Anyway, let's get on to the real topic of the post.
Regular readers know my favorite holiday to host is Christmas. I love cooking a huge elaborate meal that is unconstrained by tradition. I have loved all the Christmas dinners I have cooked, but I think if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the most recent one.
When I remember the food I think of the chocolate ricotta cake that I almost didn't make, the cookies that were a throwback to my childhood, and of course, the porchetta with it's delicious shards of crispy skin and the lemony arugula gremolata spread over its surface.
In the midst of the sweets and the meats, it's hard to remember the unsung hero of that dinner. I don't know if everyone remembers the soup course, but I remember it well. I spent hours simmering the homemade stock. Then I found scrumptious tortellini to float in it. The soup was the simplest item on the menu, but it was perfect in its simplicity. With the right pasta, the flavorful stock was all I needed to complement them. It was equivalent to serving pasta in a well-made sauce.
I was in the mood for tortellini this week and I decided I wanted to serve them in a soup again. I had simmered some stock last week and I was ready to use it. I could make another round of tortellini in brodo, but I wanted to make a soup that would be a full meal and not just an appetizer. Now that summer is approaching, the farmers' markets are filling up with the best fresh produce. I wanted to experiment with a vegetable-based soup (but not tomato because I make a lot of tomato soup).
I decided to try making a zucchini soup. I was thinking of a soup that was a little rich, but still fresh tasting, and wouldn't compete too much with the tortellini. Zucchini-tortelini soup? That's a lot of "inis". It set up a cute name for it.
Okay, maybe the name is hokier than it is cute, but at least I didn't fall back on my pun habit and call it Ini Meeny Miney Moe Soup (although I kind of just did that, didn't I?).
I sauteed zucchini slices from two zucchini and cooked until they were soft. Then I added some garlic. I simmered this in my homemade chicken stock with mint, parsley, and lemon juice.
I made this into a blended soup. Once it was well blended, I finished it with a touch of cream.
I cooked the tortellini separately and added them to the pot.
The recipe needed some improvements. I used too much lemon, so I cut the amount of lemon in the recipe below (a half instead of a whole). The color was a bit drab, so another zucchini (zucchino?) or two wouldn't hurt. Some pecorino would also have been nice in here to play against the mint. (If you haven't tried mint and pecorino together, please go find a way to do that).
Ini-Ini Soup (Cream of Zucchini Soup with Tortellini)
- 2 Tbl olive oil
- 2-4 medium zucchini, sliced
- About 2 cloves of garlic (depending on size and how much you like garlic), minced
- 1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 Tbl chopped fresh parsley
- 1 Tbl chopped fresh mint
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 9 oz. package cheese tortellini
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the sliced zucchini and cook until soft. It's okay if they take on a little color.
Add the garlic and cook another minute until fragrant.
Add the stock, lemon juice, parsley, and mint to the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the tortellini in a separate pot in 4-6 quarts of boiling water. Remove from heat and drain a couple of minutes short of cooking time directed on the package.
Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor or use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Stir in the cream.
Stir the drained tortellini into the soup and serve.