The first time I invited my in-laws over for dinner, I didn’t know what to cook. The times we had eaten together, my mother-in-law would be the one to pick the cuisine and location, and each time it would be Chinese. There were times I would have to decline family dinner invitations because I just couldn’t handle anymore mapo tofu, bok choy, or seafood soup. Kind of ironic, considering I grew up eating Chinese food…guess it was too much of a good thing. This had me worried, as it was the first time the in-laws were coming over for a meal, and there are very few Chinese dishes I can make well…and they weren’t the impressive dishes. More like college-style fried rice, mapo tofu, and green beans. Ghetto! After conferring with Hubs, it seemed that Italian would probably be okay, as my father-in-law likes Italian and likes to try different food. I ended up making Spaghetti with Pinot Grigio and Seafood, garlic bread, and this soup. Everything were a hit and there were no leftovers. I even got a compliment from my father-in-law. Phew!
In case you’ve noticed a trend with the Italian recipes I’m using…Everyday Italian is one of my favorite cooking shows on Food Network, and I recently bought one of Giada De Laurentiis’ cookbooks. When I’m in the mood to try a new Italian dish, beyond spaghetti and meatballs, I’ll reach for this cookbook. Happily, all the recipes I’ve tried so far have turned out quite well.
Italian White Bean, Pancetta and Tortellini Soup, adapted from Everyday Pasta (by Giada De Laurentiis)
3 T. olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 c. arugula, washed
6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 9-ounce package cheese tortellini, fresh or frozen
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta, onion, carrot and garlic. Cook until the pancetta is crisp, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans, arugula, and broth.
Bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to the heat to a simmer. Add the tortellini and cook 5 minutes for fresh, 8 minutes for frozen, or until just tender. Season with pepper and serve.
Serves 4 to 6.