This sausage tortellini soup recipe is made in one pot and ready in 30 minutes! The stuffed cheese pasta simmers in a creamy tomato soup with healthy vegetables and hearty meat for a satisfying meal.
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Tortellini soup is the perfect comfort food, especially on a chilly day. This is one of my favorite one-pot recipes. Each bowl is packed with pasta, protein, and vegetables for a satisfying appetizer or entree. Don’t forget to bake up some toasty garlic bread for dipping!
The soup is a simple yet delicious creamy tomato base. You add the tortellini straight into the liquid to simmer. No need for extra pots to clean! Add freshly chopped kale and spinach leaves to make each serving more nutritious.
- Sausage: You’ll need one pound of mild, medium, or spicy Italian sausage. Remove it from the casing so it cooks and breaks down into smaller pieces. Pre-cooked and diced sausage can be used instead.
- Olive oil: Use high-quality olive oil to cook the sausage and add flavor.
- Vegetables: Diced onions and minced garlic add a savory allium taste. Chopped kale and spinach add healthy fiber and nutrients to each serving.
- Herbs & Seasonings: Freshly sliced basil and dried Italian seasoning add an herbaceous flavor to the soup base. Crushed red pepper flakes add a lingering heat if you enjoy a hint of spiciness. Salt and pepper enhance the sweet tomatoes and savory ingredients.
- Tomatoes: Use canned tomatoes. I recommend San Marzano for its sweet flavor and low acidity.
- Dairy: Heavy cream makes the tortellini soup base creamy. Shaved parmesan cheese is used for garnish to bump up the umami notes.
- Stock: Chicken stock or broth adds body and dimension, compared to using water to cook the pasta. Beef broth or vegetable broth are good substitutes.
- Pasta: Use stuffed cheese tortellini pasta. They can be refrigerated tortellini or frozen, requiring additional cooking time.
Cook the sausage
Raw Italian sausage is sold in casings as links or in bulk without the casing. I use pork sausage, but you can use chicken or beef if desired. If you like a spicier taste, use medium or spicy sausage. Remove the casing from the meat, then add it to a Dutch oven or large pot with hot olive oil.
Brown the sausage and break up the meat while still raw with a spoon into smaller bite-sized pieces. There will be a lot of drippings in the pan that will flavor the soup. Leave about 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat not to taste too greasy.
Cook the alliums
A classic Italian dish uses allium, like diced onions and garlic, to add dimension to the recipe. Saute the diced yellow onion until no longer sulfurous in aroma. This will bring out its natural sweetness.
Briefly saute the minced garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes for a lingering heat. Adding the spices to the fat will help to extract more fat-soluble flavors and spicy capsicum for a more intensified taste.
Simmer the soup
To make the soup base, add crushed tomatoes and chicken stock. The savory flavors will infuse into the pasta for a better taste. Simmer with the sausage, aromatics, and herbs over low heat for about 15 minutes. This will allow more time for the flavors to gently merry together.
Cook the pasta and vegetables
To make this a one-pot pasta meal, I’ve developed the recipe with enough liquid to cook the tortellini in the same vessel. Refrigerated tortelli cooks very quickly, about 5 minutes.
The starches released from the pasta dough will also help to thicken the soup. When the pasta is just before al dente, stir in the kale and spinach. The leaves will wilt down quickly in the hot soup.
Add the cream
To make a creamy tortellini soup, stir in heavy cream. The dairy product contains no less than 36% milkfat, adding richness to the soup. Add the cream with the heat off so that it does not curdle.
This is not a super thick soup base like a chowder. It will have a light creamy consistency that does not overpower the tomato flavor. Top each bowl with slices of fresh basil and salty parmesan cheese.
Now that you’ve learned how to make tortellini soup, you can change the flavor! Try these delicious ways to customize your next batch:
- Pasta: Try tortellini with different fillings like pork or spinach. Use stuffed types of pasta like ravioli or agnolotti. Gnocchi potato dumplings are delicious, or traditional tubular or shaped pasta like penne or farfalle.
- Meat: Cooked sausage can be used; slice or dice and saute to brown the surface. Ground beef, turkey, or chicken can be substituted. Add shredded chicken to the soup at the end of cooking to warm.
- Vegetables: Add diced tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, or corn.
- Dairy: Instead of heavy cream, add creme fraiche, sour cream, cream cheese, or plain Greek yogurt. Use coconut cream for a dairy-free soup base.
- Garlic bread
- Rosemary focaccia
- Classic Caesar salad
- Chicken parmesan
- Meat lasagna
- Spaghetti and meatballs
Frequently asked questions
Simmer the pasta in a savory tomato soup base for the most flavorful tortellini soup. Browned sausage, sauteed onions and garlic, and Italian herbs season the dish. Vegetables like kale and spinach make it a more nutritious meal. Add heavy cream to add a velvety texture.
Yes! Cool the soup down to room temperature. Add into heavy-duty freezer bags and lay flat or portion into individual containers—Defrost before using. Freeze the soup for up to 1 month. The pasta will be softer after reheating.
No, you don’t have to add the cream if you prefer a less creamy consistency. It will have a more robust tomato flavor.
What is the best way to use dried herbs in Italian recipes?
I always have dried thyme, basil, and oregano on hand as I make a lot of Italian soups and sauces. Buy dried herbs in small amounts and use them within a year. Before adding them to your dish, crush them in your palm by rubbing them gently with your fingers to release the aromatic oils. They release the most flavor when cooked in oil to solubilize the fat-soluble flavor compounds, so wait to add any liquid! Typically 1 teaspoon of dried herbs equals 3 teaspoons of cut fresh herbs.
Tortellini Soup with Italian Sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed
- ½ cup diced yellow onion, ¼" dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes, optional
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes, San Marzano recommended
- 3 cups chicken stock, or broth
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 9 ounces cheese tortellini
- 2 cups chopped kale, curly or Tuscan, ¼" strips
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons sliced basil
- ¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese
- Cook the Sausage – In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking it into smaller pieces. Stir until the meat is browned and fully cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the excess grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon of drippings.
- Cook the Alliums – Add the onion, saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes (if using), and saute for 30 seconds.
- Simmer the Soup – Stir in the tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce to a simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
- Cook the Pasta – Increase the heat to medium-low, add the tortellini, and cook until al dente, 4 to 6 minutes.
- Add the Vegetables – Add the kale and spinach, stir, and cook until the leaves are wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the Cream – Turn off the heat and stir in the cream, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
- To Serve – Transfer soup to serving bowls and top with basil and Parmesan cheese.
- Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freeze: Cool and freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost before using.
- Reheating: Add the soup to a pot, reheating over medium-low heat on the stovetop until hot.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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