Sunday, September 22, 2013


Today we enjoyed the most beautiful first day of Fall I can remember in a long time.  Beautiful blue skies, crisp temperatures and all the plants and trees looking like they have passed their summer peak.  There are even a few hints of changing leaves here and there. Olivia and I were discussing this weekend around a cozy campfire how this change in weather makes us want to cook nourishing soups and stews that take the edge off the cold temperatures.

This soup is a beautiful creation Olivia came up with recently.  It combines the rich salty taste of pancetta with tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock, spices, and more.  It is not only a pretty soup but one that marries a wide variety of flavors and textures.  Pair it with a piece of crusty bread and you will have a satisfying fall meal.

Italian Soup

Created by:  Olivia Coons
Servings:  6-8 total or 3-4 each use

3 oz. pancetta, sliced
½ of an 8.5 oz. jar of julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes in a jar, drained
2 leeks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. celery seed
4 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of water
black pepper to taste
1/8 tsp. salt
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
19 oz. package of cheese tortellini, divided in half
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

1)   In a stockpot over medium heat, saut√© the pancetta until it begins to crisp, stirring frequently.
2)   As the pancetta cooks, prepare the leeks.  Cut the greens off of the leeks just above where the white begins to turn green.  Discard the tops.  Slice the leeks length wise in half.  Chop each half of the leek into ¼ inch half moon shapes.  Transfer the leeks to a colander and separate the rings as you wash the leeks.  Leeks tend to have a lot of dirt built up between the layers, so cleaning them in this manor will help remove the dirt.
3)   After the pancetta is crisp, remove the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towel to dry.  Add the leaks to the pan with the pancetta drippings, and turn the heat a bit past medium. 
4)   Stir in the garlic, julienned sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, thyme, celery seed, salt, pepper, and optional red pepper flakes.  Cook until the leeks begin to soften.
5)   Add the water, chicken broth, peas, and pancetta to the pot and stir.
6)   Remove about half of the soup to a glass or plastic container and freeze for a later time.
7)   Bring the remainder of the soup in the pot to a boil.  Add half of the frozen tortellini to the boiling soup and cook according to package directions, about two minutes until the tortellini begin to float.  Return the other half of the tortellini to the freezer for later use.
8)   Spoon soup into bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

***To prepare frozen soup, thaw the soup completely overnight in the refrigerator.   Bring the soup to a boil in a stockpot, and add the remainder of the frozen tortellini to the soup, cooking as stated in above restaurant.

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