Garden Recipes

I am going to start this page by sharing an award winning soup recipe. Italian Tortellini Soup. Award winning you say? Yes that is right, award winning!  The office where I used to work holds an annual soup competition. Employees prepare entries and each office selects their favorite soup, and sends the winning employee to the regional soup cook-off. This recipe was my office’s winning soup and at the region competition it was declared the overall regional winner. Great recipe! My supervisor was so delighted when my recipe won that she and another co-worker plastered my wall with pictures of soup cans. It brightened the office for a couple of weeks.

Where did the recipe come from? We had a neighbor who had Italian family roots, and she shared this soup with my family. We loved it. That was about 10 years ago. I’m glad that I asked her for the recipe. She gave me a copy of her family’s cookbook, The LaFrance Family Cookbook. You’ll love all the healthy garden produce that is the highlight of this recipe.

(I have a little secret–over the years I adapted the recipe to simplify the preparation and to take advantage of the bounty of my summer garden all year long. I now make the recipe with my own homegrown tomato sauce, which makes it extra delicious. I’ll share the adaptation soon, it is not included in the recipe below. What follows is the inspirational recipe that was given to me.)

Italian Tortellini Soup

Ingredients

1 lb. Italian sausage (bulk or remove the casings)

1 cup onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups Roma tomatoes, chopped (or 2 cans diced tomatoes)

5 cups beef stock or canned beef broth

1-8 oz. can of tomato sauce

1 large zucchini, diced

2 large carrots, thickly sliced

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced

½ cup of 100% grape juice

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. dried basil (or 3 tbsp. fresh)

1 tsp. Italian seasoning

8 – 10 oz. fresh cheese tortellini (results are also good with frozen tortellini)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Fry the Italian sausage in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to a bowl.

Remove all but one tablespoon of sausage drippings from the Dutch oven. Add the onion and the garlic to the Dutch oven and sauté until translucent. Return the sausage to the Dutch oven. Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato sauce, zucchini, carrots, bell pepper, grape juice and the herbs / spices. Simmer on low until vegetables are tender.

Add the tortellini to the soup and cook a few minutes until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with a sprinkle of with Parmesan cheese.

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