15:29 | 23/12/2021 Print
Packed with spinach, and cheese-filled tortellini, this soup has the satisfying heartiness you crave on those lingering chilly nights, but it also greets you with all the brightness of spring, thanks to a big squeeze of lemon. A soup with all these merits isn’t a mirage, and it doesn’t require a place on the back burner to simmer all day. Nope, this is a soup for those who like their comfort food fast.
With a 30-minute cook time and the majority of the ingredients already hanging out in your fridge, a fast and fresh dinner never looked better.
1 bunch of mature spinach (9–12 oz.)
1 small bunch of dill
1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. vegetable bouillon paste (preferably Better Than Bouillon) or 4 cubes bouillon or 8 cups homemade vegetable stock or low-sodium vegetable broth
10 oz. cheese, spinach, or mushroom tortellini
4 large eggs
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
Extra-virgin olive oil and Parmesan (for serving)
1. Prep your green things: Trim roots and leggy stalks from 1 bunch of mature spinach (9–12 oz.). Wash well and spin or pat dry; coarsely chop. Coarsely chop leaves and tender stems from 1 small bunch of dill to make ½ cup. Set a few tender sprigs aside for serving; reserve remaining dill for another use.
|Photo: Bon Appetit|
2. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a medium Dutch oven or other heavy pot. Add 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. vegetable bouillon paste (preferably Better Than Bouillon) or 4 cubes bouillon (or follow the package instructions) and whisk to dissolve. (Alternatively, you can heat 8 cups vegetable stock or low-sodium vegetable broth if you prefer). Add 10 oz. cheese, spinach, or mushroom tortellini and cook 3 minutes (or according to package directions), then remove from heat. Using a spider, slotted spoon, or fine-mesh sieve, divide among bowls.
3. Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze juice through your hand or a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. You should have ¼ cup; repeat with another lemon if you need a little more juice.
|Photo: Cooking Light|
4. Whisk lemon juice, 4 large eggs, and 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper in a medium bowl or large measuring glass to combining.
5. Return broth to a gentle simmer. Scoop out about 1 cup and very gradually drizzle into egg mixture, whisking constantly. (This step, called tempering, warms up the delicate eggs slowly so that they don’t scramble when you add them to the rest of the hot broth.) The egg mixture should be quite warm to the touch—if not, whisk in more broth.
6. Whisking constantly, gradually pour warm egg mixture into broth in the pot. Cook, whisking often, over medium heat, until slightly thickened, 5–7 minutes. (Do not let the broth come to a full boil.) Taste and season with kosher salt and more pepper if needed. If your broth is really salty, you might need to add a bit of water to dilute the soup.
|Photo: Love and Lemons|
7. Remove from heat and add spinach and chopped dill (the spinach will wilt immediately.)
8. Ladle broth into bowls with tortellini. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and shave or finely grate Parmesan over. Sprinkle with a little pepper and top with remaining reserved dill sprigs.
9. Do ahead: Tortellini can be cooked 2 days ahead. Toss in an airtight container with a little oil to keep from sticking. Cover and chill. Broth can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat very gently, stirring constantly to re-emulsify (it may separate in the fridge), before ladling over tortellini.
Some soups are meant to simmer on the stovetop for hours, while others (like this one) rely on freezer staples and require no more than 30 minutes of your time from start to finish.
Frozen tortellini is the MVP of this dinner. It cooks quickly right in the soup, soaking up the brightness of the lemon and richness of the broth.
Frozen tortellini is my go-to because I know I can always count on having a bag in the freezer, plus it tends to be a little cheaper. Fresh tortellini will also certainly work in this recipe — you’ll just need to reduce the cooking time by a few minutes.
My go-to tactic for making dinner prep as efficient and speedy as possible is to embrace the “meanwhile.” This means that instead of prepping all the ingredients at the onset (as we’re often told to do), you should work as you go. Prep the veggies you’ll need to get the soup started, and then as they cook you can use that time to juice and zest the lemon and gather the remaining ingredients.
How long does an unopened package of fresh tortellini last? The exact answer to that question depends to a large extent on storage conditions - keep fresh tortellini refrigerated at all times.
How long does an unopened package of fresh tortellini last in the refrigerator? Unopened fresh tortellini may be kept refrigerated for about 2 to 3 days after the "sell-by" date on the package if it has been properly stored.
To maximize the shelf life of fresh tortellini, do not open the package until ready to use.
Can you freeze fresh tortellini? Yes, to freeze: Place fresh tortellini in covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.
How long does fresh tortellini last in the freezer? Properly stored, unopened fresh tortellini will maintain the best quality for about 1 to 2 months in the freezer but will remain safe beyond that time.
The freezer time shown is for best quality only - fresh tortellini that has been kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely.
How to tell if fresh tortellini is bad? The best way is to smell and look at the fresh tortellini: if fresh tortellini develops an off odor, flavor, or appearance, or if mold appears, it should be discarded.
How to reheat filled tortellini
To reheat tortellini filled with cheese or cheese and spinach, bring a large pot of water to a boil and then use a metal strainer to submerge the tortellini in the boiling water. Cook for approximately 30 seconds or until warmed all the way through.
Hailing originally from the Italian region of Emilia, tortellini are also traditionally stuffed with ricotta cheese. But history has shown a willingness for Italian cooks to go well beyond cheese, with various meats like prosciutto, mortadella, and pork loin finding a home inside of the ring-shaped pasta.
The origins of tortellini are a bit more of a mystery, with various folk tales purporting many fantastical origins of the pasta. One legend claims that a cook at an inn was struck by divine inspiration to create the pasta after catching a glimpse of the navel of Venus, the goddess of love. We’re not saying that’s completely fabricated, but it’s more likely that tortellini was created sometime during the middle ages to keep the savory filling from spilling out into the boiling pasta water.
|Photo: The Pasta Project|
Essentially an Italian dumpling, ravioli features a filling that’s sealed between two thin layers of egg pasta. Ravioli are typically square, though other forms are also used, including circular or semi-circular (mezzelune). The filling varies depending on the region of origin, but here in the New World, we’ve grown accustomed to our ravioli being filled with ricotta cheese. But variations abound, with meat-stuffed ravioli making the rounds, as well as other ingredients like pumpkin and runny egg yolk filling that delicate space in between pasta sheets.
Ravioli dates back to the 14th century, with one of the first recipes for traditional ravioli featuring a stuffing of mixed herbs, fresh cheese, and beaten eggs, all simmered in a broth. One interesting theory about the origins of ravioli states the dish was first invented by Genovesi sailors who would wrap the leftover portions of their meals within a dough pocket in order to add some additional variety to the typical sailor’s diet.
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