Crockpot Tortellini Soup
Every year, I tell myself I’m going to make a concerted effort to be less busy during the holidays. Every year, I reach the end of December wondering what on earth I’ve been doing the last three weeks. This year, I’m trying a different approach that I hope will help me appreciate the little moments. It’s being helped along by recipes like this Crockpot Tortellini Soup.
A warming, hearty soup made in the slow cooker, this easy and healthy crockpot recipe is allowing me not to be less busy but to be a different busy.
I’ve realized that what I really want during the holiday season isn’t for my time to be less full. It’s for it to be full of the activities that mean the most to me this time of year: time with family and friends, cheesy Christmas movies, staring wistfully at holiday lights, volunteering, baking cookies. The list goes on and on!
You know what’s not on that list? Stressing over dinner.
Actually, is stressing over what recipe to make for dinner ever on my list? Nope!
Enter Crockpot Tortellini Soup. It has all the warming comfort and indulgent touches that we crave this time of year, done in a lighter, healthy way.
This slow cooker soup is high in lean protein and loaded with veggies—i.e. the soup I need this time of year.
It’s also rich and satisfying, thanks to the addition of cheesy tortellini pasta noodles—i.e. the soup I want this time of year.
How to Make the Best Crockpot Tortellini Soup
A few nuances set this slow cooker tortellini soup recipe apart. Here’s the scoop:
- Start by browning the Italian turkey sausage. The sausage adds zesty flavor and rib-sticking protein but is much lower in fat than regular pork sausage. You can use spicy Italian sausage or sweet Italian sausage depending upon your and your family’s preferences.
- Add the onion and fennel. Onion is classic. Fennel is unexpected and deeply delicious, especially with the sausage. Common in many Italian recipes, fennel gives the soup a note of subtle sweetness. It doesn’t overpower; rather, it will be the somethin’ somethin’ that makes you pause, try to put a finger on what makes this tortellini soup special, and then go back for more.
- Add tomato paste. Game. Changer. One of my favorite stealth flavor builders, tomato paste gives the Crockpot Tortellini Soup a depth that will fool everyone into thinking you spent hours lovingly simmering it on the stove, instead of tossing everything into the slow cooker and walking away. Your secret is safe with me.
- Add all but the last two ingredients to the crockpot. Set it and forget it.
- Stir the kale and tortellini directly into the crock pot with the other ingredients. No separate pot required. It’s a victory for easy prep and fewer dishes!
- Red wine vinegar. A splash makes the soup lively, bright, and balanced. Don’t skip it.
- Serve, sprinkle with Parmesan, and enjoy the experience of a hearty, homemade meal that took you fewer than 15 minutes of active effort to prepare.
Crockpot Tortellini Soup—A Few Recipe Variations
Feel free to use this slow cooker soup as a base for other flavor options. Here are a few I have on my list to try:
- Crockpot Creamy Tortellini Soup. For an extra hit of indulgence, stir in a splash of half and half just before serving.
- Creamy Tortellini Spinach Soup. Swap the kale for several big handfuls of roughly chopped spinach. Add the splash of half and half at the end.
- Easy Spinach Tortellini Soup. Swap the regular cheese tortellini for spinach tortellini.
- Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken Soup. Instead of Italian turkey sausage, use chicken sausage. You can also skip the sausage altogether and add cooked, shredded chicken into the slow cooker with the sautéed veggies (here is how to cook shredded chicken; for the ultimate shortcut, you could even use shredded, store-bought rotisserie chicken). Since sausage has more flavor than shredded chicken, you may want to stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes, black pepper, or even fennel seeds at the end.
On a busy night soon, try this easy Crockpot Tortellini Soup. It will fill your tummy and then allow you to fill your evening with the activities that mean the most to you.
Crockpot Tortellini Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground Italian turkey sausage — look for it sold ground in a package, or you can also squeeze it from the casings if links are your only option
- 1 large yellow onion — chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 large fennel bulb — chopped (about 2 cups)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste — I like to buy the kind in the tube so I can use it for several recipes over time
- 3 cloves garlic — minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 3 large carrots — chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth — plus additional as needed
- 1 (15-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes in their juices
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 4 cups chopped stemmed curly or dinosaur kale — about half of an 8- to 10-ounce bunch
- 1 (9-ounce) package Buitoni 3-Cheese Tortellini
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Chopped fresh parsley
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the turkey sausage, onion, fennel, salt, and pepper. Cook, breaking apart the meat, until it is browned and the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 additional minute.
Lightly coat the inside of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add the browned sausage mixture. Next, add the carrots, 6 cups chicken broth, diced tomatoes in their juices, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 3 hours, until the carrots are nearly tender.
Stir in the kale and tortellini. Cover and cook on LOW for 30 additional minutes, or until the kale is wilted and tender and the tortellini is al dente. If your slow cooker runs hot, check the slow cooker a little early to ensure the pasta does not overcook. Stir in the red wine vinegar. If you would like a thinner, brothier soup, stir in additional broth until your desired consistency is reached. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan and parsley.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 of 8, about 1.5 cups) — Calories: 412, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Carbohydrates: 27g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 23g
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