RECIPE: Spicy Tuscan Tortellini Soup





I grew up with Minestrone soup, pretty much at least twice a month, if not more. It made me sort of hate minestrone soup as an adult. This saddens my husband, who really likes Minestrone. I get the appeal, it's a meal in a bowl, with a lot of vegetables and nutrients. But for my Italian family, it was an inexpensive way to fill bellies too. My mom put potatoes in hers, or pasta, and definitely red beans or kidney beans. All that starch overpowered any vegetables she would put in her soup. SO yes, I did not enjoy Minestrone night at our house.

But imagine my surprise when I ran across a soup full of vegetables, delicate cannellini beans, and my favorite pasta-tortellini. I played with the recipe, added a low fat sausage to richen the base of the soup, and added a few more vegetables and voila! This soup is delicious. It's a hearty all-in-one-meal in a bowl and healthy-ish to boot.

Spicy Tuscan Tortellini Soup

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil 
1 yellow onion, finely chopped 
2/3 of a pound of mild turkey Italian turkey sausage, about 3 links, removed from casings 
4 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes 
4 cups of chicken broth 
2 tablespoons of dried parsley 
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes 
1 orange bell pepper finely chopped 
1 teaspoon of kosher salt 
black pepper to taste 
1 cup of water 
18 oz. of fresh cheese tortellini 
1 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
5 oz. of baby spinach, ends trimmed 
Parmesan cheese to serve 

Directions

In a heavy bottom stockpot heat the olive oil and brown the sausage, crumbling it with your spoon as it cooks and browns. Next add the onion and the garlic and cook until just tender then add the bell pepper, stirring often, cooking until softened. 

Next add the tomatoes and the broth and the red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper and add a cup of water. Boil for about 10 minutes and then bring down to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.

Next add the tortellini, the white beans and the spinach. Tortellini only should take about three minutes and the cannellini beans and spinach only really need one. So add the tortellini first, cook it for a couple minutes and then finish it off with the spinach and the beans. Cook until spinach is just wilted and serve in large bowls with crusty bread and a nice heaping spoonful of grated Parmesan cheese on top.

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