Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup with Pistou

Tonight was a night like any other. With not much time, I needed to execute a decent dinner for two starving children.

I try not to serve ready-made processed food, but I do take the liberty to have shortcuts lying around in wait. I am not ashamed to have some easy, ready-to-go meal starters. Tonight’s meal starter was on of those boxed organic soups. I love them. They aren’t good on their own, but used as a base to something – they work out well. I usually just buy the vegetable broth cartons to keep on hand, but a recent trip to Trader Joe’s had me buying some other flavors to play with.

A quick scan of the pantry and freezer when I got home this evening revealed the perfect quick fix for tonight. We had creamy tomato tortellini soup with a basil pistou. I had everything ready to go! Dinner came together in less than a half hour and the kids were ecstatic with full bellies. I served the soup with some good crusty ciabatta bread and some chopped veggies. Everyone is happy tonight.

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup with Pistou

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 carton of tomato soup (I used the boxed Trader Joes)
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 cup of milk
2 tsp. italian seasoning
1/4 cup chopped basil
salt (to taste)
red pepper flakes (optional)
1.5 cups of small tortellini
1/2 cup pesto (I prepare in large batches and then freeze in ice cube trays)
Parmesean Cheese, grated

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil on medium-hight heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes on medium.

Add in the canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, milk, and the boxed soup. Add in the spices. With an immersion blender, puree the soup.

Bring the soup to a boil. Add in the tortellini. Let cook for 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is done. If using fresh tortellini, this will only take about 5 minutes.

Serve the soup in a bowl with a spoon of pesto and some grated parmesean cheese. Enjoy!

Potato Leek Soup

Last week I picked up my younger daughter from daycare and was informed that there were some issues with her food and eating. I got all nervous. I couldn’t imagine what the problem could be. I prepare her lunches. I send it to daycare. She is fed. End of story, right? Well, I was wrong. Apparently, her well-meaning teacher is concerned. She doesn’t like that my daughter gets the same rendition of food each week. There is some variety, but I do admit, it is pretty predictable. The teacher was concerned that we were depriving her and decided to take matters in to her own hands. She fed my daughter some of the non-kosher, sodium-filled, school served chicken soup. There was a meeting after school discussing the events of the day. I went home with some guilty-parent syndrome. Maybe I do need to start sending some new lunch options, but what will she eat? So I am on the road to becoming a super-duper lunch maker. For the younger daughter only. The older daughter still insists on peanut butter sandwiches, cream cheese sandwiches, or pasta in a thermos. Ah Well.

Potato Leek Soup is a wonderful hearty and warm soup. It is perfect for chilly winter nights along with a salad. This soup only works when you stick to the recipe. You should never skimp by substituting the butter, or anything else for that matter. It is a very simple soup and comes together in minutes.

Potato Leek Soup

4 leeks, only the whites, halved, washed, and sliced (Leeks are very sandy – wash carefully)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 stick of butter
5 medium potatoes, diced

1 carton of veggie broth, or 4-5 cups
4 cups of water

2 teaspoons of marjoram

In a large pot, saute the leeks, onions, and garlic in the butter. Cook on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Add in the diced potatoes. Stir to coat the potatoe in some of that yummy butter.

Add in the broth, water, and seasonings.

After the soup comes to a boil, turn it to medium-low. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, mash the potatoes and stir, or blend with an immersion blender to your desired consistency. I prefer the blender method.

In crafty news, I knit my first hat!

Split Pea Soup with Flanken

I came home from work Thursday night, looked at the weather, looked inside my freezer, and was disturbed. I had no soup left. The school superintendent and the weathermen were both predicting snowstorms. I needed something warm and hearty for a Shabbat soup. The only requirement was that I must be able to make matzah balls with it.
I looked though my pantry and fridge and decided on split pea soup. I normally cook it with a smoked turkey leg to give it that treife split pea soup with ham taste, but I didn’t have any smoked turkey and the kosher store was out of it. I opted for flanken and flanken bones. The soup is very good and there is plenty leftover for a few more dinners.

Split Pea Soup with Flanken

1 pound of boneless flanken
3/4 pound of flanken bones
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 cups of split peas
8-10 cups of water
2 tsp. dried thyme or 3 sprigs fresh
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper the meat thoroughly. In your soup pot, brown the meaty bits in some olive oil. After 5-10 minutes, add in your mirepoix of chopped celery, carrots, and onions.Let oy saute for 5-10 minutes.
While the meat and veggies are sauteeing, rinse the split peas.

Pour the split peas in to the pot. Stir. Add in the bay leaves and the thyme.
Pour in the water.

Let the soup come to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours, until reduced to your desired thickness.

French Onion Soup

I love soup. It’s the perfect meal for me at the end of the day. I eat French onion soup as an indulgence maybe twice a year. I love it, but most restaurants don’t get it right. I have resisted making my own as I didn’t have the special crocks. I finally bought two of the soup bowls at The Bowery Restaurant Supply store. They were only $4 each – score! I got to work.

The soup itself is very easy to make. I like using a variety of onions to get the taste just right.

French Onion Soup

2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 small yellow onions
3 shallots
4 garlic cloves
1 Vidalia onion
2 small red onions
1 tbsp. thyme
1 tsp. sugar
7 cups vegetable broth
1 cup white wine
tbsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

Sauté the onions in a small amount of butter and some olive oil along with a teaspoon of sugar.

Sauté just until it starts to brown. Some people add flour to make a roux, but I don’t.

Add beef or vegetable broth, white wine and a few tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.

Let it get to a boil on high.

Switch it to medium low and then cover it while it cooks for 45 minutes.

While the soup is cooking, slice up a crusty baguette. Toast it in the oven for 10-15 minutes. I rubbed a little garlic and olive oil on it before toasting.

Slice up some swiss cheese.

Taste the soup for doneness.

Ladle the soup into the special bowl.

Put the bread croutons you just made on the soup.

Lay the cheese on top. Put in the oven at 425 for 10 minutes. Soup Heaven!

Chicken Soup

I am sorry I have been neglectful. I have been cooking. I just got back from a mini-vacation to The City of Brotherly Love. It was a nice trip. After 4 days of eating in restaurants though, I wanted something comforting and home-made. It had to be soup. There is something so comforting and warming about the perfect chicken soup. Throw in a matzo ball and a few egg noodles, and I am in soup heaven.

Of course everyone has their own version of chicken soup. Some like it packed with stuff, some like broth, some like lots of chicken parts in it, some even add meat to it (the horror!). I like my soup simple. I like it with some veggies, but with the broth strained. I like minimal chicken parts in the soup.

I was never given a recipe for soup. I am sure if I asked my mom, she would give me a rundown of what needs to go in soup. What I learned about soup, I learned from watching – except my mom does her chicken parts differently.

I used a huge stock pot, so I can freeze several meals of soup for later. I gather carrots, 3 yellow onions, 1 head of garlic, 3 parsnip, 2 turnips, celery, and some fresh dill, salt, pepper, a bay leaf, and of course – the chicken. This batch was made with a couple pounds of chicken wings, but any bone-in chicken parts would work. My mom uses a “soup chicken,” but I can’t get those at my local store.

I chop up the veggies.

Sauté the chopped onions, carrots, and celery. When the veggies are soft, add in the root veggies. I sometimes will add some sweet potato to the mix. Fill up the pot – not too full so it boils over, with cold water. I then put the chicken parts in a cheesecloth bag and deposit it in the soup-to-be. Add in the bay leaf and dill. The stove should be set to medium-high. The lid should be off. Let the soup come to a boil, this can take 30 minutes or so, depending on amount of liquid. I like to let the soup boil down a bit with the lid halfway on, so that the soup flavor is more concentrated. After slow boiling it for an hour, I let the soup simmer on low-ish overnight – the way my mom does it. In the morning you have an amazing wonderful smell coming from your kitchen.

Let the soup cool. Place the soup in to containers for eating later, or dig in. As far as the whole matzo ball/noodle part of the soup, those should not be frozen. Matzo balls and noodles should be made the day of soup eating. I buy my noodles. I like the thin egg noodles. I like the matzo ball mixes just fine, but the recipes that are on the back of the matza meal boxes work just fine. If you want your matza balls extra fluffy, some like to add a little bit of seltzer to the mix. Enjoy!

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