When I was young, we would go to see my paternal grandmother once a week. She lived about a half hour away from us, and to me, she might as well have lived across the country. How I dreaded that drive as a young child. But, there was one thing that made the trip worthwhile…my grandmother’s chicken soup. How I loved that soup!
From the moment we walked in the door we could smell the broth simmering away. And as soon as she saw my face, she would cook the pasta. My father’s mother spoke only Italian, so we had virtually no verbal communication; it was all about the food. This was how I was assured as a small child of my grandmother’s affection…she took the time to cook for me. That is what I love about food. It communicates to each of us in a different way…no words are necessary.
Chicken Tortellini Soup
• 8 Whole Chicken Wings (you can use whole chicken if you wish)
• 7 Quarts cold water
• 2 Beef marrow bones
• 4 Carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
• 4 Stalks celery cleaned
• 4-6 scallions, left whole with ends trimmed
• 3 sprig fresh thyme
• 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
• 1 Tablespoon whole black peppercorns
• 1 pound fresh or frozen tortellini
To Make the Soup
Rinse the chicken wings and pat them dry.
Place them in 7 quarts of cold water and put the pan over medium heat.
Add the salt and peppercorns, and cover the pot.
While the water begins to increase in temperature, place a sauté pan over medium heat.
To the sauté pan add the beef marrow bones, and let the bones caramelize on all sides. This will take about 8-10 minutes.
With a pair of kitchen tongs add the beef marrow bones to the pot with the chicken, but keep all the juices from the beef bones in the sauté pan.
Add the carrots, celery, scallion and thyme to the sauté pan and cook over medium low heat for ten minutes, turning them every few minutes. The vegetables will soak up the flavors of the beef bones, and they will soften and release their flavors as well.
When the vegetables are ready, pour the contents of the entire sauté pan into the soup pot (including any accumulated juices).
Cover the pot again, and let the soup simmer for a minimum of four hours or up to six. As you approach the end of the cooking time, you want to taste the broth to check for seasoning and adjust as desired.
When the soup has finished cooking, strain the entire pot of soup through a colander so that you discard the chicken, beef bones, vegetables and peppercorns. The broth should be a rich golden color.
Chill the soup for a few hours, and then skim off the layer of fat that accumulates on the surface.
At this point, you can divide the soup into containers and freeze, or continue to the next step:
To Serve the Soup
Bring the broth to a full boil, and add one pound of fresh or frozen tortellini (such as Digiorno).
The tortellini is done when the little pastas float to the top.
Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with some fresh thyme and a grinding of black pepper, if desired.
The Elegant Occasion Note: If you are using dried pasta for the soup (dried tortellini, orzo, pastina, etc.) cook the pasta in a separate pot of boiling water according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and then divide it into bowls and pour the hot broth over.
This is a great lunch for kids to take to school. Simply place boiling water in a thermos and close the lid. Let the water sit in the thermos for 20 minutes to a half an hour. Drain the water from the thermos and replace it with the hot soup. Because you have pre-heated the thermos, the soup will stay warm for hours!
The Elegant Occasion Wine Pairing: Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay