Pasta in a creamy broth, with chunks of chicken and wilted spinach. What do you think? Sounds pretty decadent, huh? Now imagine that this can be made in about fifteen minutes of real hands on time, while slowly cooking away in your crock pot for most of the day. Winner! Winner!
Soups for dinner!
Here's what you do. In the morning, you need to chop up a little onion and garlic and saute it in olive oil over medium heat, until the veggies become translucent and soft, not brown. Add a couple tablespoons of tomato paste.
I pulled two cubes of paste out of my freezer, because it seems I can never use a full can of tomato paste in one recipe. I measure a tablespoon of paste into ice cubes trays and freeze them. Pop them out and store in a small freezer bag for use another day. I microwave the frozen cubes for about thirty seconds and they are ready to add to any recipe.
After you add some flour and dried basil, the mixture comes together like this. I know it doesn't look too promising at this point, but stay with me. Now you can take this mixture and put it into your crockpot.
Add chicken broth, chicken thighs and a can of undrained, petite,diced tomatoes. Put the lid on the crockpot, turn it to low and forget about it for four to six hours.
When you come back later in the day, you can take out the chicken and shred or chop it into bite sized pieces, add a package of cheese tortellini and a few handfuls of spinach.
While you're grating the cheese (because you know its better when you grate it yourself, right?), heat up some heavy cream over low heat and then add the warm cream to the crockpot. Don't skip this step, because if you put cold cream in that hot crock pot, you just might end up with a curdled, grainy sauce. Add the grated cheese.
Put the lid back on, crank it up to high and let it cook for about ten or fifteen minutes, just until the pasta is cooked through. You can always grate some more cheese on top, if that's the way you roll. It's the way we roll. Enjoy with some good crusty bread.
As a side note, this makes a big pot of soup, so if you plan to have leftovers, don't be surprised if tomorrow when you take it out of the refrigerator, it no longer looks like soup. The pasta will continue to soak up the sauce and what you'll end up with is a bowl of creamy pasta, but not soup. If you want to take it back to a soup state, add some broth and thin it out. If not, just enjoy that delicious bowl of pasta.
Crock pot Creamy Tortellini Soup
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 T. dried basil
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 T. tomato paste
4 T. olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
2 ( 15.5 oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 t. pepper
1 package (about 4 cups) frozen or fresh tortellini
3 cups packed spinach
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream or half and half, warmed
In saucepan over medium heat, sauce the onions, and basil in olive oil. Add the tomato paste and flour. Stir until flour is completely mixed. It will be very dry and pasty at this point. Put mixture in crockpot.
Add broth, tomatoes ( undrained), chicken, salt and pepper to the slow cooker. Stir.
Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until chicken is very tender.
Remove the lid and remove chicken to shred or chop into bite sized pieces. Add the tortellini, spinach, parmesan cheese and warm milk. Add the chicken back to the crockpot. Place lid back on and cook on High for 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through.
* Recipe adapted from 365daysofcrockpot.com