Sunday, January 31, 2021

Cheese Tortellini Alfredo Soup for Cook the Books Dec/Jan Pick: "Eat Joy" and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Today is the deadline for Cook the Books, our virtual food blogger book club. Once again, I am jumping in right under the deadline, even if I am the host! (See my announcement post here) My pick for December/January was the anthology Eat Joy; Stories & Comfort Food From 31 Celebrated Writers which inspired a comforting Cheese Tortellini Alfredo Soup.  

I picked this book because I wanted something to delve in and out of with the busy holiday season and busy work January facing me. Also with all that has gone on over the past year, I find myself wanting to cook and eat comfort food and finding solace in the kitchen. 

It's all about making it through the difficult times as 30 authors talk about what comfort food they make and what inspires them in the kitchen. These literary essays are broken down into Growing Pains, Loss, Healing, and Homecoming, and the authors vary from Lev Grossman to Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche to Anthony Doerr and Claire Messud. Probably one of my favorite essays was from Diana Abu-Jabar, a favorite author of mine, and one we have hosted on Cook the Books which made me want to put Za'atar on everything like my eggs, and the lebeneh she mentions. Mira Jacob's Chai recipe sounded wonderful for a cold day. Lev Grossman of The Magicians Trilogy makes General Tso's Tofu that I will try one of these days.The essays ranged from making me smile to bringing a tear to my eye. Not every essay or recipe is a winner but especially if you like to take little dips into lives and see what people eat, it's a great avenue. 

So, I really wanted to have a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for Carmen Maria Machado's "
You-Are-Ten-and-Tender-and-Can-Only-Make-This-One-Thing and Cheese recipe. But it seemed a bit basic. I actually thought that I took my recipe inspiration from her essay, Meals of My Twenties where she was first out on her own and learned to cook Alfredo sauce from scratch from her friend. I could relate, as my twenties were when I learned from a good friend, that cooking was more than easy ways to put food on the table. In the essay, her friend Sarah made tortellini soup and since I was craving a pasta soup, I put the two together because soup is always my love language and my go-to comfort food. (Added Update: Come to find out this soup living in my brain was actually due to the fact my brain had seen it a couple weeks earlier, when Amy of Amy's Kitchen Adventures made a Chicken Tortellini Alfredo Soup! Yikes! Friends, I blame a crazy amount of book and blog commitments and a crazy work month for me not remembering Amy's post. I only realized what I did when I was tyoing up the Cook the Books recap, three days later. How embarrassing! I apologize to Amy for piggybacking on her idea. It truly was an accident. You can see her delicious Chicken Tortellini Alfredo Soup here.

My soup is meat free but It still has plenty of butter, cheese and coconut milk in place of cream--just as rich, less saturated fat. I made a simple Alfredo sauce (sans nutmeg as I'm not a fan) and stirred it in, but you can fill in with store-bought, just like the cheese tortellini. 

Cheese Tortellini Alfredo Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen Inspired by Amy's Cooking Adventures
(Makes 5-6 Servings)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped 
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground oregano 
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups veggie stock
sea salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 cups cream or coconut milk
2 Cups Homemade Alfredo Sauce (see recipe below) or good jarred Alfredo
1 lb fresh cheese tortellini
2 cups baby spinach, packed 
Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves to serve

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrot and celery. Saute until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and spices and cook another couple of minutes. Sprinkle the four over the vegetables and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to remove floury taste. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 10 minutes, until broth thickens. 

Add the coconut milk or cream, and the Homemade Alfredo Sauce. Bring to a simmer and stir in the tortellini and spinach. Cook for 5-7 minutes until tortellini is al dente. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Ladle into bowls and serve with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Enjoy.


Homemade Alfredo Sauce
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen 
(Makes about 2 Cups)

2 cups cream or coconut milk
1/4 cup butter sliced into pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and black pepper to taste

Combine cream and butter in a large pan and heat over medium heat. Heat until butter melts and cream is hot but not boiling. Add Parmesan and mix well, cooking over low heat until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside to use in soup

Notes/Results: Creamy and rich and very satisfying, a soup for the stomach and the soul. I won't argue that its the healthiest soup out there but it is certainly worth the indulgence. If you don't want to make the Alfredo sauce, a good store-bought one from the refrigerated section on your local grocery will work. Either way, it's an easy soup that tastes great and I would happily make it again. Note: If you missed it above, I just realized that this soup idea must have stuck in my head from the Chicken Tortellini Alfredo Soup submitted by Amy's Cooking Adventures earlier in the month.

I'll be rounding up the entries for Cook the Books on the website in a day or two. If you missed this round and you like books and food and foodie books, join us for our Feb/March pick, Where I Come From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef by Aaron Sanchez, hosted by Claudia of Honey from Rock. 

Let's see who is in the Souper Sundays Kitchen this week:

Crafty Gardener is here with Yummy Beef Casserole. She says, "This can be cooked in the crockpot or the oven. Today I just made enough for one meal so the crockpot is my choice. The kitchen will be filled with delicious smells of the cooking stew and I can say it took me all day to cook this meal!"

Debra of Eliot's Eats brings Alice Hoffman's Potato Soup this week, made from another book edited by Natalie Garret that she read by mistake--or maybe happy coincidence! She says, "I added the bacon and milk to the recipe. ...based on Alice Hoffman's 'My Grandmother's Recipe for Life." ... If you want to continue waxing poetic and embracing nostalgia, then I would send you over to my own family’s potato soup recipe: Okie Peasant Potato Soup.

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen shared a salad of Lemon Orzo with Broccoli Florets, saying "This Lemon Orzo with Broccoli was made early this week for lunch in between work and I am glad for days, when lunch is prepped and ready to go.   The citrus piquancy that had infused the orzo and the  broccoli was appreciated by D as he does like lemons.  There's also a little sweetness from the sundried tomatoes and a scattering of toasted pumpkin seeds."

Thank you to everyone for joining me this week!
(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. Deb, you are much too hard on yourself. All recipes are just a guideline and you made Amy's recipe your own. I am sure Amy is very flattered that her lovely soup stuck in your mind...imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Thanks for hosting.

  2. SO lovely and it's funny to be able to pinpoint inspiration when it hits you in the face, right? Both yours and Amy's look delicious. Thanks for hosting. I thoroughly enjoyed this much so that I bought several copies as Christmas gifts.

  3. No worries Deb, yours is quite different. Looks like there's some spaghetti in there as well? At any rate, it does sound delicious.

  4. Loved that Za'atar essay as well and I HAVE been putting it on everything. (Try it on a flatbread mixed with a little olive oil and topped with tomatoes and feta...I will probably have to post that soon.)

    Thanks for hosting this book and making me aware of both Eat Joy and The Artists' and Writers' Cookbook!

  5. It's good to see this dish even twice. Nice job with the recipe and enjoyed your comments on starting to cook in the 20's. I was in the kitchen since a little girl absorbing their cooking and never left.

  6. Such a good looking, meat free and substantial soup.I'd love to read the book, but only if i can find it at the library, when i am able to visit. As much as i like reading, I can't afford any more books at the moment sadly; and have to make time for those already on my bookshelf. But it really does sound like a wonderful book.

  7. The soup looks so rich: somehow it made me think of dinner after a day skiing (which I realized is not your environment ;)

  8. I love the use of coconut milk to make this creamy soup and can understand how you attached memories of pasta soup during your twenties prompted you to make this one. I would love to try this soup as I love coconut. Thanks for hosting!

  9. I love your version of tortellini soup! It looks fabulous!

  10. PS - I don't think you copied at all! I love when we can get inspired from a variety of sources!


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