Wednesday, February 01, 2012

It's that time again...

Back to school time, that is. I've had a month off, and I managed to see most of the Oscar nominees, so I am ready for the new semester to begin. It just kills me that it always has to start with an opening day session at the CRACK OF DAWN after keeping some obscenely late hours over winter break. The one bright spot in the day was when lunch was provided for us, and they served this delicious, creamy chicken soup with tortellini in it. I complimented the Sodexho staff and asked them for the recipe, but I was told that they couldn't give it out. This is very humorous, as I don't think anyone has ever asked for a food service recipe in the course of human history, and then they are too high-falutin' to share? Whatevs. So I made my own version--in the crock pot, of course, as I am back to work and already harried. Naturally, mine turned out better, and unlike Sodexho, I am happy to share my recipe with you.

Crock Pot Creamy Chicken Tortellini Chowder

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano*
1 teaspoon dried basil*
1 teaspoon dried parsley*
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme*
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary*
(*Or use a generous tablespoon Italian seasoning instead)
1 large bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon chicken soup base (I like Better Than Bouillion)
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
2 cans cream of chicken soup (or one could be cream of celery)
1 lb. frozen cheese tortellini (spinach would be prettier!)
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup corn starch, optional

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and saute the onions, celery, and carrots until the onions are translucent, about ten minutes. Add the minced garlic and seasonings and cook for another minute or two. Place this mixture in the bowl of a crock pot, pour in the chicken stock, stir in the chicken soup base, and the pieces of chicken. Cook for three hours on high (or perhaps six on low?).

Stir in the two cans of soup, and then add the frozen tortellini. Cook for another hour on high (two on low?) until the tortellini is cooked through and tender. Remove the bay leaf, and stir in the sour cream. You can serve it as soup at this point, or you may thicken it further for a chowder. Whisk together corn starch and a couple of cups of the soup broth ladled from the crock pot in a small sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until bubbling and thick. Stir back into the crock pot until everything is blended together, then serve.

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