Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sausage & Tortellini Soup

This is another great recipe from The Kitchn.  The flavors together are delicious and it makes a very hearty winter soup.  I doubled the canned tomatoes and liquid from the original recipe and I think that was a good call.  If you use real parmesan cheese in your house, save the rinds in a freezer bag for recipes like these- you throw the rind into the simmering soup to add some flavor.  This recipe calls for Italian Sausage, which is an American invention- if you can't get Italian sausage, use plain ground pork (not breakfast sausage) and add "Italian seasoning" (also not really Italian)- dried oregano, basil, fennel, etc.
Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup
Serves 4 for dinner plus leftovers

olive oil
1 pound bulk hot or mild Italian sausage
1 small yellow or white onion, chopped
2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine (or substitute chicken stock)
1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1 14.5 oz (about) petite diced tomatoes
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Parmesan rind (or a small hunk of cheese), optional
1 (9- or 12-ounce package, or 250 grams) fresh tortellini
2 cups roughly chopped spinach
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
Shaved Parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

1.  Drizzle a tablespoon or two of oil into a large Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add the Italian sausage (do not break it up yet) and sear until golden-brown on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and sear the other side, another 2 to 3 minutes. Once the sausage is lightly browned on both sides, start breaking it up with wooden spoon. (The goal is to get some delicious caramelization in the bottom of the pan as opposed to just steaming the ground meat in its own liquids.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the fat in the pot.

2.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions.  Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 15 to 20 seconds, just until you start to smell its aroma. Add the red wine and increase the temperature to high. Allow the liquid to cook out at a very hard boil, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to release any delicious brown bits as it bubbles.

3.  Add the canned tomatoes and juices to the pot. Then use kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Add the chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, Parmesan rind, and cooked sausage. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the tortellini. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tortellini is warmed through, about 10 to 15 minutes.

4.  Add the spinach to the pot and stir until wilted. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt if necessary. (Remove Parmesan rind if used.) Serve with a drizzle of good olive oil and a dusting of shaved Parmesan.
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