Posts tagged ‘soup’

Step by Step: Tortellini, Tomato and Spinach Soup

My mother-in-law is a really good cook.  I’m not just saying that because I know she’s reading this, it’s true.  She’s also extremely willing to pass along recipes, which is great for my Rachael Ray filled recipe binder.  Plus, it always works in my favor to cook something from Brian’s days at home once in a while, especially since we know it’s been well tested.  One of the recipes she’s given me that I’ve made several times is a soup of tortellini, tomato and spinach.

Fortunately, to make this  soup, you don’t really have to be a good cook.  You also don’t have to have a lot of time, or a lot of ingredients.  It’s that easy.  Who could ask for more?

Tortellini, Tomato and Spinach Soup

adapted from my mother-in-law, serves about 4.

You’ll need:
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
3.5 cups vegetable broth
8 oz fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes, undrained and cut up
grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add 2 cloves crushed (or poorly chopped, in my case) garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes.


2. Add vegetable broth and tortellini.

Heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

3. Add spinach and tomatoes.

Simmer for 5 more minutes.

4. Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

tortellini soup

Could it be any easier than that?
One of the best things about this recipe is that all the ingredients can be kept on hand to use for those times when you don’t know what to make for dinner.

September 14, 2009 at 9:28 am 2 comments

Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Sour Cream

Question: What’s vegetarian, easy and fast to make, apparently better than my gazpacho, only takes 2 steps and only needs 10 basic ingredients?

Answer: Food & Wine’s Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraîche”.

tomato soup

I’m really ready for fall, and thankfully it’s starting to feel like it around here.  Nevertheless, it still seems a little early to be making soup (Brian and I have grand plans to spend the entire winter making and eating soups).  Luckily, my free September 2009 issue of Food & Wine contained the perfect solution:  Chilled Tomato Soup with Tarragon Crème Fraîche”.  The ingredient list is really simple: tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, vegetable broth, olive oil, sugar, salt, pepper, crème fraîche and tarragon. Chances are, you already have almost all of those ingredients.

Ultimately, I halved the recipe (which then ended up only getting us through last night because Brian and I both had two servings), omitted the salt and pepper (I like to leave out salt whenever possible, especially since my broth wasn’t low sodium) and substituted sour cream for crème fraîche, because my supermarkets don’t appear to carry it.  And what was I going to do with leftover crème fraîche?

Brian and I both loved the soup, possibly even more than the gazpacho I made a few months ago.  The flavor is really fresh and I’ll eat anything with tarragon in it.  It’s a summer soup and not particularly hearty so I would recommend serving it as a side or getting a good loaf of bread to go with it.

My soup craving is satisfied for the moment…but I’m still looking forward to making “real soup” in the near future.

September 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Gazpacho is Love

When I was in high school, every time my Spanish class was having a fiesta, I volunteered to make gazpacho.  Looking back, I’m not really sure why that was the case, except that I thought it was “real food” (as in, required more effort than buying chips and salsa) and my Spanish teacher always seemed to get excited when I offered to bring it.  Perhaps I was a bit of a suck up.

Now, what seems like lifetimes (but is more like 8 years) later, I love gazpacho (that’s cold tomato soup, for the uninitated) because it’s fresh, its simple, its refreshing (summer has finally come to the Berkshires!) and it’s vegetarian!  What more could I ask for, really?

If you were to google gazpacho, you end up with a million results and recipes.  But I like to stick with what I know and have been doing for years, as follows:


(serves about 6)

6 tomatoes
1.5 cups tomato juice (aka a 12 oz. can of tomato juice or V8…perfect if you don’t use tomato juice for anything else)
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Tabasco to taste

1. Remove the skin from the tomatoes by putting them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then moving them to cold water.

2.  Chop the tomatoes.

3.  Mix all the ingredients.

4. Chill the soup until ready to eat.  Serve with tortilla chips.

It’s that simple!  4 steps and you’ve got dinner…or, in our case, 3 nights of dinner!

Variation (recommended by my Man):  Puree chopped tomatoes in the food processor before adding the rest of the ingredients.  Plus there’s a world of vegetables that could be added.

In other news, I’m feeling better about all my complaints in Updates and Confessions.  I’ve at least partially met all my goals.  Writing the post made me much more aware of what I was putting into my body, and I’m doing better as a result.  It’s still really difficult to eat what I want to eat and meet the budget I’m trying to, but we haven’t even been married a month yet, so there’s time to work that out.  There’s several blogs I follow that feature inexpensive dinners, but frequently they contain ingredients I don’t, or shouldn’t, eat anymore.  Oh well, one step at a time.  My Man and I also joined our local gym, and I actually made my way there this morning.  It’s good to get back into the workout routine again after abandoning it following graduation.

July 21, 2009 at 11:46 am 2 comments

Remind me why I’d make my own stock

With apologies to Anthony Bourdain, Mark Bittman and all those other “real” chefs out there who might like to string me up for what I am about to say (I’m sure there are a lot them out there).


I made rediculously good soup yesterday.  With Better Than Boullion Organic Vegetable Base instead of homemade vegetable stock.  Now, my perspective is a little skewed because I’ve never made vegetable stock, so maybe I don’t know what I’m missing, but it was darn good soup.  And it was vegan.  And my parents liked it (I’m sure the lack of beans helped). Thanks Better Than Boullion!

March 9, 2009 at 7:38 pm 1 comment

Breaking the Rules

Overall, I’m doing really well with my decision to not eat meat once a day, a decision which essentially cuts my meat consumption in half.  It’s been a good choice I think: forces me to think about what I’m eating, requires that I shop and make myself lunch to bring to school.  I’ve become acutely aware of which restaurants have decent vegetarian offerings on their menus.  Its a good thing.

I’ve settled into a nice routine where I food shop and cook my lunch for the week on Sundays.  Last Sunday I made Mushroom and Barley Soup from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  Even though it was for lunches, I made my parents try it.  My mom said she liked it better than the Tarascan soup I made (how is that possible? That soup’s great!).  Dad was pretty grossed out; he doesn’t like mushrooms.  Points to both of them for trying; I will spread the gospel of homemade food and vegetarian meals! The soup wasn’t the best thing I’d ever eaten, but it was pretty good and I was proud of myself for eating vegetarian (vegan, even), cooking my own food and sucessfully dealing with dried porcini mushrooms and barley, neither of which I’d done before.

img_0392 img_0391 img_0393 img_0396

That was Sunday.  Today is Friday.  And despite the fact that I still have a serving left (Side note: how is it possible that no matter how closely I follow a recipe, even if I halve the recipe, I still end up with more servings than the recipe says I will?), I could not bear mushroom and barley soup for the fifth day in a row.  Not when there was a serving of left over ravioli sitting in the fridge.  Chicken ravoli.

So, I broke my own rule.  Maybe I won’t eat meat for dinner (unlikely, if one of my parents cooks). I feel a little bad about it, but not much.  The ravioli was darn good.  I’m pretty sure ravioli, tomato sauce and 2 tangerines for dessert still doesn’t qualify as a “bad” meal.  Sometimes, you just have to set your principles aside.

I’m making vegetable and barley soup for lunch for next week (I’m a soup addict).  I think I’ll be more excited to eat it than I was the mushroom.  At least, I hope.

March 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm 1 comment

Miracles Do Happen

You may recall a post from December wherein I discussed my family’s eating habits and mentioned: “We don’t eat beans.  Period.  Dad thinks we’re nuts for including cannoli and garbanzo beans [in a soup my Man and I made].”  Well, after all my whiny posts and my decision to cook what I wanted to eat for lunch irregardless of what my parents thought, I made something with beans in it that my dad actually liked.

A lot of my interest in cooking different, good, healthy food stems from time I’ve spent with my Man and his parents.  One of the first times I visited with them, his mother made this delicious soup.  It was the first of many recipes she’s given me.  After a quick internet search, it appears the recipe is from Cooking Light, though it tastes anything but light.

“Carol’s” Tarascan Soup

You’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oilingredients
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, undrained
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (16-ounce) can chicken broth (can substitute fat-free, less sodium)
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 cup; can substitute reduced fat)
  • Tortilla chips, crushed (about 1 cup)

1.  Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions and garlic, cook for 3 minutes.*  Add canned tomatoes with their liquid, stir, cook 5 minutes.

2. Put beans and their liquid into a food processor (or blender) and process until smooth.

soup3. Add the beans, chili powder, cumin, hot sauce, salt and broth to the pan.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 18 more minutes, uncovered.

4. Serve with shredded cheese and crushed chips.  Serves about 8.


*My apologies to anyone who doesn’t like onions and garlic as much as I do and is weary of the fact that the majority of my recipes appear to start with a step identical to this one.

February 1, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Sunday’s Dinner: Potato, Spinach and Artichoke Soup

Potato, Spinach and Artichoke Soup from the February 2008 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray.


It tastes better than it looks, I promise...

Substitutions: Surprisingly, I only made one ingredient substitution for this recipe!  My silly supermarket didn’t have any frozen artichokes (but had more kinds of frozen broccoli than anyone could ever need), so I bought a can of un-marinated, “ready to serve” ones.  As far as I can tell, they worked just fine.

Recipe comments: I made a pretty big mess of the kitchen with this one.  Honestly, that’s par for the course, but this one seemed especially bad.  I neglected to thaw the frozen spinach, so I spent a while thawing it in the microwave, which somehow resulted in a lot of it getting all over the kitchen.  Furthermore, even though this recipe was found in the 30 Minute Meals section of the magazine, it took me over an hour to prepare.  I don’t know why.  Either Rachael’s crazy or I’m slow.  Maybe both.

Reaction: I liked this soup a lot, though I’ll amend that by adding that I love soup, especially when spinach and potatoes are involved.  At any rate, it was pretty light and tasted great.  Even my dad, who I’d been harassing for days about the fact that artichokes were included (“eww…”) had two bowls.

Also, I just need to share this photo of the bread I made, from a Pillsbury can:


I have no idea why it came out that way…I just popped the can and put it in the oven, as per the directions.  It tasted fine and added some humor to the meal.

January 19, 2009 at 10:49 pm

A Vacation in Food

Being on break from school, having no obligations and having my Man here to encourage me, this week was an excellent exercise in finally getting off the couch and into the kitchen.

vegetable soup

On Monday, we made a vegetable soup modified from this recipe from Food Network.    I thought the vegetables sounded a little thin so we added carrots.  When served, it greatly benefited (as almost everything does) from some grated Parmesan cheese (aka “shaky cheese”).   Soup was a great place to restart my interest in cooking; even I can make soup.  It’s versatile, its easy, its quick.  I really no longer have a reason to complain about what I bring to school for lunch.

And it’s so much better than soup from a can.

guacamoleSufficiently bitten by the “cooking” bug, my Man and I went on to make guacamole today.  Avocados are another ingredient which is never considered in my house.  Even though I’m pretty such December isn’t prime time for them we managed to find a decently ripe set and worked off this recipe from the California Avocado Commission (!).  First of all, the site is genius because it calculates ingredient amounts based on the number of servings desired for you!  All recipe sites should do that.  Secondly, we left out the cumin and the hot sauce and it’s quite tasty.

Fresh food makes me happy.

December 31, 2008 at 6:27 pm

Where I Come From

I’ve been ranting about food, mostly to my Man, quite frequently during the past few months.  First, I decided to eat less meat and become “flexitarian” (that is,  a semi-vegetarian diet involving the practice of eating mainly vegetarian food, but making occasional exceptions for social, pragmatic, cultural, or nutritional reasons–thanks Wikipedia!)  Some of my  (vegan/vegetarian) students pointed out that the way in which meat is derived for consumption in the US is really bad for the environment and contributes to global warming, nevermind the fact that daily consumption of meat isn’t necessary for a healthy diet.  More on that at GoVeg and ABC News.  There’s plenty of really great non-meat food out there, so I figured it was worth a try.

Meanwhile, not much has changed except that I frequently feel guilty that I haven’t changed any of my habits.  But I live with my parents and my motivation to actually cook has been minimal  until very recently.  My Man and I made a very tasty soup today with chicken stock (like I said…flexitarian…), fresh and frozen vegetables, egg noodles and two kinds of beans.  It was quite tasty, although I’d still like to add one more ingredient with some punch.  Sucessfully cooking something leaves me feeling so accomplished.   It’s also the perfect opportunity to shed some light on “where I’m coming from”.  My family is very ‘meat and potatoes’ oriented, which is fine I guess.  Often we have meals that don’t even have a vegetable.  We don’t eat beans.  Period.  Dad thinks we’re nuts for including cannoli and garbanzo beans.  Maybe we are :)  But its a frustrating conversation anyway.

So was the one about what kind of pizza to get.  I like pepperoni and sausage and the like.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like meat.  I just like to eat other things sometimes, I especially like vegetable pizza.  Again, I am clearly crazy.

My Man promises when we get married in June he will join me in my cooking ventures and I think we’re both very much looking forward to it (and being married in general).  Tonight’s contribution to the pizza discussion: “I want something meaty”.

Thanks, dear.

December 29, 2008 at 6:30 pm 1 comment

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