I’ve mentioned before my propensity towards soup-making, and of course that I’m part of a CSA. One of the easiest ways to use up lots of leafy greens, aside from sauteeing, is putting them in soup. There are so many different kinds of soup you can make, but this is one of my favorite, one of the easiest in my opinion, and one of the most versatile.
The addition of tortellini makes it a complete meal. You can use fresh, frozen, you can make your own; I chose to use Buitoni, which I find easily in my local Stop&Shop refrigerated section (and sometimes I buy extra and freeze it; it keeps well). By the way, I tried once to use the store brand, and it was NOT GOOD. I don’t know if it was the kind I got (their Italian sausage tortellini), because I’ve generally had good results using store brand items, for a lower cost obviously, but the inside tasted mealy and mushy – and no, I didn’t overcook it. Since that experience, I’ve stuck to Buitoni for my tortellini needs; as my budget grows, I’m sure I’ll “graduate” to buying fresh pastas from the multitude of Italian specialty stores to which I have access.
My point is: use whatever you want. You can use ravioli, plain pasta shapes, filled pastas, whatever strikes your fancy. Heck, skip the pasta altogether and use beans, or use beans AND pasta. As I said, this is one of the most versatile soup “recipes” I’ve found.
You can use any sort of leafy greens, as well, though if you’re like me and like to make a big pot of soup to keep reheating, your results will be better if you use a hardier green like collards, kale, chard, as opposed to say, spinach. Or you can use spinach but only put it fresh in each bowl as you serve it, ladling the super hot/boiling soup over it to cook, instead of putting it all in the pot at once to cook, because it’ll just break down by the end of the week and you’ll be left with green broth and no spinach of which to speak.
Whatever you do, though, the point is to enjoy the end result. Find your balance and what works for your taste buds, and learn to work within that range of flavors and tastes.
Couple cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, diced
Red pepper flakes
Leafy greens (I used kale and beet greens here)
Low sodium chicken stock (you can use veggie stock to make this vegetarian, or use plain water, but I prefer the richness chicken stock offers*)
Tortellini (I used Buitoni tricolor cheese tortellini)
Salt/pepper to taste
Heat a large soup pot – or your enameled cast iron pot – over a medium-low flame. Once hot, add extra virgin olive oil, and once that’s hot, add the garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. (I sometimes add Italian seasoning here as well.) Once the onions are translucent, add the greens and some salt/pepper, tossing lightly with the garlic/onions. After the greens are coated, add stock to cover. Bring to a simmer; add tortellini and cook to package’s instructions. (If you plan on reheating the soup the whole week, try cooking it to a little less than their specifications – unless it’s meat, then you want to cook it fully. If you hate mushy pasta, it may be wise to cook the tortellini separately and add to each bowl as you go, or it might be too mushy by the end of the week for your tastes.) Taste for seasoning, and adjust according to your tastes.
Serve and enjoy!
*According to some famous food writer, stock is an unnecessary purchase. Water suffices because you are going to season it anyway, so what’s the difference? This may be true, but if you start with water, note that you will need to add a whole lot more flavor than you may be used to doing. Also note that in a vegetarian dish like this, the fattiness/richness found in chicken stocks will be missing, and you may feel your soup lacks depth, as I did (I’ve made this soup countless times, both with water and with chicken stock, and once or twice with a can of diced tomatoes added as well). If you’re a vegetarian, then it is really no big deal, but for me, it was a noticeable and unwelcome difference – if I make this dish again, it will certainly be with chicken stock, is all.
**While this dish is vegetarian, I remade it a week later and made mini-meatballs to go in the soup, and that was awesome.
***I also decided one day, on a whim, to dollop a bit of my cilantro sauce on top. Oh my goodness, that was good. If you like cilantro or like that sauce, I highly recommend trying this; it added a real brightness to the soup and brought it in a completely new direction. YUM.