Spicy Tortellini Soup

Bay area mornings start out nestled under a bed of gray fog, cold and wooly on the eyes. Some days the blanket lifts to reveal blue sky and sparkling sun by noon, and everything is good.  Other times the fog keeps us wrapped tight in grey, so we wrap ourselves tight in hoods and coats (mostly Patagonia, let’s be real), and everything is still pretty much good.  We eat soup!

And sometimes we hop in the car and drive towards sunnier skies.  To chilly sunny beaches in Carmel.

Or richly green and windy overlooks along Big Sur.

Other times we fly to Seattle, which is unexpectedly warm and full of sunshine for Easter.

The blossoming cherries there!  Nothing better, I’m almost certain.

While you’re in Seattle, you might meet a new man.  Charming and adorable.  Killer style.  I was instantly smitten with this one.

He doesn’t say much, but I think he sort of likes me, too.  His name is Ro.  He has so many faces, and I want to eat them all.

Home from the traveling and the frolicking and the other-people’s-baby-stealing fun, I’m back in the fog and hungry for soup.  This one is richly warming and stop-midway-through-the-bowl-to-take-a-deep-breath spicy, bright with fresh kale and lush with cheesy pasta pockets. Hang on, let me say that again: cheesy pasta pockets.

Fog or no fog, you’ll want to get in on this one, I think.

Spicy Tortellini Soup

This recipe is courtesy of my gorgeous friend Jane Bursky, the very same woman responsible for this velvety carrot potato soup, which has become one of my favorite last-minute dinners. Ben gives this soup “five stars out of four.”  Clearly, Jane Bursky knows her way around a soup bowl.


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 12 ounces smoked turkey kielbasa, thinly sliced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (9 ounce) package fresh cheese tortellini


In a large saucepan or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the olive oil, to warm.  Sauté the onion and fennel until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes and sauté another 5 minutes, until fragrant.  Add the kielbasa and continue to cook until browned in spots.

Add the chicken broth and bring soup to a gentle boil.  Add kale and cannellini beans, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until kale is slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the Parmesan cheese, a little bit at a time, stirring to incorporate and melt into the soup.

At this point, if you’re not planning to serve the soup straight away, cool, cover and refrigerate the soup until you’d like to serve it.  Just bring it back to a simmer before adding the tortellini.

Once the tortellini has been added, simmer the soup until the pasta is just tender, but not overly soft (it should still be slightly firm to bite), 2-5 minutes.

Serve immediately, with extra grated Parmesan for topping.

Makes roughly 8-10 cups soup.

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  1. You are too sweet, chef Molly! Thanks for the kind words. I made another amazing soup for all of us at New Years, but I can’t find the recipe! Hopefully I will find it, and will send it on! Keep up the amazing work! xoxox

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