Tortellini and Bean Soup

October 26, 2013 § 5 Comments

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The weather has finally caught up with the calendar I’m sorry to say. It’s almost November and we just now had out first frost. So far it’s been a warm, beautiful fall, some days in the 70′s but all good things must come to an end, said somebody. A pessimist I’m sure.

Well, summer has come to an end, fall is quickly turning to winter and there’s at least one good thing about cold weather I like, cooking hearty stews, roasts, casseroles and of course, soups. Foods that can simmer away on the stove while you’re doing other things, filling the house with wonderful aromas.

I’m getting carried away a little, back to soups. I always make sure to have the basic ingredients on hand, especially homemade chicken stock, so I have everything I need when the soup making mood strikes, as it did when I went shopping the other day and ended up buying some tortellini to add to the soup that was now simmering in my mind.

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This tortellini and bean soup is very satisfying, almost like a stew, perfect after a long walk out in the cold. And I’ve given you a long and short version of it. If you can, soak your fresh beans the night before. That’s the long version. If not, you can use canned. But the soaked bean version is so much better and not any harder, just takes a little longer to cook.

Long version:

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 large carrots, chopped into large pieces

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 cup dried beans, soaked overnight (navy, cannellini, lima, black, etc.) I used cannellini

6 cups good chicken stock

herbs like thyme, oregano, sage, about 1 tsp each dried, or you can use fresh also

1 bay leaf

1 small piece Parmesan rind

1 small piece of kelp (helps to soften and makes beans more digestible. Also adds vital iodine

salt and pepper, usually about 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and roughly chopped

1 pkg tortellini, cheese or meat filled (frozen is ok, no need to defrost when adding to soup)

fresh parsley or cilantro

Parmesan cheese for garnish

Sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and herbs in a little bit of olive oil until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the soaked and drained beans, the chicken stock, bay leaf, Parmesan rind and kelp. Add some salt and pepper. Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer, covered, until beans are done, anywhere from 45 minutes to over 2 hours, depending on the beans you use. Keep checking to make sure you have enough liquid, if needed add more stock or water. Keep testing them and when almost done, add the Swiss chard and tortellini to the pot. Bring to simmer again and cook about another 10 minutes or until tortellini is done. Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Take a small amount of the beans out and mash them up, then return to the pot. The kelp will now be very soft and almost dissolve as you stir the soup.

Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.

Short version: 

Same ingredients except for the beans, use 2 cans cooked organic beans of your choice, drained.

Sauté the first 4 ingredients and herbs in some olive oil about 10 minutes. Add the stock, bay leaf, Parmesan rind and kelp, add salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook about 30 minutes. Add the drained beans, Swiss chard and tortellini to the pot. Continue to cook until tortellini is done, about 10 minutes or so. Remove the rind and bay leaf, then take out some beans and mash them up to thicken it. The kelp will be very soft and break up as you stir the soup.

Top with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

You know you can vary this in many ways. Add some leftover meat from last night’s dinner, or other kinds of pasta. Add some potatoes to the simmering broth. Throw in some tomatoes, either fresh cherry or whole peeled canned. But don’t forget the Parmesan!

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