Balsamic Vinegar: The Secret Ingredient

December 11, 2015, posted by Gina – This week I went on a search for quick and easy weeknight recipes to make during the busy holiday season. I came across one for homemade chicken tenders and one for tortellini soup. These probably don’t sound so special but they have a secret ingredient that makes them outstanding: Balsamic Vinegar.

A while back I caught an episode of Everyday Italian and Giada De Laurentiis was making crunchy parmesan chicken tenders (click HERE for the recipe). What I really liked about them is that they are baked, not fried, and they are indeed easy to prepare. You soak them in buttermilk and cover them with a combination of bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and then you bake them. But what I wasn’t expecting was the flavor punch the balsamic vinaigrette gives to these. Word to the wise: if you have teenagers or younger children chances are they will still want to eat these with ketchup. My almost 18 year old would not even try the balsamic sauce but he did brag about how good the chicken was. Further, he has a t-shirt that says “I eat ketchup with my ketchup”, so how could I convert him?

Chicken Tenders

The next night I needed to whip up something fast, so I grabbed one of my favorite cookbooks that never disappoints, Tables of Content. I found a recipe for tortellini soup which calls for, you guessed it, balsamic vinegar. My husband absolutely loved this soup and for a recipe that takes just 15 minutes to put together it is a clear winner. I hope you enjoy these as much as we did.


4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used regular chicken broth)
9 ounces fresh chicken tortellini or cheese tortellini (I used cheese)
1 – 15 oz. can cannellini, drained and rinsed. (I just drained them)
1 – 15 oz. can diced Italian-style tomatoes (I used some seasoned with garlic and basil)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (since I found the can of tomatoes seasoned with basil, I omitted this)
1 ¼ tablespoon balsamic vinegar (this is the secret ingredient and oh so good)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Bring the broth to a boil in a stockpot over medium heat and add the pasta. Cook for 4 minutes and stir in the beans and undrained tomatoes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Tortellini Soup

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