When my older son moved out of state for graduate school and my younger son was finishing college, I decided to write a cookbook. I enjoy cooking, especially creating my own recipes. I find it very relaxing. I am sure I completely spoiled my children when it came to meals. It was not unusual for dinners to be homemade rib roasts, seared tuna, soups, stews---you name it, I would make it. Cooking was my therapy. Since both my sons did not cook very much, I wanted the cookbook to have recipes in it that were their favorites with very, very, very concise and easy directions. The cookbook had recipes for appetizers, main dishes, soups, side dishes, breakfast foods, and desserts. I also put in a glossary of terms, common substitutions, and common measurement equivalents. I tried to think of everything so that cooking would not be so overwhelming to them. I even had a recipe for a baked potato---I only wish my younger son had read it before he put a white potato in the microwave without pricking holes in it. Yes, the potato exploded in the microwave. I will guarantee you, however, he will never do that again.
I must digress for a moment. I did not always cook like this. When I was first married, 27 years ago, I remember making homemade macaroni and cheese for the first time. Let's just say that when one does not know how to cook, one should not make homemade macaroni and cheese while talking on the telephone. Why, you ask? Because what I actually made was macaroni and glue. Since we were just married, my husband was very nice. He took a bite, then another and did not say anything. I took a bite, spit it out, and asked him how he could eat this crap. While we could not eat it, we did use it to hang our pictures.
The cookbook took me a few months to write and I even had it bound. I wanted my boys to experience the feeling of being home each time they made a recipe from it; plus, I hoped it also reminded them that I loved them very much. I cannot tell you how happy I am each time my kids call me up telling me what they have made from my cookbook. This cookbook was one of the best gifts I have given to my children because it was made from the heart.
I wanted to share with you my recipe for Hearty Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup. This time of year, when it gets cold out, all I want to make is comfort food, especially soup. This recipe is a favorite of all my boys which does include my husband. I hope you like it as much as our family does. My younger son was so excited the first time he made this soup that he took a picture of it and posted the photo on Facebook. I thought I would share his picture.
For those that are gluten-free, you can even make this soup by cooking the tortellini separately. Heck, you can prepare this soup healthier by using lean Italian turkey sausage and omitting the Parmesan cheese.
Hearty Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup
1 pound mild Italian sausage*
1 cup onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
5 cups beef broth
½ cup water
½ cup dry red wine**
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (14.5 ounces) cans diced tomatoes, drained**
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
½ teaspoon basil leaves
½ teaspoon oregano leaves
1½ cups zucchini, chopped
8 ounces meat or cheese tortellini
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
Grated Parmesan cheese
*can use hot Italian sausage or mixture of hot/mild sausage
**If omit wine, do not drain cans of chopped tomatoes
Remove sausage from casings. In a 5 quart pot, crumble and brown the sausage. Remove sausage, reserving 1 tablespoon of drippings.
Sauté onions and garlic in the drippings until onions are tender. Add beef broth, water, wine**, tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes**, carrots, basil, oregano, and the sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Skim fat from soup. Stir in zucchini, tortellini, parsley, and green pepper. Simmer, covered, an additional 30 minutes or until the tortellini are tender. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. Enjoy!