My kitchen burn-out has finally ended. Maybe it’s the snowy day that just begged for soup. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve eaten up all the party leftovers. Maybe cooking is too much of a creative outlet for me to forsake it for too long. Whatever the reason, today was the day that I (finally!) reached for my wooden cutting board and favorite chef’s knife.
As if to prove how little cooking I’ve done this week, I had to start with a quick inventory of my produce bin. Carrots. Onions. Garlic. Potatoes. Acorn squash. Pretty much the entire contents of last week’s CSA delivery. I grabbed the first three ingredients and some Italian sausage, and began the soothing process of making a favorite at our house: Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini.
This recipe came to me from a talented cook and mother of four, so you know it fits my criteria of being 1) healthy and yummy; 2) quick; and 3) kid-friendly. Sometimes I make it as written, with organic beef broth and red wine. Sometimes I make it with homemade chicken stock and white wine. Since I have red wine leftover from the party, today I made the former, although I have to say I’m partial to the chicken stock/white wine version, probably because the homemade chicken stock adds that sumptuous layer of flavor.
Besides being a one-pot meal, this soup is fantastic because it’s so quick to make. You start by browning the sausage, and by the time it’s done, you’ve chopped the onion, garlic, carrots and zucchini. Everything else gets simmered together, filling the house with warm, hearty smells. My kids joined in the fun (four-year-old on the left, scrubbing carrots; seven-year-old at right, peeling them), happy to be part of the action and sensing, perhaps, that the kitchen is the foundation of our family, and family meals are the foundation of our home.
Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini
1 lb Italian sausage, not in casing
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 cups chicken stock (or organic beef broth)
1 cup water
3/4 cup white wine (or red, if using beef broth)
14 oz can diced organic tomatoes*
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 cups sliced zucchini or squash
14 oz cooked chickpeas
8 oz cheese tortellini
3 T chopped parsley
Brown sausage in a large dutch oven over medium heat. (Or use sausage in a casing and slice in half lengthwise, then in slices when cooked through). Reserving 1 T of fat in pan, remove sausage and drain on paper towels. Cook onions and garlic until tender. Add sausage, broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil and oregano. Let boil, then simmer 15 minutes. Add zucchini and chickpeas simmer until vegetables are cooked. In a separate pot, cook tortellini and add it to the soup just before serving so the noodles don’t get mushy. Top with parsley and parmesan cheese when serving.
*As I’ve recently written, there’s concern over BPA levels in the lining of some canned foods such as tomatoes. Look for ones in glass jars or Pomi brand in cartons.
** Okay, it’s not technically a one-pot meal since I cooked the tortellini separately. When I’m so pressed for time that I don’t want even one more pot to wash, I’ve cooked the tortellini in the soup (as specified in the original recipe), but I find that cooking them separately is worth it, especially if I’m cooking the soup ahead.