This is a “meal” soup. I fixed this for a special someone who had just driven for about nine hours. After that grueling ordeal, you don’t want something too heavy. You want comfort food. You don’t want to be stuffed, but you’re hungry. This soup is the perfect solution for that dilemma. This goes together in a flash, it’s delicious and it’s pure comfort in a bowl. Win-Win! I prefer this to be “meatless”. I used cheese tortellini, but you can use whatever type floats your boat. You can add cooked chicken, which is a great way to use leftover rotisserie chicken, or cooked Italian sausage, which will make for a really filling soup. I think the addition of meat “muddies” the flavors too much, so that’s why I prefer not to add it…I prefer the cannellini beans. Use vegetable broth, if you want this to be vegetarian. I also use quite a bit fresh basil, because I love basil. But, make it your way…that’s what soup is all about.
So here’s the deal…you want a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the oil, onion, fresh fennel, bay leaf and half the garlic; cook over medium heat. Stir relatively frequently, so the veggies doesn’t burn. I like to use either leeks or young Vidalia onions, but regular onion is delicious, too. You want the veggies to just wilt…they don’t need to be fully cooked. Pour in the broth (sometimes I add some white wine, as part of the broth), sun-dried and diced tomatoes, the beans, oregano and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes. Pour in the heavy cream, the fresh basil and add the tortellini. If you’re using smaller tortellini, simmer for 6-8 minutes. Larger ones, may take a bit longer. When the tortellini are cooked through, add the spinach, and the remaining garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the soup thickens up a bit. Remove the pot from the heat source; let stand for at least 5 minutes. If you want a richer soup, float some butter on each serving; it just adds a nice flavor and texture. You can also drizzle each bowl with some fine olive oil, if you prefer that. Sprinkle each bowl with heaps of parmesan, because can you ever really have too much cheese? NO! You must have some good bread or garlic crôutes. A couple of wedges of a some nice cheese, is also lovely. And that’s all there is to it. Now, having said that good bread is essential, I served this with wedges of Caramelized Three-Onion Crôustade with Apple Butter, Feta and Bacon.
Creamy White Bean-Tortellini Soup with Spinach and Garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced (leeks or spring onions are delicious–about 1 cup)
- 3/4 cup finely diced fresh fennel bulb
- 6 cloves garlic, grated and divided
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 9-12 ounce package refrigerated tortellini (I use the cheese-filled, multi-colored type)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (I use more)
- 1-2 cups spinach
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, over medium heat, add the oil, onion, fennel, bay leaf(ves) and half the garlic; cook, stirring frequently until tender. Add the broth, sun-dried and diced tomatoes, white beans, oregano and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer; simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the heavy cream, and tortellini. Simmer for 6-8 minutes. When the tortellini are cooked through, add the spinach, fresh basil and the remaining garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the soup thickens up a bit. Let stand for at least 5 minutes. Sprinkle each bowl with parmesan. Serve with garlic crôutes or good bread, if desired.
NOTE: If you wish, add 2 cups cooked chicken or Italian sausage with the spinach.
Creamy White Bean-Tortellini Soup with Spinach and Garlic Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019. All rights reserved.