Plump tortellini and spicy Italian sausage floating in a rich, luxurious broth, this quick and easy tortellini soup is one of the coziest meals we’ve ever made!
Tender pasta in a slightly spicy, very slurpable broth. We need more of this in our lives. Especially during these cooler months of the year!
We have a particular affinity for this recipe because it came to us in a time of desperation, as we stared blankly at a bunch of half-used ingredients in the refrigerator at 6:30 pm. But then we saw the connections…the sausage, the onion, the kale, the broth, and in a flash, it all came together. Since then it has quickly become perhaps our favorite meal of the season.
It also is an absolute killer camping meal. We recently made this on a fall camping trip and it was just too perfect. The cool autumn air mixing with warm fragrance rising off the spicy broth… Amazing.
The recipe features a very simple ingredients list, true one-pot preparation, less than 30 minute cook time, and just a tremendous amount of flavor. If you want some major production value with a minimal amount of work, this recipe is your ticket. Your campmates will love you!
Why We Love It
- This soup is the definition of cozy camp comfort food. So satisfying.
- Hearty enough to be a dinner, quick enough to be a minimal effort lunch
- No need to drain the pasta. It’s supposed to be brothy!
- All you need is a pot (or a deep skillet) and a single burner.
- Super versatile ingredient list. Can be made vegetarian or vegan with substitutions.
If you are looking for a cool-weather comfort meal to make on your next camping trip, this Sausage and Tortellini Soup is for you!
Tortellini: We recommend getting store-bought fresh tortellini (you can find this in the refrigerated section of the grocery store). We used cheese-filled, but you can use whichever type you prefer. You’ll have to store these in your cooler, but the taste, texture, and cook time are so much better than the dried tortellini.
Italian Sausage: We used uncooked spicy Italian sausages from Trader Joe’s for this recipe. We enjoy this type of soup to be spicy, but if you don’t, then you can use sweet Italian sausage instead. If you’d like a vegan alternative, Beyond Meat makes a great spicy Italian sausage that’s every bit as good as the pork version.
Onion: Somewhere between a chop to dice. The pieces should be able to fit on a spoon.
Garlic: We think that this recipe is best with slightly larger pieces of garlic—peel a clove, smash it with the flat side of a knife, give it one or two chops, and toss it in with onions. It will soften and brown, and turn into a creamy delicious morsel that will delight you.
Kale: Tuscan, dino, Lacinato, whatever you want to call it…the good kale. (Not that curly-cue, chopped bag-full stems Trader Joe’s has.) Get the full leaves, remove the stems, and chop them into bite-sized pieces.
Spices: Garlic powder, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes— this power trio offers a lot of dynamic flavors. You can adjust these, particularly the red pepper, to your personal taste. You can measure these out at home and put them in a small container so you don’t have to bring your entire spice rack out to the campsite
Broth: This is also a matter of personal preference—vegetable, chicken, or beef all work. Try to get the type in a resealable carton – as they are much easier to portion out at the campsite and store leftovers.
Bonus Toppings: Ideas include freshly grated parmesan cheese, a drizzle of nice olive oil, a crack of fresh pepper, or a splash of red wine vinegar. Or perhaps some crusty bread for dipping.
Tips for making tortellini soup
- Use store-bought fresh tortellini instead of dried tortellini—the taste is so much better!
- Cook the tortellini a little on the al dente side. They will continue to soften with the carry-over heat from the broth.
- The tortellini increases in size roughly by half when cooked, so be aware of that and don’t accidentally overload the pot.
- If you do a bunch of cool-weather camping, consider investing in these insulated bowls. Mealtime is so much more enjoyable when you can take your time without your meal going cold.
- Making this meal for kids? Or people who don’t like spicy food? Use sweet Italian sausage and omit the red pepper flakes when preparing the soup. You can also add red pepper flakes to your own individual portion, once you’ve divided the soup into bowls.
How to make tortellini soup, step-by-step
Start off by prepping your ingredients and set aside. Dice the onions, smash the garlic, and de-stem and chop the kale.
Next, heat some cooking oil in a pot over medium heat and add the onions, garlic, and salt. If you are using uncooked sausage you can crumble it into the pot now as well. Using a spatula, break the sausage into small pieces.
If you are using pre-cooked sausage, cut it into half-moons and then add it when the onions start to turn translucent.
Continue to cook over medium heat until the onions start to brown and the pork is fully cooked. Add in the spices and stir to combine, followed by the kale. If you’re cooking for people who don’t like spicy food, dial back or omit the red pepper flakes entirely.
Once the kale starts to cook down (a minute or two), add the tortellini to the pot followed by enough broth to cover. We like to add the tortellini first, then the broth, so we know how much broth to add.
Want it soupier? Add more broth. Want it to be more of a pasta dish? Add less broth. It’s super versatile. So long as the tortellini is covered (or nearly covered), it will cook properly so long as you stir every so often.
Stir to make sure everything is evenly incorporated, and then bring to a simmer.
The instructions for the tortellini will give you cooking time for adding them to already boiling water. But since your broth needs to come up to a boil, the time might differ from that stated on the package. So do an occasional test to check for doneness.
Once the tortellini are al dente (nearly done but still with a little chew), kill the heat and serve!
For extra bonus deliciousness, try a drizzle of nice olive oil on top, grating some parmesan cheese, a crack or two of black pepper, or a splash of red wine vinegar.
Sausage & Tortellini Soup
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 hot or mild Italian sausages
- 1 onion, yellow or brown, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 cup kale, (about 6 whole leaves), chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 pound fresh tortellini
- 4 cups broth
- Parmesan cheese to serve
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Crumble in the sausage and add the onions and garlic. Saute until the sausage begins to brown and the onions are soft and beginning to take on some color. Add the kale until it wilts, then add the spices and stir. Add the tortellini and broth.
- Bring to a brisk simmer and cook until the tortellini is al dente (check the package instructions for estimated time).
- Remove from the heat and divide among bowls. Top with parmesan cheese and an extra drizzle of olive oil.