Carly Erickson loves soup so much that her Instagram handle is Soup.Lov3r. Naturally, she was also the winner of our Facebook soup recipe contest.
“Soup has always been my favorite food,” said Carly. “I feel like soup is very comforting. I feel like anybody can make a pot of soup. It’s one of those things where you can make something really fantastic with only a couple of ingredients.”
Soup may be her all-time favorite food, but Carly’s love for soup is only part of her love for cooking. When she was a young girl helping her mother cook, she used to wish that she was older so she could brown the hamburger. As she got older, she would occasionally fake sick so she could stay home and watch Rachel Ray.
Cooking was a huge thing for both of Carly’s parents when she was growing up.
And although some of her father’s favorite dishes included things like Spam and Velveeta, Carly maintains that she learned a lot about cooking from both parents.
“Growing up my mom was more of the traditionalist and my dad was more of the… experimentalist,” Carly laughed. “I remember helping my mom cook a lot during the holidays and I remember helping my dad cook a lot in general.”
Today, Carly’s recipes are a combination of inspiration from the past, present and personal experimentation
“I get a lot of my inspiration from Bon Appétit and I love Molly Yeh,” said Carly. “I also
just experiment a lot. The dish that I’ve made for you today is a combination of five or so different recipes. The best thing about soup is that you can make a dish a little bit different each time you make it but it’s still going to be delicious.”
The Recipe For Spicy Italian Tortellini Soup
- 10 cups of low sodium chicken broth
- 1 lb spicy Italian sausage
- 1 lb cheese tortellini
- 1 cup of half & half or cream
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 3 cups of fresh spinach
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3 TBL tomato paste
- 3 TBL flour
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Smoked paprika
- Lawry’s Seasoned salt
- Black pepper
- Red pepper flake
- Freshly grated parmesan
- 1 loaf of crusty bread
Begin by adding a tablespoon of olive oil to a large Dutch oven or stockpot, then add your spicy Italian sausage and begin to brown over medium heat. Crumble up the sausage to your liking and remove it from the pot once it’s browned and cooked through. Do not drain your pot of oil or grease from the sausage, it’s what you will use to soften your vegetables!
Add a tablespoon of butter to the pot and allow it to melt. Then, add your chopped carrots, celery and onion. Begin to sweat over medium heat while stirring frequently to encourage browning and contact with the bottom of your pan. Once your onions are nearly translucent, add your garlic and stir until fragrant. Then, add your seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, Lawry’s Season Salt and red pepper flakes. To be completely honest, I measure with my heart and do not use measuring spoons in dishes like this. Use your best judgment, but do keep in mind that soup should be seasoned in layers. Meaning, season little by little as you go. By doing this, you allow the soup to develop a more well-rounded flavor.
Once sufficiently seasoned (for the time being) add your tomato paste. Tomato paste is best when cooked, so add it to the vegetables in your pot and stir to coat your vegetables. Tomato paste that has been cooked adds a slight sweetness, creates umami and adds dimension to your dish. This should only take a minute or two, stir everything frequently until the paste has deepened in color. Then add your flour. Flour can leave an unpleasant taste in soup unless the flour is cooked off, and that process is similar to how you cooked the tomato paste. Incorporate flour into your vegetable mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes.
You’ll see that the bottom of your pot is brown–that’s called ‘fond’! Fond refers to the bits of food and seasoning that turn brown and sticks to the bottom of your pot. These little flavor packages will take your soup to the next level. That sounds incredibly corny, but I’m not joking! Next, add your sausage back to the pot and add your low-sodium chicken broth. I prefer low sodium in this dish because there is already plenty of salt in the sausage and Lawry’s seasoning. Upon mixing, you’ll see that your fond lifts from the bottom of the pot and combines with the soup. Bring the mixture to a boil, and allow your soup to boil for 10 minutes until the carrots and celery are fork-tender. Then, bring your soup down to a light simmer.
Next, add your cream or half and half. I use cream, and sometimes more than a cup makes it into this soup. Oops! Then, add your tortellini and mix.
Your soup should be warm enough to cook your tortellini in about 5 minutes. Just make sure to stir frequently so that your tortellini do not stick together. Finally, add in
3 cups of fresh spinach. Spinach wilts quickly and does not take up much volume in this soup, so adding extra won’t hurt.
Finally, stir one last time and check to see your tortellini are cooked and that the soup is seasoned to your liking. If you need more salt, add Lawry’s.
If it’s too salty, add more cream or broth. If you need some spice, red pepper flakes are there to save the day. If you need some acid, a simple squeeze of lemon can brighten the flavors in your bowl.
Don’t forget to garnish your soup with good quality parmesan, parsley (if you’re feeling fancy), and then serve with a crusty loaf of warm bread. A simple french loaf usually does the trick. Enjoy!
Remember that not all recipes will be your favorite, and that’s why it’s okay to substitute different ingredients for things you like better. The beauty of cooking is that you can make any dish your own, and this recipe is no exception! If you don’t like tortellini or need a gluten-free option, substitute any sort of noodle or filled pasta you like. If you prefer kale to spinach, that’s a great add-in too. Other types of root vegetables outside of carrots (like turnips or kohlrabi) are also delicious in a warming fall dish like this.