Friday, February 15, 2008

Sherry-laced chicken and cheese tortellini soup with spinach and caramelized onions*

2 onions
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
4 teaspoons olive oil
2 chicken breasts
10 whole peppercorns
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup Sherry
2 cups fresh spinach
1 half-pound package of cheese tortellini
Salt and pepper

Rough cut half of one onion, one carrot, and one stalk of celery. In a medium-size pot sauté the onion in one teaspoon of olive oil for about a minute. Add the carrots and celery and sauté for another minute. Add the chicken breasts and cover the contents of the pot by two inches with water. Add peppercorns. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Poach the chicken for twenty minutes skimming any film off the top of poaching liquid.

Caramelize one of the onions in a small frying pan. Cut the onion in half from root to tip, remove the skin, and slice into long thin slices from the root to tip. Cook in 2 teaspoons of olive oil over low heat until dark brown, tossing occasionally to avoid burning. (You will have leftovers, which is a good thing. Toss then in a salad or put them on a sandwich.)

While the chicken is poaching and the onion caramelizing, finely chop the remaining half of the onion, carrot, and celery and mince the garlic. When the chicken is opaque all the way through, remove it from the liquid and set aside to cool. Strain the poaching liquid and discard the vegetables. Set the liquid aside.

Cook tortellini according to package instructions.

Put the pot back on the stove. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and sauté the onion and garlic for about a minute. Add the carrots and celery and sauté for another two minutes. Add the Sherry to deglaze the pan and allow the liquid to evaporate. Add the poaching liquid and season with salt and pepper.

Shred the chicken. Chop spinach. Assemble ingredients in a bowl and pour over hot broth. Garnish with a slice of Parmesan sliced with a vegetable peeler.

* In the post above I used leeks, but in the past I've made this soup with caramelized onions, which are better. Onions have a more intense flavor and get a more beautiful brown color.

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