On our first date, my husband took me to an Italian restaurant that has long since closed its doors. They had an off-menu tomato tortellini soup that I loved. It was thick, creamy, loaded with cheese tortellini, and dotted with fresh basil. Most of all, it was bursting with flavor.
Now that 17 years have passed since that first date and I’m a working mom with two active children, I decided to develop a more robust version of the soup I’d had so many years before.
EASY WEEKNIGHT TORTELLINI SOUP
I wanted this soup to be hearty enough to count as the entire meal and easy enough to make on a weeknight, while also leaving enough left over for lunch the next day. I’m pleased to say for our family of four I clicked all of those boxes!
The foundation of the soup is the same as I remember—thick and creamy, but I added Italian sausage to give it a little heft and some spinach because I’m always trying to add more vegetables to our meals, even if it’s just a little bit here and there.
I love this hearty soup! It’s filling, I’m only using one pot, it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, but can also impress guests, and everyone in the house is completely satisfied.
FRESH, DRIED, OR FROZEN TORTELLINI?
Any tortellini will do! I used frozen because it’s nice to have on hand. I also use cheese tortellini, but I think mushroom tortellini would be delicious in this soup.
Let the soup come to a boil before you add tortellini in any of its forms, then adjust the cooking time according to the package.
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVERS
It’s best to let hot soup cool to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator. I usually let it cool, put the lid on the pot, and pop it in the fridge. You could also transfer it to another container once it cools.
It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days, although the tortellini might puff up a bit and absorb more of the liquid. If you want to save it for dinner down the road, pop it in your freezer and revisit it in three months.
A NOTE ABOUT SUGAR
I added just a little sugar to this soup. If your soup has an acidic edge or bite to it, the sugar will tone that down. The acidity depends on the sweetness of the tomatoes used and how much they concentrate during the cooking.
This soup is made for a quick weeknight meal, not a long, slow Sunday simmer, so the sugar, though only a small amount, plays a big role in balancing flavors.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS SOUP?
Tomato Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage Recipe
- 16 ounces ground mild Italian sausage
- 1/2 large yellow onion, diced small
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup white wine (or substitute chicken stock)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 4 cups chicken stock, store-bought or homemade
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 8 ounces frozen cheese tortellini
- 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
- 8 large fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 Cook the sausage and onion: In a Dutch oven or large soup pot set over medium heat add the sausage, breaking it up as you cook it. This should take about 7 minutes. Once browned, use a slotted spoon to remove from pan to paper towel lined plate.
Leave the fat in the pan and add onion, garlic, and oregano to the pot. Sauté for about 2 minutes, until onions are translucent.
2 Deglaze the pot: Add 1/4 cup white wine (or chicken stock) to the pot to deglaze it (a.k.a. scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom from the sausage). Let the wine reduce by half and the onion soften. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Stir continuously, letting it cook for about 2 minutes.
3 Add tomatoes and stock: Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, and sugar. Stir to combine. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, about 10 minutes.
4 Add tortellini and finish soup: Add the cheese tortellini to the soup. Stir and cook for 10 minutes if using frozen, or until the tortellini is cooked through according to the instructions on the package.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the Italian sausage back into the pot. Add the spinach. Stir to wilt. Add the basil and stir in the heavy cream just before serving.
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