Monday, March 26, 2012

Italian Penicillin: Chicken Tortellini Soup

Italian Penicillin: Chicken Tortellini Soup

I whomped up this soup for my sister-in-law this morning. Granted, what she’s got is going to need a lot more than soup, but for the moment, soup will have to do. I’ve always called this soup Italian Penicillin, as it’s been known to cure middling sniffles, broken hearts and occasional hangovers. It’s a rich, chickeny chicken soup on steroids: Double strength chicken stock bolstered up by more chicken. Add in a nice mix of vegetables, herbs, some pesto or cheese tortellini, and serve it up in a big bowl sprinkled with good Parmesan. At this point it ceases to be a bowl of soup and becomes a bowl of love. That's all I can do for her right now, a big warm hug in a bowl.

Please try this recipe and feed it to those you love.

Notes: If you don’t make your own rich chicken stock, (I'll post a killer version that'll give you stock like this soon) I suggest looking for 4 quarts of no salt added chicken stock (it exists) and cooking it down by half. Or use the low sodium, boil it down, and add NO salt to the soup until you taste it. If you can’t find small dried soup tortellini, either use the small dried soup ravioli, or just add fresh or frozen regular tortellini after the vegetables are tender and cook for as long as the package directions tell you to.

Chicken Tortellini Soup aka Italian Penicillin
Serves 6

2 quarts of double strength low or unsalted chicken stock
4 large chicken thighs with skin and bone
1 large onion diced
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup diced carrots
2 garlic cloves minced
1 14.5- oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
1T dry basil
1T dry oregano
1 tsp. dry thyme
2 bay leaves
pinch of hot pepper flakes
1 quart of water
½ pound of small dried soup tortellini (pesto or cheese filled)
1 10-oz. bag of baby spinach
Black pepper and salt to taste
Grated Parmesano Reggiano for serving, or a Pecorino Romano

Get a big soup pot, at least 8 quarts and dump the chicken thighs in, and then add the chicken stock. Bring it to a boil on high heat, cover, lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon and let it cool a bit.

Turn the heat back up under the now-enriched stock, and add everything up to and including the extra quart of water. Bring again to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Pick the chicken meat off the bones, cut into bite sized pieces and add the meat to the soup pot. Discard the skin and bones. Add the tortellini and cook about 15-20 minutes until they soften. Taste one to see if they’re done. Stir in the spinach and cook for two minutes. Add a little more water if it's not soupy enough as those tortellini can be thirsty!

Serve in a big bowl and pass the Parm or Romano on the side. Or put some in a big jar and take it to someone who needs a hug.

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