I started out slowly though - I had a chicken carcass in the refrigerator and made my own chicken stock. That isn't necessary! You can take the shortcut of using canned broth from the market, or opening a jar of homemade, home-canned broth. You can use vegetable stock instead, if you prefer. Soup is very forgiving.
To make the stock, I put the chicken bones in the Crockpot the night before, added a bag of onion skins, carrot peels and celery leaves from the freezer (I save those things for stock-making), and covered it all with water. I let it cook all night long, and strained out the solids in the morning. It made 2 3/4 quarts of stock. I used the 3 cups in the soup, poured the rest into Ziploc freezer bags - 2 cups in each one - and put them in the freezer for another day.
Ok, now that we have broth, on to the soup!
I chopped a small onion, melted 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy pan, and sautéed the onion until softened. Next I added the minced garlic, salt and pepper, and cooked for a few more minutes.
To make it a bit thicker, I added a tablespoon of flour and stirred it all together. I added 3 tablespoons of leftover spaghetti sauce and the paprika. The recipe said to use tomato paste, but I didn't want to open a can for that little bit, so spaghetti sauce to the rescue.
Next I added the chopped spinach and let it wilt in the heat. Spinach pretty much disappears into nothing when you cook it. You might want to add more than you think you want in your soup, because it doesn't look like there's much in mine.
In went the chicken stock and a quart of chopped tomatoes. Yes, the recipe wanted me to use a can of crushed or stewed tomatoes. A quart of home-canned tomatoes would work well too. At the end of the summer I'd tossed all my washed tomatoes into zipper bags and stuck them in the freezer "to can later." With all that's been going on, I haven't gotten it done yet, so I used one of the freezer bags.
Just run those frozen tomatoes under hot water from the kitchen faucet and the skin will loosen almost immediately. It's very easy to peel off. Then I chopped them up and filled up my quart measuring cup. It all went into the pot.
Then I added two cans of drained and rinsed cannellini beans. I imagine any white bean will do. I've canned kidney beans before; white beans would be just as easy, so you could use two pints of home-canned beans if you have them. (You do need a pressure canner to do it properly.)
The final step is to add the tortellini, either fresh-made, dried or frozen - just don't use cooked pasta. Cook according to package directions; the label on my package said ten minutes. You don't want to overcook it so that it gets mushy.
Since I was making this to eat for lunch over the next several days, I didn't add the whole package of tortellini. I'll add some to each serving as I heat it for lunch. How about adding some croutons? Or grated cheese? Or all of the above? I thought the star of the dish would be the tortellini, but honestly it's the tomatoes. They taste like summer and the soup even smells like fresh tomatoes. Your mileage may vary on that though.
White Bean Tortellini Soup
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 quart of canned tomatoes (or 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes)
2 pints of cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken stock
8 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
8 ounces of cheese tortellini
Melt butter in a heavy pan on medium heat. Add onion and saute until softened. Add garlic, salt, pepper and paprika; saute for a few additional minutes. Add a tablespoon of flour, stir to coat. Add tomato paste. Use a whisk if necessary to combine.
Add the chopped spinach and cook just long enough for the spinach to wilt. Add chicken stock, canned tomatoes and drained cannellini beans. Raise the heat a bit and add the tortellini, cooking according to package directions. Don't overcook. Spoon into bowls and if desired, add grated cheese and/or croutons.
A Month of Soups 2014:
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
Ham and Bean Soup
Beef Barley Soup
White Bean Tortellini Soup - this post
A Month of Soups 2013:
Chicken and Mushroom Soup
Broccoli and Cheddar Soup
French Onion Soup
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a