Tag Archives: cooking tips

Easy Chicken Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup - From NanaBread to You, With Love


I just love this recipe. It’s quick, easy, flavorful and satisfying. A friend shared it with me in the early 1990’s when we were working on a church cookbook and I’ve been making it ever since. She made hers with ground beef and beef broth, but I prefer this lighter chicken version.

Ingredients List:

1 rotisserie chicken (plain) from your grocer’s deli
1 32-oz. carton of organic chicken broth
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15-oz. can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 9-oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 10-oz. package of cheese tortellini (refrigerated or frozen)
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon of McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
pinch of dried oregano and basil
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
parmesan cheese & chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley, for garnish

Place the rotisserie chicken in a large heavy-bottomed pot and pour in the carton of chicken broth. Cover and simmer until the chicken is thoroughly heated and begins to fall apart. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and allow it to cool until you can chop it without burning yourself. Strain the chicken broth to remove any kibbles and bits and return it to the pan. If needed, add a cup or two of water to create more broth. (May be necessary if your broth simmers too long and/or reduces too quickly.)

Over medium heat, bring the broth back to a simmer. Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes and seasonings. If you like a little spice, throw in that pinch of red pepper flakes. While that simmers, bone the chicken and chop it into bite-size pieces. If you’re feeding a crowd, use all of the chopped chicken. If you’re not, use half the chicken and save the rest for chicken salad tomorrow night. Return the chopped chicken to the pot. Add the spinach and tortellini. Simmer for an additional 15-20 minutes. Taste to see if it needs additional salt and pepper. I also like to taste one of the tortellini to make sure they’re done. If you like your soup on the thicker side, combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and whisk until smooth; stir into the soup.

To serve, spoon into bowls and top with chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese. A great loaf of crusty bread is the perfect side to this soup.

Substitutions:
1. make with beef broth and ground beef (my friend’s version)
2. use cheese, spinach, or meat tortellini – your choice
3. use mini-ravioli instead of tortellini
4. leave out the tomatoes for a clear broth (great for colds)
5. substitute the pasta of your choosing for the tortellini
6. substitute browned Italian sausage for chicken or beef
7. substitute fresh spinach, kale or other favorite greens

Helpful Hint:
Prepping early can save a ton of time! Simmer your chicken in broth in advance. Strain the broth and store in airtight containers until needed (fridge for 2-3 days/freezer for 2-3 weeks). Bone and chop the chicken and refrigerate or freeze separately from the broth. If you prep these 2 things in advance, you can make this soup in under an hour. Just place the frozen broth in a pan and heat to simmering. Add the chicken and other ingredients, except for the parsley and parmesan. Heat until thoroughly warmed, season to taste, and sprinkle with parsley and parmesan cheese. See? I told you it was easy.

Go make this soup. You know you want to.

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Substitutions, Weights & Equivalents…sounds like my old science homework

Martha Stewart’s “Cooks Helpers” in my previous post got me thinking about emergency substitutions. For example: what happens if I need a cup of heavy cream, but don’t have any? What if a recipe calls for brown sugar, but I only have white? Is there a substitution for molasses if I don’t have any for my baked beans or cookies? {Perish the thought!} If I have only all-purpose flour, can I make it work if the recipe clearly calls for cake flour? I think you get the picture. A good substitution list is something I could really use when I’m in the middle of a recipe before I realize I’m out of something. Luckily, there are substitutions for just about anything. And since Al Gore invented the Internet (thank you kindly, sir), information is now at our fingertips. Unfortunately, it’s not always in the same place. After a little searching, here are a few I think are useful.

EMERGENCY SUBSTITUTIONS:

Baking Powder (1 tsp.) – sift together ¼ tsp. baking soda & ½ tsp. cream of tartar; use immediately

Brown Sugar, Light (1 cup) – process 1 cup granulated sugar & 1 Tbsp. molasses in a food processor

Brown Sugar, Dark (1 cup) – process 1 cup granulated sugar & 2 Tbsp. molasses in a food processor

Buttermilk (1 cup) – combine 1 cup of milk with 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice or white vinegar; let stand for 10 minutes before using; use in cooked applications only, not raw (such as Ranch dressing)

Chocolate, Unsweetened (1 oz.) – blend 3 Tbsp. of cocoa powder with 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil

Flour, Cake (1 cup) – measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour; remove 2 Tbsp. and replace them with 2 Tbsp. of cornstarch; sift before using

Flour, Self-Rising (1 cup) – measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour; add 1 ½ tsp. baking powder & 1/8 tsp. salt

Flour, Whole Wheat (1 cup) – measure 1 cup of all-purpose flour; remove 2 Tbsp. and replace them with 2 Tbsp. of wheat germ

Half-and-Half (1 cup) – combine ¾ cup whole milk and ¼ cup heavy cream OR blend 2/3 cup skim milk with 1/3 cup heavy cream

Herbs, Fresh (1 Tbsp.) – use 1 tsp. of the same herb, dried

Milk, Whole (1 cup) – combine ¾ cup of 2% milk and ¼ cup half-and-half

Molasses (1 cup) – blend ¾ cup dark brown sugar with ¼ cup water

Wine (1/2 cup) – combine ½ cup of broth & 1 tsp. of lemon juice; add just before serving

And what if you don’t have a kitchen scale (don’t gasp, bakers), but your recipe is listed in ounces? Fear not. Here’s a basic guide to help you avoid a disaster.

MEASUREMENT VS WEIGHT:
Flour, All-Purpose (1 cup) = 5 ounces
Flour, Whole Wheat (1 cup) = 5.5 ounces
Sugar, White (1 cup) = 7 ounces
Sugar, Brown & Packed (1 cup) = 7 ounces
Sugar, Powdered (1 cup) = 4 ounces
Cocoa Powder (1 cup) = 3 ounces

That doesn’t cover everything, but it gets you started. One last helpful list:

MEASURING EQUIVALENTS:
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
4 tablespoons = ¼ cup
8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup = 4 fluid ounces
16 tablespoons = 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces
2 cups = 1 pint = 16 fluid ounces
4 cups = 2 pints = 1 quart = 32 fluid ounces
4 quarts = 1 gallon = 128 fluid ounces

Okay, I’m done. I don’t know about you, but I’m printing this and posting it in my spice cabinet with Martha’s Helpers. You never know when it might come in handy. And it might eliminate some of the cursing that comes out of my kitchen. Maybe. No guarantees. But there’s hope. Sort of. Maybe not. I’ll try. I promise.

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