Tortellini, Spinach & Lemon Soup

cuisine Italian
season Year Round
difficulty Easy
serves 4

Ingredients for the soup

8 cups homemade chicken stock (recipe below) 2 packages cheese tortellini, 1 pound each 4 cups baby spinach 1/2 cup parmesan, shredded 4 ounces pancetta, diced into tiny cubes 1/2 lemon 1/2 cup bread crumbs 1/4 cup fresh herbs (any mix of parsley, basil, thyme) Extra-virgin olive oil Sea salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Ingredients for the chicken stock

4 pounds chicken wings, bones, carcass 6 quarts water 2 carrots, cut into large chunks 2 celery stalks, cut into large chunks 1 small onion, cut into large chunks 1 herb bundle, (2 bay leaves, 4 sprigs thyme, 10 sprigs parsley), tied together with kitchen twine 6 thyme sprigs, tied with kitchen twine 12 black peppercorns 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon kosher salt

Directions for the soup

  1. Pour the chicken stock into a 4 quart pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Mix the herbs into the bread crumbs. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil toast over medium heat until golden brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper and reserve.
  3. Put the pancetta cubes into a small skillet and brown over medium heat. Drain on paper towels and reserve.
  4. Add the tortellini to stock and boil the pasta according to package directions. Lower the heat to simmer and squeeze in the lemon juice.
  5. Ladle the cooked tortellini among the soup plates. Sprinkle each bowl with 1 cup of spinach (it will begin to wilt immediately). Shave a generous amount of Parmesan over the dish, evenly distribute the pancetta cubes among the bowls, and finish with a generous spoonful of the toasted bread crumbs piled in the center of the bowl on top of a tortellin so they do not get soggy). Serve immediately.

Directions for the chicken stock

  1. Add all ingredients for the stock except the lemon juice to a large stockpot. Bring the stock to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 4 to 6 hours.
  2. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Add the lemon juice and salt.
  3. Strain the stock through a fine-meshed sieve. Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
  4. Refrigerate at least 8 hours. Remove the fat that hardens and rises to the top. 


Kitchen Notes

Homemade chicken stock may be refrigerated for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 3 months. The longer the stock is simmered, the richer and more concentrated the taste will be. The stock is lightly salted and should be seasoned further according to the needs of the recipe in which it will be used--the cheese and pancetta add salt to this recipe so no additional salt has been added to the soup before ladling it into bowls. Panko bread crumbs may be substituted but stale bread is best for this recipe (simply whir in a food processor or Vitamix 2 slices of day old (or older) bread. Bread from an artisanal loaf or baguette is best.