let it go to waste.) and stirred everything together. Then I diced up a tomato and tossed it in, gave a quick stir and put a lid on. Then I checked my email.

After about 5 minutes or so, I checked the sprouts for tenderness. Once they were tender, I took the lid off so they could toast up a bit more. I put some water on to boil. Once it boiled, I tossed in some four cheese tortellini to cook. I turned the heat off the bratwurst sauce and the brussels sprouts so they were a serving temperature when I strained the tortellini. I threw the tortellini in with the sauce, gave a few quick stirs and turned it all out on a plate. I then used a spatula to gently lift the brussels sprouts from the pan and turned them onto the plate as well. I didn’t want to use a spoon and have the outer leaves come off. I shredded a bit of parmesan over the plate and enjoyed.

The caramelizing on the brussels sprouts was perfect, giving it a bit of nuttiness in contrast to the rich, velvety goodness of the brussels sprout. The pasta was a nice, bright mix of sweetness and acidity from the tomatoes and hearty umami from the bratwurst and tortellini.

Mushroom Beef Tortellini with Sauteed Veggies and Dill Sour Cream

Ground Beef & Mushroom Tortellini, Sauteed Veggies and Dill Sauce

This was a better-cook-this-before-it-turns meal and sometimes they are my favorites. I sauteed a quarter of an onion and a clove of garlic in 2 teaspoons of olive oil. I put in 1 tsp of oregano and 1/2 tsp of cumin and stirred them in before adding 1/4 pound of ground beef and two mushrooms. I turned the heat to medium-low and concentrated on the veggies.

I chopped up another quarter of onion and three cloves of garlic and tossed into a skillet with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. While the cooked I carefully cut up a zucchini and a summer squash and a red bell pepper. I had to peel the zucchini and squash as they were starting to turn and the peel looked unappetizing. I trimmed the ends that were also turning and tossed that away. The pepper, I cleaned and cut into strips. I tossed the pepper in first as it needed a bit more time to cook. After a couple minutes I added the green and yellow squash and put a lid on the pan. Before serving, I squeezed half a lemon on it to brighten the flavor. I added salt and pepper to taste.

I boiled water for the tortellini and added a cup of tortellini to the water. While the tortellini cooked, I put 1/4 of sour cream in a bowl, added some salt and 2 tsp of dill weed and the juice from half a lemon and mixed it all together for a sauce.

I strained the tortellini about a minute before it was done and stirred it into the meat sauce so it could absorb some of the meat sauce liquids.  I plated it with the veggies and the dill sauce on the side. I could not tell which loved the dill sauce more, the meat or the veggies. Everything was so delicious.

Pork Shoulder Steak with Blackberry Sauce and Mushrooms and Tortellini with Lemon/Brown Butter

Pork Steak with Blackberry Sauce, Tortellini and Mushrooms with Lemon Brown Butter

I picked up some raspberries, strawberries and blackberries at the Farmer’s Market. They are so yummy, picked at the peak of freshness – which means I want to cook them up right away. Pork loves fruit, so I decided to go with a pork steak. Mixed packs of pork chops, shoulder blade steaks and other pork steaks cuts were on sale for $1.99 per pound so I picked up a family pack. To top it off, they had a Buy Two Get One Free deal, though I don’t have the freezer space and had to pass.

I heated my skillet to medium heat, sprayed it lightly with olive oil spray and put a shoulder blade steak on to cook. These are thin cut, so I immediately put water on for the tortelli.

I put a couple tablespoons of white wine in a sauce pan. I cut two 1/8 inch thin slices off a medium onion and chopped very fine and tossed it in the wine. After the onions softened, I added a cup of blackberries and used a fork to crush them slightly. I added just a touch of salt. Because I planned to serve it on pork, I did not add any sugar, though if I were serving with beef or chicken, I would add a half teaspoon. I thought the pork would be sweet enough to not require sugar and I was right. It was unnecessary. By now it was time to flip the pork steak and start the tortelli.

While that was cooking, I sliced two large crimini mushrooms and tossed them in the water for the tortellini. I then added a cup of tortelli and let them boil.

I turned the heat up a bit on the sauce to cook it down quickly and poured it into a little bowl so I could rinse and reuse the sauce pan. I put the pork steak on the plate to rest and tossed a tablespoon of butter in the sauce pan and heated it until it turned brown. I then squeezed the juice from half a lemon in. I strained the tortellini and mushrooms and added them to the plate. I put the blackberry sauce on the steak and the brown butter on the pasta and added a few blackberries on the side.

It was delicious. The blackberry sauce was very tart but missed with the brown butter and the pork for a fabulously savory flavor. As to the pasta, there’s nothing quite like brown butter with a dash of lemon juice. Yummy!!

Beef & Mushroom Tortellini with Salad

Beef Mushroom Tortellini and Salad

I love to cook up a beef roast since I can cut it up for lots of quick little meals such as this Beef & Mushroom Tortellini. My best friend brought me a huge roast from her stockpile. She and her husband buy a whole cow each year directly from the farm and have it butchered for them, guaranteeing that they get grass-fed BGH-free beef at a reasonable price. I am an occasional benefactor and have to say, it’s much tastier than from the supermarket.

I started by sauteing onions and garlic. I think I start everything this way. I used about two 1/4 slices of onion and 1 clove of garlic. I then chopped up 1 large crimini mushroom and 3 ounces of roast beef which gave me roughly equivalent amounts of beef and mushroom. I tossed them in and added 2 TBSP of mustard and about 1 TBSP of water and put the lid on.

Meanwhile I started water boiling and added 1 cup of tortellini. When it was done, I strained it and tossed it in with the beef and folded it in. It was ready to serve.

While the tortellini cooked, I cut up a few romaine leaves, chopped up some olives and added about an ounce of feta with some of Girard’s Greek Feta Vinaigrette. I swear by that dressing. It is so delicious and tangy. I don’t use it just for salad. Sometimes I will dress cooked veggies or pasta with it.

Tortellini Primavera & Cucumber-Lettuce Salad

Zucchini & Tortellini with Cucumber Dressing Salad

I started the salad the night before when I had decided to make a raita. Unfortunately, I had already diced one cucumber and one medium onion before I noticed that I was out of plain yogurt. I decided to take another approach and poured about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and 2 tsp of dill weed on it, mixed it up and put it in the fridge. The next day, I took a bite, decided it needed a bit of softening and added a tbsp of mayonnaise and put it back until supper.

For the tortellini, I cut up and onion and sauteed it in olive oil with a clove of garlic. I added some fresh tarragon and let that cook with the onion and garlic. I put a pan of hot water on to boil After the onions softened, I cut up a zucchini and a summer squash and added them. I let them cook for about 5 minutes and added about 1.5 chopped fresh tomatoes. By now the hot water was boiling, so I tossed in a couple handfuls of tortellini. When they all floated, I strained the tortellini and stirred them into the vegetables and served.

While the tortelli boiled, I cut up a few leaves of romaine and tossed with the cucumber dressing. It was delicious and I will make it on purpose in the future. I loved the bite of the onion and vinegar with the creamy fresh cucumber, dill and mayo. Really an amazing new dish. The tortellini was tasty and savory with the fresh spring flavors of a primavera.

Tortellini Primavera

The zucchini at the store was pretty sad, but I bought some anyway just because I love zucchini. I knew I had to cook one for lunch today or lose it, so I started this lunch before I had completely made up my mind what I was going to make. I took out a small leek and cut a vertical slice about 1.5 inches from the end where I last cut, turned it and cut another slice. Then I made diagonal thin slices, giving myself tiny, 1/4 cuts of leek that I put in the skillet with 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. I cut up about 1/8 of a sweet red pepper and tossed it in. I took my zucchini and sliced it lengthwise twice, quatering it before cutting it on the diagonal. I wanted small chunks, not slices. Tossing that in with the leeks and red pepper, I added some salt and pepper and a tsp of oregano.

I remembered that i got a free bag of tortellini from Schwans and put some water on to boil with a bit of salt in the water. I measured out 1 cup of the tortellini to toss in when the water began to boil.

I cut 1/2 of a medium tomato in chunks and tossed that in with the veggies and put the lid on my skillet. I then picked cilantro leaves off the stems and chopped them up.

Water boiling now, I tossed in the tortelli and turned the heat off on the veggies, adding the cilantro and putting the lid on so the cilantro would wilt a little in the steam, but not get cooked. Four minutes later the tortellini was done, I dished it up with a slotted spoon and tossed the veggies on top.

It had a fresh bright flavor, very light and spring-like. There was just a bit of bite from the leeks, but the overall flavor was a light spring freshness. I thought about adding cheese, but decided it would just make it heavy and take away from its bright flavor and texture. I could have squeeze some fresh lemon juice on it and that would have been tasty, but didn’t think of that until I was done eating it. Next time!