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 ūüôā 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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Blue Apron · Recipes

Sirloin Steak with Smashed Purple Potatoes & Green Beans

As you all know, I am barely a meat-eater, never mind a steak eater. But in the interest of broadening my child’s palate, and in treating my poor Irish husband to more of the meat n’ potatoes fare he grew up with, I have branched out into cooking sirloin … for the first time ever. And I dare say it came out really good.

Thanks to my Blue Apron membership, I had a recipe that I knew would turn out really well, and I loved the idea of pairing a good-quality organic meat with something offbeat, like Purple Potatoes and this tangy Green Bean side dish zipping with the flavors of garlic, tomato and scallion.

Sirloin is a cut from the back of the animal. It is a bit less tender than top sirloin, but not at all tough if you cook it for the exact amount of time called for. Seriously, if I can’t screw this up, then truly nobody can.

Sirloin Steaks with Purple Potatoes & Green Beans

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 sirloin steaks, best quality you can find
  • 10 oz. purple (sometimes also called ‘blue’) potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 oz. green beans
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of tarragon
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • olive oil for the pan
  • salt and pepper to taste for seasoning

DIRECTIONS

To start, wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high and large-dice the potatoes. Peel and slice the garlic thin. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice the scallions, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Trim off and discard the stem ends of the green beans. Halve the tomatoes. Pick the tarragon leaves off the stems (discarding them).

Add the potatoes to the pot of boiling water. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Off the heat, add half the butter. Using a fork, mash the cooked potatoes to your desired consistency. Stir in the white bottoms of the scallions; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside in a warm place.

While the potatoes cook, pat the steaks dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned steaks and cook 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a cutting board, leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan. Let the cooked steaks rest for at least 5 minutes.

While the steaks rest, heat the pan of reserved fond on medium-high until hot. (If the pan seems dry, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.) Add the green beans; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened slightly.

Add the vinegar and ‚Öď cup of water to the pan of vegetables; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by ¬ĺ and the green beans have softened. Add the tarragon and the¬†remaining butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the meat against the grain and add any juices left on the cutting board to the vegetables, then stir to combine. Divide the sliced steaks, mashed potatoes and finished vegetables between two plates, garnish with the green tops of the scallions, and enjoy!

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Options: If you really prefer much creamier potatoes, you can add milk, sour cream or creme fraiche to these, but I prefer them without. You could also decrease the amount of garlic and/or scallions if they’re too strong for you. And, it’s possible to substitute other types of vinegar (such as cider) if you don’t have red wine on hand.

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Buon Appetito!

And enjoy the last truly warm week we are going to get. I know I am. 


Recipes

Trader Joe’s Tag: Tortellini Roasted Red Pepper Soup

The pictures for this came out terrible, but it’s a hearty soup that comes together really quickly. We picked up all the ingredients at Trader Joe’s but you could easily make this from any store with comparable products! This isn’t soup from scratch, but it is fast, creamy and satisfying, and uses up leftover prepared pesto that you may have made yourself or bought for another recipe. Plus, it’s vegetarian and filling without being bad for you.

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Tortellini Roasted Red Pepper Soup

INGREDIENTS (all Trader Joe’s)

  • 1 bag dried tortellini, with cheese filling (pesto filling is also OK)
  • 1 carton¬†creamy Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup
  • 1 package frozen Melange a Trois (tri-color bell peppers)
  • 1/2 jar pesto (adjust amount to taste)
  • optional: grated cheese for topping

DIRECTIONS

Set a medium pot of water to boil. Boil the tortellini until they are just cooked (usually when they float to the top). Set aside.

In another large pot — I used a cast iron Le Creuset dutch oven — heat the entire package of soup over medium until simmering. Add in the whole¬†package of frozen bell peppers and pesto, then stir in the tortellini. Once it’s all heated, it’s ready to serve!

Top with grated parmesan or pecorino and enjoy warm.

(This makes a thick soup; if you’d rather it be a bit thinner, use half to 2/3 bag of cooked tortellini instead).

The great thing about this recipe is that you can adjust it however you like. Don’t want to use frozen bell peppers? Go for frozen peas, or string beans. I threw in half a can of corn that was lying around from my Shepherd’s Pie a few days before! Love pesto? Add the whole darn jar. Not a fan? Scale it back or omit entirely. You can use any brand of creamy tomato soup, but I really like how the roasted red pepper element adds flavor here. It’s relatively healthy and will also leave you with a few tasty lunches for the week. Plus, even though I love that it’s vegetarian, you can always change that by throwing in some chicken sausage, kielbasa, ground beef or leftover rotisserie chicken. The possibilities are endless.

Dig in and enjoy!

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Recipes

Spinach n’ Artichoke Pizza

As you may have noticed, I love the combination of spinach & artichokes. Preferably with cheese. So, it was just a matter of time before I threw it on a pizza…with cheese.

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Spinach ‘n Artichoke Pizza

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pizza round, or 1 fresh ball of dough*
  • 1 package fresh mozzarella
  • 1 can artichokes, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1 bag fresh spinach
  • 1 large tomato, chopped into chunks
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • parmesan, grated (to taste)
  • tomato sauce (optional)

*You can get fresh dough at Trader Joe’s or from your local pizza parlor.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven per the package instructions for the pizza dough (or roughly 375 if using fresh dough).

Meanwhile, chop your mozzarella, grate your parmesan, cut up the tomato and onion, and push the garlic through a press and set all aside.

In a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat, warm a little bit of olive oil. Toss in the onion, drained & chopped artichokes and spinach until the spinach wilts, adding garlic halfway through cooking so it doesn’t burn. Season with a dash of salt and pepper if desired. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble the pizza on a stone, paddle or non-stick pan like this. Starting with the sauce on bottom, followed by the spinach mixture and then the tomato chunks, assemble the pizza so ingredients are evenly distributed, ending with the mozzarella and grated parmesan on top.

Bake according to the pizza pie instructions, or about 20 minutes/until bubbling and crispy but not browned or burned.

Remove from oven, let cool, and slice (I always use kitchen shears). Serve hot!

Note: I always make two pies back-to-back, since I’m already chopping all the vegetables and cheese, and since the pizza rounds come in a double pack. I like the low-fat ultra-thin crust from Archer Farms at Target. It comes in square or round, which is nice depending on what kind of pan you have! I just assemble mine on the counter while the first pizza is in the oven, and then pop the second one in as soon as the pan has cooled off. If you buy one mozzarella ball, a large tomato and a bigger container of spinach, then you should have enough to make double.

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Baby & Toddler · Recipes

Labor-inducing pizza

In honor of my sister-in-law and cousin, who both had babies this week (hi little Keon and Cedric!), I’m re-posting the homemade pizza recipe that I just had to make the night before I ended up having Georgia, prompting one of my good friends to dub this dish “labor-inducing pizza.”¬†

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Here’s the original recipe from 2012, which I’ll repost below. Little did I know when I made up this pie that it would become “the pizza that brings on labor.” If you’re past your due date and getting desperate … could it hurt?

Labor-Inducing Pizza (aka, my Pizza Rustica)

INGREDIENTS

  • One pre-made round pizza crust (I used Archer Farms ultra thin & crispy pie, from Target. You could try any brand you like.)
  • 1 large tomato or 2-3 plum/roma tomatoes, sliced
  • a handful of basil leaves, torn by hand
  • 1/2 ball of fresh mozzarella, broken into chunks by hand
  • 1 cup of pre-shredded parmesan/mozzarella mix (again I used Target)
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • non-stick spray for the pan (or use olive oil)

DIRECTIONS

Start by spraying your pizza pan with non-stick spray or olive oil. Preheat oven to 400.

In a non-stick saute pan, stir-fry the sliced red pepper and onion until translucent and browned, about 10 minutes. While this is cooking on the stove top, assemble the rest of the pie.

Place pizza crust on the non-stick pizza pan and dot with olive oil; spread around evenly to coat crust.

Place tomato slices evenly around crust, then top with torn basil.

Add the fresh mozzarella on top of the basil, breaking off chunks by hand.

When the pepper and onion are done, distribute onto the pizza; top with shredded mozzarella/parmesan.

Cook for 10 minutes at 400 or until browned. Serve with spinach salad and enjoy!

Beware: if you DO go into labor after eating this, as I did, be forewarned that there’s just enough of a kick to, ahem, hurt your throat coming back up. And if you’ve never had a baby and are just now learning that labor makes you puke…well, I’m sorry. But it’s better someone told you.

Did you like this recipe? Check out my other easy, homemade pizza recipes here and here. And, a new way to work with pizza dough. Looking for a good pizza tray to use in the oven? I like this inexpensive, non-stick version that cleans up easily and won’t scratch when you slice your pie.

Grow Your Own Way · Recipes

Garden Tomato Porn

This is all. Just…exist among their beauty.

Oh, you wanted a recipe? I suppose I can accommodate.

Quick Spicy Tomato Sauce

Courtesy of Wishful Chef

This one is so great because it’s fast, simple, and can make use of either fresh or canned tomatoes, making it very verstile for summer or winter. Plus, the sauce goes great in a multitude of dishes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • a splash of cream or half & half

DIRECTIONS

In a pot, combine olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt. Turn the heat on to medium-high and stir ingredients until oil bubbles and garlic turns sweet and becomes slightly browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes and sugar and simmer for about 3 minutes. Turn heat off and stir in butter and cream. Taste the sauce and add more salt, pepper if needed. Total time: 10 minutes. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

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I can’t end the post without shouting out my husband Mark, who actually grew these monsters. I had no part in it whatsoever, not even watering. (Unless you count my grumbling during those late-night “re-staking emergencies” after another heavily-laden stalk had tumbled sideways or otherwise faced certain death had we not intervened). For a novice gardener, he really turned it out this year!