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Kale Tortellini and White Bean Soup

You know the saying about March:  it comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  I say this phrase to myself dozens of times in the first half of March each year, reminding myself that soon enough the cold, raw, slushy days of winter will soon be behind us, and that bright blue skies, warm sunshine, and colorful flowers are just around the corner!  This healthy, filling, and soul-satisfying soup is just the thing to help us say a final farewell to a long, cold, and snowy winter as we prepare for a beautiful spring ahead!

Kale, Tortellini and White Bean Soup
Yield: 8 servings
Time: 20 minutes active;  45 minutes total

1 to 1½ lbs. raw turkey sausage links (sweet or spicy)
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
6 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
4 cups chicken stock
2 cans (each 14.5 oz.) sliced stewed tomatoes (no sodium added)
14 oz. frozen cheese tortellini
2 cans (each 14.5 oz.) cannellini or other white beans
4 cups raw kale
½ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

1.  Cut the turkey sausage links into bite-sized pieces.  Place in a medium-sized sauté pan and cook over medium heat until cooked through until browned, about 8 minutes.

2.  Combine the olive oil, onions, and celery in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Sauté over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for another minute.  Add the spices (smoked paprika, basil, oregano, salt and pepper).  Cook for another minute, stirring frequently.

3.  Pour in the chicken stock and stewed tomatoes.  Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.  Add the frozen tortellini and boil for 3 minutes.

4.  Stir in the beans and kale.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Garnish with parsley and cheese before serving.

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