Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Italian Tortellini Soup

Every December, you will see Salvation Army in front of shopping areas to collect donations for the needy. 

It’s a sad reminder that not everyone has a roof or food on the table, much less gifts under the tree.

The red collection kettles, which represent soup pots, have been tradition since 1891. According to the Salvation Army, that Joseph Mcfee  had an idea to fund Christmas dinner for the destitute in San Francisco. Thinking about his sailor days, McFee thought of the port in Liverpool, where passersby would toss coins for the poor into a kettle called “Simpson’s Pot.” He put out a similar pot by the Oakland ferry landing on Market Street, along with a sign reading, “Keep the pot boiling,” and soon had enough to feed 1,000 people dinner.

The soup kettle was the symbol for feeding the poor. Soup has always been one of the most economical ways to provide nourishing, filling food to a large quantity of people. Although he was hardly the first person to come up with the idea to feed the poor, an interesting fellow known as Count Rumford is often credited with establishing the first real soup kitchen.

Born Benjamin Thompson in Woburn, Massachusetts, in 1753, he fled to Britain during the American Revolution, having been accused of being loyal to the crown. He went on to have a brilliant career as a scientist, social reformer and inventor. His work for the Bavarian government earned him the title of Count of the Holy Roman Empire, and he chose Rumford, the New Hampshire town where he lived for a time, as the place he was from (the full name was Benjamin Count von Rumford).

His largest project might have been his plan to rid Munich of its beggar problem by feeding and employing the poor. According to the handbook he wrote for the citied to emulate “mendacity was epidemic there. “These detestable vermin swarmed everywhere, “ he wrote. He was speaking specifically of those able bodied cadgers would send out scuffed up children to prey on public sympathy, and who had developed and elaborate system of mooching food from merchants, which they would then sell to other shopkeepers at a profit.

He sent troops to roust the beggars, Rumford established workhouses, where poor people, including children, were employed to make military uniforms. Those who were too weak, sick, young or awkward to do more strenuous work were given the easier tasks of carding wool or spooling yarn. The youngest children were to sit in chairs in the workroom, where they would be enticed by boredom to prefer work. Children attended an on premises school before and after work and, Rumford noted, were also given the opportunity to play.

“At the dinner time,” Rumford wrote, “a large bell was rung in the court, when those at work in the different parts of the building were sent to the dining hall; where they found a wholesome and nourishing repast.” This consisted of “a soup of peas and barley, mixed with cuttings of fine white bread; and a piece of excellent rye bread, weighing seven
ounces, which last they commonly put in their pockets, and carried home for their supper.”

Rumford was also an early proponent of the potato as good, cheap and filling food, though this New World ingredient was still viewed with suspicion by many Europeans.

Some of his methods (like child labor) wouldn’t necessarily mesh with today’s sensibilities, the basic concept of Rumford’s program set the groundwork for the last century’s soup kitchens. And through his many scientific innovations, he developed tools that improved cooking for everyone, poor or not, including the cast-iron Rumford stove (the first commercially available kitchen range), which kept in heat and allowed temperature to be regulated better than on an open hearth; a pressure cooker (though not necessarily the first one); and a drip coffee maker.

The item bearing Rumford’s name that is probably most familiar to cooks today wasn’t actually his invention, a brand of baking powder was named in his honor. 
Research Source: Smithsonian

This meat and cheese filled tortellini is stick to your ribs soup.

Italian Tortellini Soup
Copyrighted 2013, Christine’s Pantry. All rights reserved.

5 cups chicken broth
2 (9 oz.) packages refrigerated Italian Sausage Parmesan cheese filled tortellini
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt, to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
green onions, garnish

In large pot over medium heat, add olive oil, onions, salt and crushed red pepper. Cook about 3 to 5 minutes, until tender.

Add broth and bring to boil. Add tortellini, diced tomatoes, garlic and Italian seasoning, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with green onions. Enjoy!


  1. What a perfect cold weather dinner, Christine!

  2. Your blog about Italian food is really awesome. I like various cuisine food very much. I like Italian culture, tradition, italian food etc . Last summer I have visited Italy as well as I have visited Italian restaurant. I like prefer to eat Italian Tortellini Soup. It's taste is awesome. I have enjoyed Italian food very much.


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