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Tortellini Soup with Prosciutto and Spinach

Mary Anne here. My generation got to enjoy the very first super-warehouse grocery stores like Sam’s and Costco. Actually, Costco was initially dubbed Price Club so I still find myself calling it that.  But the point is, I began to love a chore I had always hated – grocery shopping. The aisles brimmed with all kinds of things I didn’t even know I needed and at such bargain-basement prices! I’d walk in and drop a couple hundred bucks and then STILL have to hit the A&P. But after the novelty wore off, I settled down and learned how to take advantage of buying in bulk without breaking the bank.

And what in the world does all that have to do with this soup? The original version of my potage was borne of the Costco aisles. When the family was still all under one roof, finding easy meals that pleased the whole crew was beyond challenging. One thing we always agreed on was soup. I used to buy broth in bulk and then add frozen Asian wontons along with some spinach and shredded chicken – a sort of ersatz Won Ton soup – and it’d be paired with croissants smeared with Boursin cheese.

This Tortellini soup is a version of that old family favorite, but since I don’t need to buy 5 pounds of frozen wontons anymore, I figured pasta and prosciutto would make for a grown-up friendly base. Simple and quick to prepare, this dish can get to your table in under 45 minutes!

Tortellini Soup with Prosciutto and Spinach
Serves 10

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons best-quality olive oil – stock
¼ slab prosciutto de Parma(the deli person can cut this), cut into small dice – $2.79
3 large shallots ( a heaping ½ cup), finely diced – $0.98
4 green onions (scallions), white and green parts chopped – $0.99
2 cloves garlic, minced – stock
1 Teaspoon each dried oregano and dried basil – stock
¼ Teaspoon red pepper flakes – stock
12 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock – $7.50 (if using packaged)
4-5 cups (about ¼ lb.) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped – $1.69
14 oz. bag frozen cheese tortellini – $2.99
grated Asiago or parmesan cheese – stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry and using store-bought broth: $16.94
Total Per Serving: $1.69

Directions:
1. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot, over medium-high flame. Sauté the prosciutto until beginning to brown, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the shallots, scallions, garlic, dried herbs, and red pepper flakes. Continue sautéing an additional 5 minutes or until the shallots are golden.

3. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the tortellini and simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 4 minutes.

4. Toss in the chopped spinach and simmer until wilted, about 3 or 4 minutes. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.

5. Serve with freshly grated cheese, if desired.