Tortellini and (heirloom) bean soup

So what happens when it starts to warm up in NYC? I get so happy. The sun is shining when I get to and when I leave work, the trees are green and the flowers are in bloom. And I can almost ride my bike without a jacket! It’s wonderful.

And then I get hot. It starts reaching mid-70’s during the day and our apartment just will not get cool until fall. 29th floor? What amazing views of the GW bridge you have! What a terrible hot box I have. A/C is either on (super cold and expensive) or off, and when it’s turned off, its like you never had it on. Oh, how I miss central air.

So what did my brother and I do? We made soup. Something that warms you up even more. We are ridiculous. But this soup was ridiculously delicious AND easy. Perhaps we will crank the A/C, get really cold, and eat up all the soup.

I found the recipe on this new food blog I found (it’s not really new, just new to me), where the author, Jenna, is living my dream. She is a classically trained chef, food photographer, freelance food writer and recipe developer.  Dream job. Her blog is called Eat, Live, Run and she’s fun to read and posts fun things on Facebook (they IPO-ed today, in case you live under a rock). She posted this recipe and I promise I didn’t pick it because it was so simple to make. I liked how it sounded – light and Italian-y, which it is. Here’s the link, since it’s her recipe. 🙂

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large fennel, diced
64 oz vegetable or chicken stock
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 package fresh tortellini pasta (either cheese or spinach)
2 cups either pinto, kidney or heirloom beans, either canned or cooked from scratch
3 cups fresh spinach or chopped swiss chard
Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot. Add the garlic and chopped fennel and saute for three-five minutes, until the fennel just begins to soften.
Quickly pulse the tomatoes in a blender or food processor to just barely puree (you still want some chunks). Add the chunky pureed tomatoes to the pot along with the stock, salt and pepper.
Bring the soup to a boil before adding the tortellini and beans. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about seven minutes until tortellini are puffy and cooked through.
Add the swiss chard or spinach to the pot and stir so that the greens wilt. Serve soup with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and additional salt, pepper or red pepper flakes to taste.
We made some modifications – I don’t like fennel so we didn’t use that. Matt (my brother, for you strangers, if there are any of you reading this) was disappointed I veto-ed it, and was grumbling about how good it would have been. And we didn’t feel like cooking our own beans from scratch, so we used canned pinto beans. Yay protein. Also, we used vegetable stock, so bonus points to us for being vegetarian. It could only be more delicious with chicken, so I wouldn’t worry if you are vegetarian and constrained to veggie stock because you will still get a great flavor.
As you can read, the recipe was fairly self explanatory, nothing tricky. It was good advice to pulse the food processor (another reason why I really like Jenna’s blog, it’s so informative and takes out the mystery). I only had San Marzano’s on hand, which were delicious, don’t get me wrong, but so not necessary.
We used regular swiss chard – I loved the flavor and the green and red colors were beautiful. Also, we used a whole bunch instead of 3 cups. Matt and I noticed that it was when we added the swiss chard that it really started to look like a delicious soup and it really came together. We initially only added the 3 cups, but noticed that it didn’t seem like very much, and after we’d served ourselves the first bowls, that we hadn’t left very much in the pot! Adding the rest of the bunch solved two problems: the lack of swiss chard left for future servings, and what the hell I was going to do with the rest of the swiss chard.
As for the beans – CBF soaking and making our own. Canned to the rescue! We drained the beans, but didn’t rinse. This brings me to the pasta. Matt thought the tortellini was the best part. I liked it a lot as well – the burst of cheese when you bit into one was yummy. They were also the most expensive part of the soup – something you could easily substitute with another dry pasta to save on calories and dollars. With the addition of pecorino on top at the end, you cover your cheese base. Mmmm.
We seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper in the middle, and added two pinches of chili flakes. I’m never a  fan of seasoning too much before the flavors have had time to develop and meld, so we held off with too much salt and pepper until closer to the end.  I liked the kick the chili flakes added – don’t add too much because you don’t want it to be the focus of the soup. This took us no time at all to throw together. It was really flavorful and it’s quite healthy as well! I’m starting to cool down, and just sent Matt to pick up some ice cream to help!

2 thoughts on “Tortellini and (heirloom) bean soup

  1. Matt was right. The fennel would have been grand. Over time I’ve learned to enjoy fennel so next time take the plunge and try.

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