Last evening, we had the pleasure of attending a local ‘farm-to-table’ dinner series created by the wonderful and talented Kristin Perry of The Kitchen Potager. Her dinner series features chefs who are passionate about using local, seasonal ingredients. Last night’s event was held at the magical historic estate of Marsh Gibbon, where dinner was served near the wood stove in the old stable while the chefs worked tirelessly near the fire burning outside in the walled garden. The chefs, Andrew and Kristin Wood, have a lifetime of culinary experience and are about to open a restaurant in Philadelphia named Russet which will embrace their love of fresh, simple and rustic ‘farm-to-table’ ingredients. And judging by the food that was served last evening, it will be a huge success!
So with today being one of the chilliest days of the season and a day full of chores ahead, I decided to recreate Chef Andrew’s classic Italian soup that hails from Emilia Romagna – Tortellini en Brodo (tortellini in broth). Chef Andrew’s version was a delectable combination of tiny handmade tortellini simmering in a wonderfully rich broth – both made from locally raised capons. He then added fresh spinach from the winter garden and topped with a simple grating of parmigiano cheese. A true bowl of warmth for the soul. And a special tip he learned from a chef in Italy – drizzle a drop or two of red wine into the bowl just prior to eating. A tip we indeed took to heart last evening – yummy!
So for my version today, I made some fresh stock (no capons in sight at the market this morning ) and stopped by the Italian market to buy some of their homemade tortellini. Over the years, I have made this delightful soup in many ways: when time is not a factor – from scratch start to finish or when working late and in a bit of a pinch, using all store-brough ingredients (of course, there is nothing like the ‘from scratch’ version!) This was a nice compromise while I buzzed about the house. I added in some organic kale that looked wonderfully fresh at the local farm market, some crusty bread and a meal was born. Thanks Kristin and chefs Andrew and Kristin for a wonderful evening, a tremendous meal and great inspiration!
Tortellini en Brodo
For the broth:
1 (4 to 6 pound) chicken, cut into pieces
About 1 pound of beef or veal shank bones
1 carrot, cut in half
1 stalk of celery, cut in half
1 large onion, cut in quarters
1 tablespoon of salt
For the soup:
1 pound fresh tortellini (I used meat-filled)
1 bunch fresh kale or spinach, trimmed and chopped
1 zest of lemon
Freshly grated parmigiano
1 large stock pot – that’s it!
1. Make the broth: In a large stockpot, combine the chicken parts, shank bones, carrot, celery and salt. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
2. Lower heat to a gentle simmer. Occasionally skim the fat and foam from the surface and continue to add water as needed to keep vegetables/chicken submerged. Cook for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours until flavorful. Skim to remove any foam or fat from the surface. (If you make ahead, refrigerate overnight. Skim the fat off the surface and bring to a slow simmer before proceeding.)
3. Finish the soup: Bring the broth to a slow simmer. Add in the tortellini and cook until al dente. Add in the kale. Simmer for a minute or two. Adjust seasonings – add salt and freshly ground pepper if needed.
4. Ladle into warm bowls. Top with a little lemon zest and freshly grated parmigiano.
5. Serve with warm crusty bread! Buon appetito!