This Tuscan Tortellini Soup is a perfect example of healthy cooking: lots of vegetables, low meat content, and real ingredients. You can argue that sausage and cheese tortellini aren’t health foods, and you’d be right. But a small amount of decadent ingredients can take your dish from something you’re not excited about eating, to one you slurp up and can’t wait to make again.
Tuscan Tortellini Soup is kid-friendly and perfect for those fall nights when everyone is going to sports practice at different times, and for the love of god you just need them to sit down and eat something. Have this soup waiting on the stove. Then serve a bowl with a hunk of baguette as each family member arrives home starving. Pack up any leftovers in a thermos for school or work lunches the next day. Total parenting win.
How to make Tuscan Tortellini Soup
This tortellini soup recipe is simple to make, though it benefits from some simmer time on the stove. To begin, take your sausage out of its casing, and crumble it. I use Italian sausage for this recipe. Both mild and spicy versions are delicious, depending on your family's spice preference. Sauté the sausage in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking up large chunks with a wooden spoon. When cooked through and browned, about 5 minutes, add 1 T. olive oil, then onions and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables soften and brown lightly. Add garlic and oregano or Italian seasoning and cook for an additional minute.
Why cook your vegetables before adding liquid to your soup? Cooking the pork and vegetables in just a bit of oil allows them to brown as they soften. This develops a depth of flavor you don’t get if you just heat the broth and dump in the uncooked vegetables. Also, note that adding the garlic after the other vegetables prevents it from burning, which can happen if it is sautéed for too long without liquid.
Next, add canned diced tomatoes (no need to drain) and chicken broth, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 15 min. This allows the flavors to meld together without turning your tortellini into mush. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Add tortellini and white beans, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until tortellini is tender. If you are using dried or frozen tortellini, your tortellini may take longer to cook. Consult the tortellini package so you know how long it needs to cook. Add spinach, and stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Serve with parmesan cheese grated on top as a garnish.
Interesting side note—ever wonder how tortellini was invented? According to an Italian legend, a tavern owner once rented a room to the goddess Venus. He peered through the keyhole of her bedroom, but all he could see was Venus's navel. This so captivated him that he created the tortellini in its shape. Who knew?!
Ingredient Swaps for Tortellini Soup
This tortellini soup recipe is very flexible with ingredients. If you want to go meatless, leave out the sausage and switch to vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. If you’d like to use a different kind of meat, replace the pork sausage with chicken sausage. Or shred a rotisserie chicken and put that in instead. Parisian readers, Italian sausage is not as prevalent in grocery stores as it is in the United States. However, I found a package of "chipolatas," which is pork mixed with herbs and spices, at an organic grocery store.
Spinach is also optional, and can easily be replaced with kale, collard greens, or swiss chard. (Just either shred them finely or add them earlier since they will need more time to cook than baby spinach.) Finally, you can substitute other types of pasta, like ravioli or pasta shells for the tortellini. Or even replace it with rice, although then I don't think you can really call it Tortellini Soup. ?
Can I make Tuscan Tortellini Soup in advance?
Yes, but tortellini pasta will continue to cook and absorb liquid as it sits in the soup. Waiting to add the tortellini until you are a few minutes away from eating is your best approach. Make the base of the soup and let simmer covered on very low heat on the stove for as long as you like. Then pop in the tortellinis a few minutes before you are ready to serve. Adding them at the last minute will prevent mushy pasta.
What to serve with Tuscan Tortellini Soup
You can’t go wrong with with a crusty baguette or some slices of buttered sourdough bread to go with this soup. Garlic bread is also a strong pairing. If you want to go healthier though, this soup is delicious with a big kale salad. Try this one: toss slivered kale with minced garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and a little olive oil.
How long will Tuscan Tortellini Soup keep?
As mentioned above, tortellini will absorb liquid and become somewhat mushy if you leave it in the soup for hours. If you have leftover soup, I would recommend removing the tortellini before you put it in the fridge. The soup will then keep for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. When you're ready to eat it again, reheat it on the stovetop. Then add new tortellini (or a different pasta or rice) when the soup is simmering, and cook until tender. The nice part about this soup, as with many soups and stews, is that the broth will become even more flavorful the next day. And if you do refrigerate it with the tortellinis in there, it's still quite delicious—you will just find that the pasta is about twice as big as the night before!
Can I freeze this soup?
The same advice goes for freezing this soup. For best results, freeze it without the tortellini, then add them in after you have defrosted and then reheated the soup.
If you enjoyed this soup recipe, you might also want to try some of my favorite warming dinners for chilly nights:
- Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup
- Creamy Orzo Chicken with Red Peppers and Mushrooms
- Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Zucchini
- Easy Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
- 8 oz. Italian pork sausage, mild or spicy
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 t. dried oregano, or Italian seasoning
- 1 14.5 oz. can low-sodium diced tomatoes
- 8 c. low-sodium chicken broth
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 9 oz. package refrigerated cheese tortellini
- 1 can low-sodium white beans, drained and rinsed
- 5 oz. baby spinach
- grated parmesan cheese, for serving
- Take sausage out of its casing, and crumble it. Then saute sausage in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking up large chunks with a wooden spoon.
- When cooked through and browned, about 5 minutes, add 1 T. olive oil, then chopped onions and carrots.
- Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables soften and brown lightly.
- Add garlic and oregano and cook for an additional minute.
- Add tomatoes and chicken broth, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently for 15 min.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add tortellini and white beans, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until tortellini is tender.
- Add spinach, and stir until wilted, about 1 minute.
- Serve with parmesan cheese grated on top as a garnish.
Tortellini have different cooking times, especially if you use frozen or dried tortellini. Use the cooking instructions on your package.
Soup can be refrigerated for 3-5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. However, I recommend you take out any remaining tortellini when you refrigerate or freeze. Otherwise, the tortellini will absorb more liquid and become mushy. Add new tortellini, other pasta, or rice after reheating the soup.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 430Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 712mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 7gSugar: 5gProtein: 26g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.