One of the first things I learned how to make for myself to eat (besides a bowl of cereal) was tortellini soup. My older sister Susan made it often for dinner, and she showed me how simple and easy it was to throw together on a weeknight using a bag of frozen tortellini. I went into my junior year of college empowered with this new skill, and often made a batch for my friends and roommates, thinking I’d reached the pinnacle of domesticity.
Fast forward many years, including a formal culinary education, I still make the same soup for my family at least once a week during the fall and winter. As a mom of two picky boys, the meals we can all agree on are few and far between, so it’s a big deal that they like it. (Motherhood has a special way of humbling you.)
Although my youngest would prefer snacking on Play-Doh to the celery or carrots in this soup, he will eat the tortellini and I’m left with just one pot to clean. A definitive win.
An Easy Weeknight Soup
While the bones of this soup have stayed the same throughout the years, I’ve elevated it by using homemade stock when I have it. That said, I often reach for boxed stock and the soup is still great.
The gist of the recipe is to take some aromatics and vegetables and sauté them in olive oil. Add some spices; I like to bloom crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning in the olive oil to build some flavor. If you can get your hands on it, Trader Joe’s sells an Italian Style Soffritto Seasoning Blend that is perfect for this soup.
Once the stock is added, season your soup like you mean it. I also like to toss in a Parmesan for added umami goodness. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes, then toss in the frozen tortellini and cook according to the package directions. And just like that, dinner is served.
How To Make 30-Minute Tortellini Soup
To make six servings, you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 large carrots, sliced
- 3 celery stalks, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 small (2-inch) Parmesan rind, waxed scraped (optional)
- 1 pound fresh or frozen cheese tortellini (I like the Kirkland Signature 5 Cheese Tortelloni)
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the garlic, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, or until you begin to smell the garlic and spices. Add the chicken stock, Parmesan rind (if using), and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the tortellini and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Remove the Parmesan rind and check the soup for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
3 Ways to Customize This Soup Recipe
- If you want a little more protein, add a can of drained chickpeas when you add the stock.
- Have children that will actually eat green vegetables? Add some baby kale or spinach after the tortellini is al dente and cook just until wilted.
- Try adding some tomato paste right before you add the stock and swap half of the stock for a (28-ounce) can of tomato purée. Finish the whole thing with a splash of heavy cream for a cozy tomato-based soup.