Food & Drink

I'm Chris - or Christopher - or Mr. Dean - or Master Christopher - or just plain Sir. I'm a self-professed foodie. I love to cook and I take great pleasure in all things edible. My husband and I are relatively new to Portland, Oregon and are enjoying our culinary explorations of the area!

Food is NOT just fuel!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Chicken Meatball and Cheese Tortellini Soup

I found this recipe in the book "Dinner At My Place" by Tyler Florence. I was searching for something comforting - something to soothe me to the core. This certainly hit the nail on the head.

Around this time of year, like everyone else, I begin craving soups and stews. As it begins to get colder I transition into roasts, and big, slow-cooked cuts of meat (as my friend Mary-Ellen recently said "I'd eat a unicorn if it were slow-cooked properly"). This delicious meal had the meatiness I wanted (chicken meatballs) and the warmth of a really good soup.

I made a TON of meatballs. Seriously, so many. We had some as appetizers before the meal. And for all my good intentions of saving 2 bowls of soup as leftovers...I ate out the meatballs, and never got around to finishing off the soup. :)

And truth be told - I made the meatballs the day before and put them in the refrigerator overnight. That worked just fine and gave me less to do as I was assembling the soup.

Chicken Meatball and Cheese Tortellini Soup

for the meatballs:
4 links organic chicken-apple sausage (instead, I used 1 1/2 lbs ground chicken meat)
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 C whole milk (I used half & half)
1 egg
2 Tbl chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 C grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 Tbl for sprinkling
Fresh ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

for the soup:
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 large carrots, cut into circles
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
2 quarts reduced-sodium chicken broth
4 black peppercorns
2 Tbl chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 bay leaf
1 lb. fresh refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini, thawed
1/4 C finely chopped Italian parsley
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Fresh parsley sprigs, for garnish
1 crusty baguette, to serve with the soup

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare meatballs by combing loose ground chicken meat (discard casings if using links), bread crumbs, milk, egg, parsley, and 1/4 C grated cheese in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt & pepper, then mix until fully combined. Using a small ice cream scoop (or a large spoon), make balls and set on a roasting tray. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with 2 Tbl. grated cheese. Roast for 15 - 20 minutes, until golden brown and caramelized.

While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the soup. Set a large stockpot over medium heat. Add a 2-count of oil (about 2 Tbl), the garlic and the thyme. Gently saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add carrot, onion, and celery. Season with salt and cook for 5 - 7 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and add peppercorns, 2 Tbl. parsley, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

Once meatballs are cooked, scrape them into the pot of chicken soup and add tortellini. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 - 3 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Remove peppercorns and bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Sprinkle with parsley and grated cheese. Garnish each bowl with a parsley sprig and serve with torn pieces of crusty bread.

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