Monday, February 4, 2008

The Simplicity of Soup

Nothing is better on a cold winter day than a nice bowl of hot soup. Whether it is from a can (I love Progresso Lentil), a box (Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato is terrific), or from a packet (okay, maybe skip that one), soup makes the perfect lunch, a great starter at dinnertime, or even a nourishing snack. However, what a lot of people don't realize is just how simple it is to make delicious, homemade soup from scratch. With the help of a few shortcuts, you can whip up a steaming pot of soup in literally minutes.

"Souper Simple Soups" is one of the most popular classes I teach, and with good reason. In under two hours, we make four fantastic soups which are easy to replicate at home. One soup, Tortellini in Brodo with Spinach, is so simple that I almost axed it from the menu in the weeks preceeding the first class. My mother encouraged me to keep it in the line-up (it is one of her favorites), but I was concerned the recipe wasn't substantial enough for a class. Much to my surprise, it turned out to be the hands-down favorite of all my students. Yes, mom, as usual, you were right. ;)

The first time I had Tortellini in Brodo (tortellini in broth) was in Italy. I quickly discovered that this is a staple in nearly every Italian restaurant, akin to our Chicken Noodle. It is exactly what it sounds like; tortellini in broth. Simple. Unadorned. Classicly Italian. To add a bit more nutritional value, I like to add fresh spinach leaves right at the end of cooking, which also gives it fantastic color. You could use fresh parsley or basil instead, but I just love the way the spinach looks and tastes in this dish. The best part is that the entire soup is finished in only the amount of time it takes for the tortellini to cook! So get cooking! Winter is the perfect time for soup!

NOTE: As a special event, I'll be teaching a free, one-hour soups class at Williams-Sonoma in Westport, CT on Sunday, February 17 from 10-11am. Call the store at 221-8667 to register.

Tortellini in Brodo with Spinach
Serves 4

6 cups good quality canned chicken broth
½ lb dried cheese tortellini (or your favorite variety)
6 oz baby spinach, washed
Grated parmesan cheese

Heat broth in a medium saucepan until boiling.
Add tortellini, and cook until tender.
Add spinach, stir to allow it to wilt, and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

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