Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tortellini Soup with Sausage, Kale and Cannelloni Beans

This soup is an old family recipe and never fails to be a huge crowd favorite. It's also really easy and doesn't take long to develop incredible flavors (a huge plus for soups). You can even do some of the steps ahead of time to make your life easier on a busy week night or hectic day.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces fully cooked kielbasa sausage, thinly sliced (or 4-5 links of sweet Italian sauce, uncooked is fine)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper (optional- I never use it and bf just adds it into his bowl)
  • 10 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 15-ounce can cannelloni beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 9-ounce package fresh cheese tortellini
  • Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top



Fennel can be frightening, I know. If I hadn't eaten it in this soup before I knew what it was, I probably would have been convinced I didn't like it. It smells like licorice and feels rubbery and hard. But in this soup, it's just perfection. I thought I might give a few pointers on how to cut it up safely and effectively. First, start by chopping off the stalks and all of the hairy-looking dark green parts. Then slice the bulb in half, like so.

Then you want to make a diagonal cut to get out most of the heart of the bulb. It's super tough and doesn't taste good at all, so you really don't want it in the soup.






Next you want to do two diagonal cuts, this time vertically, to cut out the rest.








You also want to cut up the onion and the garlic and mix them together with the fennel. I did the chopping the afternoon and then covered the bowl and put it in the fridge for a few hours until it was time to make dinner. Be careful to cover tightly though, this stuff is pungent!




When you are ready to make dinner, heat up the olive oil, then add the sausage (without the casings or the precooked slices), the chopped veggies and the thyme. Cook for about 12 minutes or until the sausage is browned and cooked through. If you are using sausage that it's precooked, you are going to want to stir the mixture and break up the sausages every few minutes.


Once the sausage is ready, I add the broth and bring the liquid to a boil. Then added the rinsed and drained cannelloni beans and the chopped and rinsed kale. Simmer the whole pot until the kale is wilted, about 4-5 minutes.





Next, I added the tortellinis and simmered for another 5 minutes. You want the pasta to be just tender to the bite, but not falling apart.







Finally, serve big steaming boils with lots of Parmesan on top and bread on the side!

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