Grow Your Own Way · kid-friendly · Recipes

Tomato Tortellini Soup

New weeknight staple alert! This is a 20-minute meal that tastes like scratch (and mostly is), and provides delicious, warm little lunches. That is, assuming you even have leftovers. It really is that scrumptious.

We had parents night at Georgia’s school recently, and we got home that day with less than an hour to spare before we had to turn around and head back out the door. Patting myself on the back for buying fresh tortellini a few days earlier, I quickly realized I had the makings of a fast, filling dinner that would also serve the dual purpose of helping us move through our tomato stash. Which, if you’ve been following my Instagram since late August, is significant.

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Even with the cooler temperatures slowing down the ripening in our garden, I’ve put up 68 ounces (!!!) of tomato sauce, and made countless batches of creamy tomato soup for freezing and eating since September. I probably gave out 100 tomatoes to co-workers, too, and am now moving on to bringing in the green ones for folks who have good recipes for things like relish, fritters and stew. And all that came from just two plants!

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I did tons of caprese salad and homemade pizza during the weeks of late summer and early Autumn, but eventually that gets repetitive, and in the fall soup just starts to feel right. Georgia has never been a big fan of the texture of soup or stews, but I figured if anything could change her mind, it would be something chunky, creamy, and filled with cheesy pasta. And I was right.

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Inspiration for this recipe came from The Kitchn, but I made my own modifications and tweaks because I like more tomato chunks and a little less heft than heavy cream.

Tomato Tortellini Soup

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 TBSP butter + a swirl of olive oil for the pot
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed or minced
  • salt and pepper to taste (don’t be shy)
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 cans (4 cups/32 ounces) chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package (about 14 ounces) cheese tortellini
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
  • grated parmesan cheese, to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil together over medium until warm, then add the onion. Cook until soft, then add the garlic, making sure it doesn’t burn. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the vinegar, then add the crushed tomatoes (with the liquid in the can) and the broth, cream and bay leaves to the pot. Add in some chunks of fresh tomato. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the tortellini and cook for about 3 minutes (5 minutes if using frozen). Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaves, and stir in the basil. Serve topped with fresh grated Parmesan. Enjoy warm!

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Notes

You can use either fresh or frozen tortellini; just adjust the cooking time up a bit for frozen to give them time to thaw by cooking in the sauce.

Subbing vegetable stock is fine; I like the taste of chicken stock better. You can also use another type of shredded cheese on top, such as pecorino.

Feel free to put that heavy cream back in there if you want it extra rich!

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For me, this kept in the fridge just fine for 5 days. I also froze two small containers of it for later. To reheat, either warm over low/medium on the stovetop or microwave for about one minute, covered.

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I hope you are having a wonderful fall getting ready for Halloween, Thanksgiving and (gulp) Christmas. I am actually already starting to shop for the holidays! Starting early is the only way I can stay on budget. We just took our annual family photos with our favorite photographer — here’s a sneak peek of one image so far 🙂 I can’t wait to get the full package so I can start designing my photo album gifts and Christmas cards.

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Recipes

Creamy Pesto Linguine tossed with Crispy Balsamic Chickpeas

Hello! Easy healthy recipe for your New Year’s resolution to eat better and cook more. I made this on a night Mark was working and I could eat whatever I wanted, which usually results in Indian food, something with mushrooms, or something spicy. Or soup, because the man just does not consider soup a meal, even if it’s hearty and homemade. Well, except for this one.

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Pesto Linguine with Crispy Balsamic Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained and patted dry
  • 1 pound linguine (can be gluten-free, brown rice, etc. if desired)
  • About 1/2 cup prepared (or jarred) pesto, quantity to your preference
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • olive oil, about 2 TBSP
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese, shaved or grated, for the top
  • optional: a dash of light cream to make more decadent

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DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400F and set a large pot of water to boil. If you are making pesto fresh, be sure to do this ahead of time and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven (you know the kind I like), heat olive oil over medium. Any large pan is fine, as long as it’s oven-proof.

Add beans and garlic and cook, adding salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to make sure beans get coated well with seasonings.

Transfer to the oven and bake until beans are browned and crispy, roughly 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once water boils, cook the pasta until al dente. Once fully cooked, about 10 minutes, drain and return to the pot, off the heat. Toss with preferred amount of pesto until coated.

Remove chickpeas from oven and pour in balsamic; stir until chickpeas are well coated and the vinegar has thickened slightly.

Optional: add dash of light cream to the linguine for a creamier sauce.

Serve one of two ways — combine the balsamic chickpeas with linguine and toss, or plate the pasta and top with the chickpeas. Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the top and enjoy!

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I got three lunches out of this, and it was very tasty reheated. I just love the crunch of the chickpeas against the sweet-tangy balsamic sauce, and the satisfyingly filling pasta! It makes me feel like I’m indulging more than I am, and if you omit the light cream, it’s even healthier. Sometimes it’s good to have a more luxurious version of your everyday recipes in your back pocket, so I like to test recipes both ways. In fact, Mark helped me do just that for our go-to spaghetti carbonara, and I’ll be blogging about version 2.0 of that recipe soon.

I really hope you enjoy this. You might also like this Mulitgrain Spaghetti with Spinach and Chickpeas, or my Harvest Vegetable Pasta. It’s been a while since I made both of those, so I think it’s time to add them back into the rotation! I hope you have a nice long weekend. Stay warm:)

This recipe was inspired by TheLiveInKitchen.

Recipes

Skillet Gnocchi with Sausage and Tomatoes

Hi everyone! What a whirlwind couple of weeks. I was off for half of last week planning the Georgia Peach party — photos coming soon! — and having fun in Boston with visiting family. Now, Georgia has had the stomach flu for two days straight, and Mark and I have been alternating staying home with her…and next week we will be flying to Myrtle Beach for vacation with Gramps and Nan! So here’s a quick and easy recipe I tried and loved recently. It’s perfect for using up all those late summer tomatoes and extra basil from the garden. Enjoy!

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This recipe inspiration comes via thekitchn.com.

Skillet Gnocchi with Sausage & Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. gnocchi
  • 1 package chicken sausage, any flavor, sliced into coins
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • a handful or two of fresh basil, julienned
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

First, heat a medium size pot of water to boiling and cook the gnocchi for two or three minutes, then drain; toss with olive oil in a room-temp bowl and set aside.

In a large cast-iron skillet (or dutch oven, like my Le Creuset), heat a light drizzle of olive oil over medium. Add the sausage and cook over for a few minutes or until they start to brown. Push the sausage to the side in the skillet and turn the heat up to high.

With the skillet very hot, add the tomatoes face down, cramming if you have to. Cook for a couple of minutes or until they are blistered.

Stir in the sausage. Cook for a few more minutes or until the sausage and tomatoes are both browned. Finally, add in the gnocchi and stir until just combined but before the tomatoes have broken down.

Remove from the skillet and stir in the basil strips. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

TIPS

  • You can use a non-stick or other type of skillet, but you won’t achieve the same browning effect as cast iron.
  • You can use any type of sausage you like, including spicier varieties or even imitation sausage links to make this vegetarian-friendly. Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s carry great options for meat-free “sausage” links.
  • I love making this as colorful as possible by grabbing orange and yellow tomatoes, if you can find them.
  • Don’t let the tomatoes cook too long or you’ll very quickly find that you have a sauce instead! You want to take them off the heat just before this happens.
  • Be careful not to heat the cast iron skillet too high at the outset. The cardinal rule of cast iron is that it heats up VERY fast, and is very difficult to cool down from there. ‘Medium’ on cast iron is probably going to feel like ‘high heat’ on nonstick.
  • I wouldn’t personally add cheese to this, but you can if you want!
  • Heats up well as leftovers, and tastes great with Pinot Grigio on a hot night 🙂

PSST — speaking of pasta, tomatoes and basil! — a new book I’m excited about just got released for pre-order. I already love Chloe’s Kitchen, so why wouldn’t I race to grab Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen? She’s the inspiration for my creamy Vegan Pesto, Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip, and more. Even if you aren’t vegan, her recipes are always simple and fun, and great for adapting your favorite guilty recipes to be lower calorie as well as safe for friends with lactose intolerance.

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Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Recipes

Shortcut Chili

Talk about easy! This is like “cheater chili” because it has so few ingredients and doesn’t have to cook for very long. You can use real beef or vegetarian meat crumbles. (I like MorningStar Farms vegetarian meat substitute).

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Shortcut Chili

INGREDIENTS

  • 1lb (approx.) lean ground beef or vegetarian crumbles
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 16-oz fresh salsa (from the refrigerated section of the store)
  • 1 15-oz can kidney beans

DIRECTIONS

Brown the ground beef or vegetarian crumbles with 2 teaspoons of chili powder in a saucepan (I used my favorite, the Le Creuset dutch oven).

Stir in the 16-oz container of salsa (mild or medium; I chose mild) and the kidney beans with their liquid. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.

Optional: mash some of the beans with a spatula to thicken the chili. Season with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream or Greek yogurt and shredded cheese.

Thanks to Peg for the recipe!

Recipes

Apple Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

This is a great one-dish comfort meal. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve started occasionally eating meat again. This recipe satisfied both Mark and I, and is a very filling option for chilly fall nights. Make it in a big casserole dish and go oven to table with it!

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This recipe comes courtesy of the Boston Globe.
I mentioned it in my fall flavors post a few weeks ago and finally got around to trying it. I used turkey kielbasa to be a little bit healthier, a mix of Cortland and Mackintosh apples because they were in season in New England when I made this, and packaged mashed potatoes from Ikea, which saved time and was super delicious.

Apple Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

Served over mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 package turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored & sliced
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 TBSP grainy or French mustard, like Dijon or spicy brown
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for sauteing the onions

20131024-043654.jpgDirections

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your sliced ingredients.

In a flameproof casserole dish, such as this Le Creuset french oven I used, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and one apple. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until the onion starts to brown.

(Note: if using a cast iron pan such as Le Creuset, it is VERY important to start the heat on the low end. This type of cookware heats up very efficiently and you can’t cool the dish once it has gotten too hot.)

Stir in the sauerkraut, wine, mustard, salt and pepper. Place the sausage slices on top.

Bring to a boil then transfer to the oven (uncovered) and roast for 45 minutes, or until the sausages are pretty well browned.

If you are making the prepared mashed potatoes, place them in the oven a few minutes before the casserole dish as they require slightly longer to cook.

Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the remaining apple chunks.

Serve over the mashed potatoes with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer!

20131024-043633.jpgBy stirring in one apple before you roast the dish and another one right before serving, you create a sweet sauce that also has a touch of tartness. Otherwise, all the apples would turn to mush!

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To plate, spread a layer of the mashed potatoes on each dish and top with the kielbasa. You can obviously make mashed potatoes from scratch if you have more time than I did, and you could also serve over egg noodles or rice if that’s more your style.

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A little bit goes a long way. Yum!

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In other news, Georgia had her first Halloween a couple weeks ago! We went trick-or-treating with friends whose son was a bit more age appropriate for appreciating the holiday. Baby G’s age didn’t stop us from dressing her up, even if it meant Daddy had to carry her around in his arms all night. (We kept it to less than 10 houses and she still fell asleep).

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By the way, I feel like I owe a huge THANK YOU to everyone who reads this blog and has stuck by me through a challenging postpartum period (is there any other kind?) Even though I’ve only managed to post every other week (at best) since having Georgia, my readers have hung around, and the blog has had high traffic and plenty of new comments and visitors. In fact, I’ve recently started to get as many as 500 visitors a day, which is so much more than I ever thought would happen when I started OrganicGlory and hoped that anyone beside my mom would read it. My dream is to keep writing, trying new recipes, and sharing my life with you, and I’m honored that people I’ve never met have taken the time to visit my site and share it with others. That so many have stayed and shared some of themselves in return is truly amazing.

#blessed

Recipes

Soy Chorizo Chili

I got this recipe from Food to Run For. It sounded easy and hearty for a cold winter day, and what better opportunity for comfort food than Blizzard 2013! Plus, it gave me a chance to break out my new, red Le Creuset, which Mark got me for Christmas. Ogle the beauty:

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You only need a few simple ingredients — sweet potatoes, red onion, black beans, chorizo, broth and salsa — and then it simmers on your stovetop for an hour or more, filling the house with yummy smells. And it’s versatile, so if you don’t care about keeping it vegetarian, you can swap the meat and the broth to suit your taste.

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Soy Chorizo Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of chopped sweet potato
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 Package of Soy Chorizo from Trader Joe’s, removed from the casing
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky salsa, mild or medium
  • 1 14-oz. can black beans
  • 1 cup veggie broth
  • Water, if needed to thin out the chili
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

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Directions

In a large stock pot, simmer all the ingredients except the water, broth and seasonings for at least one hour. After an hour, taste for salt and pepper and add broth. Turn up the heat with medium salsa instead of mild, or a splash of hot sauce; or keep it mild like we do. And, if you don’t care about it being vegetarian, you can add in spicy sausage or even use chicken broth instead of veggie.

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One important note about using a Le Creuset: you must coat the bottom of the pot with a fat, whether butter, olive oil, or a combination of the two like I used here. I sauteed the chopped red onion for a few minutes while I prepped the sweet potato. I found that two cups of sweet potato amounted to just about what you’d yield from chopping one large sweet potato (peeled, of course).

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If you buy the soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s, which I highly recommend, you have to remove the casing before using it. It ends up having a crumbly texture that’s perfect for chili.

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A little bit messy, but so worth it!

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Another important note about cooking with Cast Iron: you really, really can’t start cooking over high and then turn down the heat like you do with normal cookware to get the pan hot, as cast iron retains heat extraordinarily well and it’ll ruin your food if you do that. Start over LOW and then turn up a tiny bit if you need it. These cook so evenly and efficiently, it takes getting used to.

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I added in the broth bit by bit, so I could see how it was absorbing before adding too much. If you prefer it more liquid-y than I do, you can add all the broth and even some water too.

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I also covered mine for a bit to help the liquid absorb. You can leave it uncovered for sure.

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It’s done whenever the sweet potato chunks are nice and tender but not falling apart!

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Serve it plain or topped with sour cream or Greek yogurt. Delicious.

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I like this recipe even better than the Real Simple Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili I made last Valentine’s Day (what was I thinking, making chili for Valentine’s Day??) You can tell I’m not a newlywed I guess. We also went to the Bruins game and drank 6 beers and two plates of nachos between us instead of hitting a nice dinner, so you can see where our priorities lie.

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I realized after making this that the soy chorizo might be the perfect taco filling that I’ve been searching for since becoming vegetarian. You wouldn’t even need to season it; it has that taco seasoning flavor going for it already, with just a touch of heat.

The heat in this mellows a bit if you reheat the next day, making it the perfect candidate for leftovers. I served it topped with sour cream for Mark, and plain Greek yogurt for me. That was a delicious substitution which I highly recommend!

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Enjoy this flavorful, filling dish to take the bite out of winter.