Cheating on your Tomato: Green Tortelloni Minestrone

11 Feb

Speaking of remembering the Summerier times, don’t you miss fresh veggies? As in go to the Farmer’s Market and get it from the source and it actually tastes like it’s supposed to and not some hard watery version that is only colored to look ripe (I’m looking at you tomatoes in February). Yeah, me too. Well I came across a lovely recipe from the sultry Nigella Lawson as a preview of a new cookbook, and I must say, this may be my new go to for the rest of my life.  This soup is hearty, EASY, not expensive, makes a ton, and healthy! And, the best part, it’s delicious (no, really).

Go Green: Tomato-Free Tortellone Minestrone from Nigella Lawson, via Food Republic from her upcoming cookbook Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes }

I must admit, I was a bit offended by the title, as my religion is based around the teachings of the tomato. However, we all need to try new things, even if I means lying to your best acidic friend.

Tomato: Hey Erica, what do we have in store for tonight? Pasta Sauce? Perhaps a fresh Caprese salad?

Erica: Oh…Tomato, I didn’t see you there. I..uh, I think we’re going out to eat tonight actually. You know, it’s been a while since we went out.

Tomato: Sure, I underst-why do you have Meijer bags with you? Did you just go grocery shopping?

Erica: What these? Oh no, I mean, I did go to Meijer, but there’s no food in there, I just had to pick up some…um, Preparation H, Yeah! Preparation H. It’s a mess back there.

Tomato: Oh yikes, I’ll, uh, leave you to that.

Erica: heh, he’ll have no idea once I start cooking–

Tomato: What was that? Did you say something?

Erica: What? Oh, no, just, ahh these hemorrhoids, why why why

Tomato: (cringing) Gotcha, see you later

{ and scene }

So here is the sexy line up I’ve been sneaking around with behind tomato’s back:

Now Entering Flavor Country

Can you blame me? Leeks, Peas, Green Beans, Zucchini, and Potatoes. I may not be an honest woman after tonight, but dayum veggies, you’s lookin’ fine this evening.

Now of course I had the ultimate dilemma while grocery shopping. I needed one potato for this, and one potato costs $0.50, while a 5 lb sack of potatoes cost $1.99. Well, at these prices it’s like highway robbery getting jet one, right…right?! So I got the sack, naturally. And what can you expect from me now? A month-long exploration of potatoes until that damn bag is done because I’ll be damned if I let those cheap taters go to waste. So we’re talking potato soup, scalloped potatoes, perhaps some Skins, and fancy hash browns?


If you have 30 minutes to kill, click on this link, it’s well worth it, and the picture will make sense.

But back to business. As I mentioned before, this soup is so easy. The recipe calls for garlic-flavored oil, so I improvised by crushing and roughly chopping about 4 clove soy garlic, and simmering them in oil over low heat while I chopped up all the veggies (dammit potatoes, you take so long to cut up, and make my hands all starchy, I suppose this is a glimpse into my potato-month) which took about 8 minutes. At that point, I turned up the heat, and added the veggies.


Once you give them a few good stirs and make sure everything is warming up, it’s time to add the water. Yes, not even stock, but beautiful, plentiful and free water! But, upon further inspection, my pot is already pretty full without the water. So I added the first 4 cups of water (out of 8) and confirmed my suspicions. It was time to move to a bigger pot. I have 2 pots (one of which is pictured above) which are roughly the same size. They fit most meals, and teeter on the edge of being too small for soup. I should have known. I also have one comically large pot which is perfect for soups, as I normally can’t even get it halfway full with even the biggest recipes. It’s time to make the switch. (sidenote: I feel like I have to switch pots and pans in the middle of cooking more than I should. I’d say one in every 4 cooking adventures involve a pot-change, which makes for more dishes, and sloppy exchanges)

PotsNow here’s where things get cool. Once you’ve let the water/garlic/veggie/oil mixture simmer long enough for everything to be coked through (even you, potatoes), spoon 3 large ladle-fulls out and set aside (we’ll come back to that in a sec) and add some cannelloni beans to the pot and let them bounce around. Now, it’s time to make this soup even brighter.


Basil and Tortelloni. I can almost see the sun again!  Add the tortelloni to the pot and let boil for about 3 minutes, then turn off the heat. Now take that basil, and add it to the veggies you took out of the pot earlier (remember that? You should, since it happened about 3 sentences ago). Toss some parmesan cheese in there, and blend everything into a creamy situation with an immersion blender.


I could eat this green paste all by itself. However, it will serve a better purpose by being added back into the soup, adding a wonderful thick and creamy texture. Heat the soup on low and let all the flavors incorporate for about 10 minutes. I decided to add the juice of 1 lemon here since I thought it would really play well with the brightness of the basil, and you know what, it was perfect!


And yes, if you’re eating a healthy green soup, you must MUST pair it with beer.
Go Green: Tomato-Free Tortellone Minestrone from Nigella Lawson, via Food Republic from her upcoming cookbook Nigellissima: Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes }
  • 3 tablespoons garlic-flavored oil
  • leaves from a few sprigs of thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 cups frozen petits pois
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 baking potato, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  • 2 large zucchini, half-peeled and finely diced
  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into short lengths
  • 8 cups cold water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini or flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound fresh spinach-and-ricotta tortelloni
  • leaves from a small bunch of basil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  1. Warm the oil in a large, heavy saucepan (that has a lid), stirring in the thyme.
  2. Add the peas and turn them in the garlic-flavored oil, then tip in the prepared leeks, potato, celery, zucchini and green beans and stir in the heat of the pan.
  3. Pour in the water, add the salt, put the lid on the pan and let come to a boil, then – you will have to keep an eye, or certainly an ear, on it to tell when – remove the lid and let everything bubble cheerfully for 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables – check the potato particularly – are tender. You could let the soup stand at this stage; if I’m planning to press forward within an hour or so, I put the lid on to keep in the heat; otherwise it is better to let it cool swiftly before reheating.
  4. Remove 3 ladlefuls of soup mixture, trying to scoop up more vegetables and less liquid, and tip into a blender (or a large bowl if you’re using an immersion blender) and set this aside.
  5. Add the drained, rinsed cannelloni or flageolet beans to the pan and bring back to a boil, then add the tortelloni and bring it all up to a boil again. Turn off the heat.
  6. Add the basil and Parmesan to the reserved vegetables in your blender or bowl and whizz to a vibrant green purée, then scrape this back into the pan, stirring it into the soup. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes before eating.
  7. Edit: I did not use the thyme or celery, and used about half the tortelloni called for, and it turned out beautifully

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