Don’t you love it when you open your fridge, scan the shelves for a dinner idea, and two items catch your eye. Two items that serendipitously are nestled side by side on the second shelf down. Then, upon spotting said ingredients, your mind snaps into remembrance of a delicious recipe that you haven’t made in quite a while. It seems like destiny. Destiny with a touch of desperation thrown in for good measure.
I wish I could say that I was one of those people. The ones who organize their weekly menu by Friday, shop on Saturday, and rest comfortably on Sunday with the realization that you have a whole week of not racking your brain for dinner ideas. The ones who also manage to remember to defrost the meat in time, and then actually remember to use the defrosted meat!
I guess that’s where planning/shopping would come in handy, because if there’s one question that strikes fear into my heart, it’s ‘Where’d the money go?’ ‘What’s for dinner?’. Especially when you multiply the question 6X leaving out myself, (the million times I ask myself don’t count), Chef, (he learned better long ago), and the youngest, (whose vocabulary technically doesn’t extend to that kind of sentence structure. Yet.)
I am a walking oxymoron.
A person who loves to cook. Who, in fact, cooks ALLTHETIME!! But somehow never knows what to have for dinner. So can you see why I was so happy when destiny, some Italian Sausage, and a package of cheese tortellini showed me the way?
I thought so.
Italian Sausage and Cheese Tortellini Soup
1 pound Italian-style sausage
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 heaping tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
4 cans (15oz.) low sodium chicken broth, depending on how thick/soupy you like
1 can (15oz.) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
30 oz. crushed or diced tomatoes (I use bottled, but you could use whatever canned brand is closest to the correct amount)
In a large, heavy, pre-heated pan, put the Italian sausage. Use a spoon to break the sausage into about 1/2 inch chunks. Try not to break them down further, as the larger bits are nice in this soup. Also, try to only let the bottom of the pan brown, not burn. It will impart a bitter taste to your soup.
Cook the sausage until no longer pink. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
In the large pot with the fond, (aka the brown bits left behind when you cooked the meat), add the onions and let cook on medium heat about 3–5 minutes, still taking care not to brown what’s in the bottom of the pan too much. When onions are slightly soft, add the garlic and let cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes.
Next add the 1/2 cup red wine if using. If not using, add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock. Let liquid cook down by half, stirring and loosening up the fond from the bottom of the pan.
Add the chicken broth, carrots, and the tomatoes. Let cook on medium at a slow boil for about 10 minutes, or until carrots are just starting to soften.
Add the seasonings, salt and pepper, and sugar, and add back the sausage.
At this point you can either let it cool down and store it in the fridge until just before you want to serve, or, turn up the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
Add the tortellini and cook according to the time on the package directions, maybe minus a minute to keep it al-dente. Add kidney beans and let warm through.
Garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese and serve with crusty bread.
**Feeling naughty? Add a cup of heavy cream along with the kidney beans. So good!**