Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup is a quick weeknight meal containing spinach (barely wilted) and tortellini (hence the name).  The recipe uses store-bought chicken broth, but the flavor is punched up with sauteed onions, mushrooms and spices.  This soup tastes like it has cooked all afternoon, but it takes less than an hour to prepare. 

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The ingredients — onion, mushrooms, garlic, chicken broth, bay leaves, thyme and tortellini.  We garnish the final soup with some parmesan cheese, which always makes everything just a little better.

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We had half of a red onion left over from last night, but you can use any type of onion.

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We also use mushrooms in our Tortellini Soup, but you can omit them if you’re not a fan of fungi.  Tonight we used “baby bella” mushrooms.  Cute name – yummy ‘shroom.

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Saute the onion for about five minutes, until the onion starts to turn brown.

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Stir in the mushrooms and saute for another few minutes.

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When the mushrooms start to release their juices and get shiny, it’s time to add the broth.  The recipe calls for chicken broth, but if you want this dish to be vegetarian, you can substitute vegetable broth.

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Add the bay leaves and thyme, increase heat until the broth boils, and simmer for ten minutes or so to allow the flavors to come together.

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While the broth simmers, rinse and dry about two cups of spinach. We used the packaged baby spinach tonight, but we prefer to use the fresh bunch spinach if it’s available.  De-stem the spinach (exactly like it sounds – pull off the stems from the leaves) and tear the leaves into big pieces for wilting.  Baby spinach is probably already about the right size for wilting, but do pull off the stems.  We use a salad spinner for washing/drying – very handy!

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After the broth has simmered, add the tortellini.

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Cook the the tortellini in the flavored broth according to the package directions.  As the tortellini expands, you can tell it’s almost done.

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Once the pasta is done, fish out the bay leaves, turn off the heat, and add the spinach.  Stir and cover for only 30 seconds, and you’re ready to eat.  The trick is to barely wilt the spinach – you don’t want it to taste like cooked spinach, which would be really gross in soup.

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Garnish with a few turns of freshly ground black pepper and some parmesan cheese.  We serve the soup with some croutons / focaccia crisps / crunchy bread things (technical term), good for dipping in the broth.

Tortellini Soup


  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 6-7 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 package fresh tortellini
  • 2-3 cups of fresh spinach, well rinsed and drained
  • prepared croutons / focaccia crisps / bread of choice
  • Parmesan cheese

Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown.  Add the mushrooms and cook another few minutes, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices.  Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so.  Add the chicken broth, thyme and bay leaves.   Cover and increase heat to high until the broth begins to boil, then return the burner to medium-high heat.  Boil gently, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Add the tortellini to the boiling chicken broth and cook as directed on the tortellini package.  Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to taste.

Turn off the burner, add the spinach to the broth, stir, and cover for 30 seconds.  Remove the bay leaves and serve the soup garnished with croutons, parmesan and a few turns of freshly ground pepper.

(We adapted this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best 30-Minute Recipe.  This is an excellent cookbook and contains great, quick recipes – perfect for busy weeknights.)

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7 thoughts on “Tortellini Soup

  1. Kelly- your recipes and pictures are wonderful!! I can’t wait for cooler weather to try this one out!! Can’t wait to see all the other wonderful recipes and photos you have to share!!

    1. Hi Jenny! I don’t believe we’ve ever tried this soup as a leftover, but I don’t think the spinach would hold up that well re-heated. Probably the best way to get leftovers would be to portion out the amount of soup you want to save before adding the spinach. Then re-heat the leftover soup, add fresh spinach and you should be good to go. Another option would be to portion out the first serving of the soup into individual bowl(s), then add spinach to each bowl (it should still wilt fine in the individual portions.) That way there’s no wilted spinach in whatever is left in the pot to save. Hope that helps!

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