29 November 2010

Turkey, Tortellini & Spinach Soup

Turkey, Turkey Everywhere!

That’s how it always feels to me in the days following Thanksgiving anyway… like everywhere you look there’s leftover turkey. Yesterday I finally used up the last of the holiday bird in a Turkey, Tortellini & Spinach soup. 

The original recipe from epicurious.com used watercress instead of spinach, and didn’t include any other veggies in the finished product, so of course I modified it to fit my taste. The original recipe also calls for using the turkey meat from the carcass you’ve now cooked a second time while making the stock in the finished soup. I have always found that after making the stock all the flavor has been “sucked” out of the meat so choose not to re-use it, instead using additional meat that has not been used in making the stock.

We liked it; hope you do too.


Turkey, Tortellini & Spinach Soup

For the stock:
5 quarts (20 cups) water
Turkey carcass, broken into large pieces (I used only the wings & thighs/legs)
1 carrot, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
4 sprigs parsley
1 tsp. fennel seeds

In a large stockpot combine above ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, for 2 hours.  Strain the stock through a mesh sieve into a large bowl, discarding the solids.

For the soup:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 medium onion, diced
Stock from above
2 cups finely diced cooked turkey
1 – 10 oz. package refrigerated cheese tortellini
Salt & pepper to taste
4 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach

In your large stockpot sauté the carrots, celery, and onion in olive oil until tender. Add stock and diced turkey to the pot and bring to a boil. Add tortellini, salt & pepper, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer just until the tortellini is tender, about 6 minutes. Add spinach and cook for an additional minute. Serve and enjoy!

21 November 2010

Pumpkin Butter

After the Halloween Jack-O-Lanterns were all carved, lit, and composted I still had four pumpkins left that required some kind of attention. After gutting them I roasted the seeds and baked/ pureed the flesh. Most of the puree was measured into freezer bags and stacked in the freezer to be used through the winter (the first one will come out later this week for the requisite Thanksgiving pumpkin pie), but some was used to make a batch of pumpkin butter.

No, there is no butter – or even margarine – involved. This is totally fat-free (although definitely not calorie free).

Not familiar with pumpkin butter? I’ve found that most people aren’t, and when I say that it’s similar to apple butter it’s a toss up if I’ll get a blank look or comprehension. I next describe it as a pureed fruit spread – kind of a cross between jam and jelly – and usually the look of comprehension dawns. Pumpkin butter is awesome on toast, pancakes, and even spooned over vanilla ice cream.

The original recipe my mom had was cut from the Pioneer Press in the early 80s. I remember spending days in the kitchen with her cooking up batch after batch that we’d preserve and give as gifts. Alas… that recipe was lost a few years back, and every fall since I’ve been searching for a comparable one with no luck. This year I tried melding a few different recipes and came up with the recipe here. It’s pretty close to my memory, and my mom thought it was really good. I don’t have the equipment to go through the whole preserving process anymore, but instead divided it into freezer containers. Oh, and as it still makes a great gift, I’m continuing to share it with friends too…

Spicy Pumpkin Butter

1 - 29 oz. can of pumpkin puree (or fresh pureed pumpkin)
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or more, until thickened to desired consistency, stirring frequently.

Cool and refrigerate. It should keep in the refrigerator for about one month. Enjoy!

18 November 2010

My Favorite Quote Today...

From Patti Smith, in her speech accepting the National Book Award for non-fiction last night:

"There is nothing more beautiful in our material world than the book."

14 November 2010

Mushroom & Barley Soup

Since I promised this recipe to a friend I thought I'd make it the first post so I can finally get it shared with her. The original version comes from the 3 Books in 1 Crock-Pot cookbook, which has a whole bunch of awesome recipes. I've made a few changes to the recipe (because after all, a recipe is only a suggestion!), most notably doing half button and half crimini mushrooms instead of just buttons. I have made it with just crimini as well and there didn't seem to be much of a difference so I do the half & half just to save a few pennies at the grocery store. I'm loving slow cooker cooking more and more - and winter is really a perfect time to utilize this versatile kitchen appliance.

Be warned on this one though - the smell that fills the house is so good that you'll be salivating long before it's time to eat. This soup is so hearty that even the meat lovers in my family didn't miss it - and actually didn't even notice that it was meatless. Score one for me. Add some nice crusty bread and you're good to go!

Don't judge the soup by the quality of my photo...

Mushroom & Barley Soup

9 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I like to use half low sodium)
1 – 8 oz package sliced fresh button mushrooms
1 – 8 oz package sliced fresh crimini mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled & diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley (I like thick soup so would make it a generous 1/2 cup)
1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, broken into pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt (if desired)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker and stir until well blended.  Cover; cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Makes 8 servings.