Tortellini Soup, Where’s the Grape?

Most people will remember the tortellini post from a few months back, if not, definitely check it out. Today I will put to rest all of your questions about where those little pockets of awesome end up, and the especially controversial issue of the grape! First of all, my mom is too busy making gallons upon gallons of soup to take pictures of it. She needs to make enough for 30 people! Because of that, I recreated the soup a few days later at Kim’s house so I could get these pictures. It is just a simple chicken soup that complements the flavors of the tortellini perfectly. But before I get into that recipe, let me talk about what is on everybody’s mind.

The Great Grape Debacle: Christmas Eve ’08
The family was all gathered at my parents’ house as we do each year. When I was younger, the focus of the party was on presents. There were a lot of kids in the house and the meal took a backseat to Christmas activities. Now that most of the kids are grown up, the soup has become more of the center of attention at the party. Rumors were abuzz that “something weird” was in one of the tortellini. A few of my relatives read the blog, but no one could remember what it was.

As my mom was prepping the soup, she took out some broth and put it into a separate pot. In this pot she would cook the special bag of 100 tortellini where the grape was located. This would assure that 1. Someone would get it and it wouldn’t be leftovers, and 2. It would not be served to one of the young kids who wouldn’t notice the difference. Just before eating I made a quick announcement. “There is a special game this year with the tortellini, one of them is different. If you get it and can correctly identify what is in it, you win a frozen bag of 100 tortellini!” This really fired everyone up because the tortellini are a big hit and to bring some home would be a big prize. My newly married cousin flew in from Michigan and her husband was eating double-time to win the prize.

Some time passed and the “special” pot began to empty with no one claiming the prize. I made a quick joke “If all of you’re taste buds can’t tell the difference between a normal tortellini and the special one, we are buying them in the freezer section next year!” Sure enough, the pot finished and no one claimed the grape. Where was it? A few people were claiming they had “empty tortellini shells” but then wouldn’t the grape be at the bottom of their bowls or the bottom of the pot? This caused my mom and dad to claim that the grape disintegrated in the boiling water. This one I KNOW is not true because it would take a lot longer than 6 minutes in simmering soup for a grape to disappear. Where are you, grape? The two options that I am considering are that either my mom mistakenly marked the wrong bag, or that someone was chomping down the soup so fast that they didn’t notice. I don’t really think it was the latter, because I mentioned the challenge and the prize was coveted. Also, we didn’t give them to the children and there were no really old people who are losing their taste. What do you guys think? Don’t be too harsh on my mom, I’m just teasing her and it could have happened to anyone. There were over 1000 tortellini on that table! Chime in and let me know where you think that mysterious grape is. I know some people who were there are reading, especially if my mom sends this around to the family, or if Aunt Maryellen is bored at work.

I wanted these carrots in the final soup, so I didn’t put them in the stock base. Instead, I put the tops. Warning: I am fairly new to making chicken broth so don’t be too critical. It came out really good though.

The chicken and the chicken insides are in there too with some salt.

About 10 “sprigs” of parsley, same amount of peppercorns, 2 whole heads of garlic, 6 onions, thumb size of ginger and 8 celery things.

Parmesan rind is also AWESOME in the broth and an oft overlooked ingredient. Barely simmer all this stuff for about 2 hours. Skim the top if you can, but I couldn’t cause of all the stuff in there! But don’t worry, I skimmed later, you’ll see!

After a couple hours, take out the bigger chunks.

Looks kinda gross huh?

Make a neat contraption like this to strain the rest. I did a few batches, then let the broth reduce for awhile, then slowly strained some more and added it when there was room. I basically did this until the amount of liquid reduced by HALF!!! What resulted was the most flavorful chicken broth I have ever had in my life.

“Picking” the chicken off the bones always is an annoying job to me.

I skimmed each time I added more.

Chicken and carrots ready to go into the broth. I also added some pastina, those tiny star pastas.

The coveted bag of tortellini! I guess I got it cause no one won it! Suckers!

This is a big pot of awesome.

Sprinkle of parm on top is really important. Use the good stuff!

Yum yum! Where is the grape? There are still no reports of the grape as some of the leftover tortellini bags are making the rounds. Are they all gone yet, Mom?