I would be hard-pressed to find a recipe any easier than this one.
As easy as it is, it delivers a wonderfully creamy rich soup so packed with cheese tortellini and fresh spinach and carrots, I’d be tempted to call it a stew. The secret to its success is that it’s all store-bought. You could of course make the tortellini and the vegetable stock but I didn’t. Mine came straight from the kitchens of Trader Joe’s. I tweaked this recipe from a blog called Diethood written by Katarina Petrovska. Ms. Petrovska is not Italian. And neither is this recipe. The carrots, the spinach, the cream! With Tortellini? The Dotta Confraternita del Tortellino , the Scholarly Fellowship of the Tortellino, headquartered in Bologna, would surely balk at this dish.
Purists believe that Tortellini in a capon beef broth is the only way to serve Tortellini.
The Fellowship warns that industrial creams “mortify tortellini under a white blanket, causing them to lose the exaltation that only pure broth can bestow to the filling.” However, Tortellini with cream sauce has its own history. In Emilia Romagna, where they were invented, the cheese-making families historically paid their workers partially in dairy: Butter, Cheese, Ricotta, and cream. The cream was particularly precious. It was skimmed from freshly heated milk. Tortellini are “irreplaceable at Christmas lunch”, according to my Italian ‘sister’ Sofia. The idea of coating this classic holiday dish with a layer of precious cream likely came from those homes.
The legend of Tortellini is a tale worth repeating
There was a tug of war between Bologna and neighboring Modena over where tortellini were invented. A compromise was reached. The town of Castelfranco Emilia, located between the two, was given the honor. Featured in one legend was Venus of Half shell fame. She stays at a local inn. Overcome by her beauty, the innkeeper spies on her through a keyhole. All he can see is her navel. He is inspired to create pasta in its shape. This legend explains the term “ombelico di Venere” (Venus’s navel) which is sometimes used to describe tortellini. To this day, there is an annual festival in Castelfranco Emilia in honor of this legend. Now here’s our recipe and after it three more ways to cook Tortellini.
Creamy Tortellini Soup
A wonderfully creamy rich soup so packed with cheese tortellini, carrots, and fresh spinach I’d be tempted to call it a stew
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon dried Oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/4- cup all-purpose flour
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 package (10-ounces) fresh or frozen tortellini
- 1 bag (5-ounces) fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup cream
- Step 1 Melt butter in a large saucepan or soup pot.
- Step 2 Add onion, garlic, carrots, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat for 6 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
- Step 3 Whisk in flour. Whisk until crumbly.
- Step 4 Slowly add broth and continue to vigorously whisk until everything is well combined and there are no lumps.
- Step 5 Bring soup to a boil. Add frozen tortellini.
- Step 6 Continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until tortellini is tender and heated through.
- Step 7 Stir in cream or milk. Bring back to a steady boil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until smooth and thickened. Add the spinach and stir to combine.
- Step 8 Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
- Step 9 Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.
- Step 10 Serve with a loaf of crusty bread. Butter is optional but not at all Italian.