If you come from and Italian-American family, you may be familiar with Tuscan Bean Soup. It is a hearty, creamy soup full of vegetables, sometimes meat, and most importantly, cannellini beans. This soup is filling and rich, and is delicious with a hunk of crusty bread on the side. This soup is a dinner soup, in that it will fill you up and satisfy you after a long day.
I wanted to make this soup last Sunday, but I also wanted to get a little crazy with it. It is a toss up of whether or not my husband will eat a homemade soup, especially if it is full of vegetables that don’t make his “I will eat this” list. It’s not that he is a picky eater, but he is a slight picky eater.
Another issue I had is that I bought a HUGE bag of washed kale on sale last week. Kale on sale. I really like how that sounds. Anyway, I had to use up this kale before it went bad. I already tried to get my husband to eat a kale salad earlier in the week, which was met with a polite “no thanks”.
I had to figure out a way to integrate all these vegetables into a soup that hubs will eat and enjoy. And then it dawned on me – tortellini! Tortellini was on sale at the store, and my husband is a tortellini enthusiast. He was very intrigued by a soup with tortellini in it, so I decided that this soup was my meal-prep for the week.
Here is how I made it.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bone-in skin-on chicken breast
1 large shallot, chopped
1 large carrot, or 1 cup baby carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 large Idaho potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups kale, stemmed and chopped
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon dried Herbes de Province
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken stock, homemade or from a box
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1 package of your favorite store-bought tortellini, I used three-cheese flavor
Drizzle of Extra Virgin olive oil
Pinch of grated Romano cheese
Add olive oil to a stockpot and turn onto high heat.
Begin with searing the chicken. Salt and pepper your chicken breast. Add chicken to your now hot olive oil. You want the skin on and the bone in, to add flavor and depth to the broth. Sear the chicken on high heat until deeply golden on each side, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Turn down the heat to medium-low.
Add your shallots, carrot, celery, and potato into the pan with the rendered chicken fat and olive oil. Use a wooden spoon, taking care in scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. We will deglaze the pan later as well. Cook veggies until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add your kale, mushrooms, and dried herbs. Cook for another 5 minutes until your veg looks softened. A lot of people want to rush this step of quickly cooking these veggies, but I disagree. If you cook your veggies a while until they’re browned and soft, they will be a lot more flavorful in your soup. We don’t want our soup tasting like vegetable water.
Keeping the heat to medium low, cook all veggies until there is a fond, or consistent brown bits on the bottom from both the chicken and the veggies.
Add your stock and milk at this stage. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan thoroughly to ensure those brown bits incorporate into the broth. The soup should be loose at this point, and that’s okay. We will thicken it up in a little bit.
Allow your soup to come to a low simmer. Add your chicken breast back in to continue cooking. Keep the heat on low and cover the stockpot with the lid slightly ajar, to allow some steam to escape. Simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Once the veggies, especially the kale, is soft, we will incorporate our flour. Add your flour to a separate dry bowl. Take about 2-3 tablespoons of broth out of the soup and add it to the bowl with the flour. Mix with a tiny whisk or fork until a smooth paste forms and no lumps remain.
With the lid off and the soup actively simmering, quickly add your flour mixture into the soup. Stir vigorously for about one minute. You should immediately see the soup change texture to a slightly thicker, creamy soup. Continue cooking on low.
Add your beans to the soup. You do want the beans to cook for a little bit to ensure they have the right texture. Cook the beans for about 20-30 minutes. Taste for seasoning at this stage and add salt and pepper as needed. Beans and soup in general can take a lot of salt. You may think its too much salt at the time, but soup can really take a good tablespoon or two of salt. Taste and evaluate how salty you would like your soup. Remove chicken from the soup at this stage.
In a separate pot, bring enough water to a boil to cook your tortellini. Add salt to the water. Cook your tortellini 1-2 minutes shy of the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Dice up or shred your chicken and add it back to the soup. Add cooked tortellini and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. You can serve just like this, but you can also add toppings.
I went with a pinch of Romano cheese and a drizzle of EVOO to complete my soup.
And guess what? My husband LOVED it! The kale was soft so it did not add any unpleasantness to the experience. If you have a picky eater in your household, try this fabulous soup today!