This creamy bowl of Pesto Tortellini Zuppa Toscana is the perfect cold-weather dinner. Spicy Italian chicken sausage simmered together with basil pesto, cheese tortellini, kale, a little lemon, and finished with crispy bacon. Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to each bowl and serve with crusty bread. It’s hearty, full of greens, and so delicious. A fun twist on the classic and great for just about any night of the week!
We finally have snow here! This has been the weirdest December I’ve ever seen. We’ve had very little snowfall and back to back days of sunshine. Usually by this time of year we have full snow cover and more snowy days than sunny. But this year has just been so strange.
I’m excited to report that we have a couple days of snow in the forecast. Snowy cold days mean soup! And this is one I’ve been looking forward to making for months.
A few years ago I made my own version of the Olive Garden’s very well loved Zuppa Toscana. It’s been such a favorite soup ever since. When I make it for people, they always ask for the recipe.
Back in the fall I had the idea to replace the potatoes in the soup with some cheese tortellini. At the time I had been making a lot of soup, so I held off on this recipe until I had the perfect day to make it.
Well, I finally made it, and I actually think it’s better than the original.
Here are the details
The key to a good Zuppa Toscana is the spicy sausage. So begin with the sausage, you’ll want to brown it with onions and garlic and add in some broth. Then, I love to add chopped sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto for even more flavor.
This may not be traditional but it really adds so much to this hearty soup. I’ve found that both the addition of sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and fresh lemon really lighten things up and truly enhance the flavors.
Once you have everything in the soup, add the kale and let it cook down into the broth. Towards the end of cooking, stir in the tortellini, cream, and parmesan.
Then just ladle the soup into bowls and top with crispy bacon. Nothing fancy at all, but so warming delicious.
Really excited to serve this to my family over Christmas break. My cousin Abby loves soup, so this is perfect!
Bonus, this soup is great to have after coming in from the cold and so easy to cook up too.
Looking for winter soup recipes? Here are a few ideas:
Lastly, if you make this Pesto Tortellini Zuppa Toscana be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Pesto Tortellini Zuppa Toscana
Calories Per Serving: 685 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- 4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
- 3/4 pound ground spicy Italian chicken or pork sausage
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1/3 cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
- 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained, and tomatoes chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 bunch Tuscan or curly kale, roughly chopped
- 1 pound cheese tortellini
- 3/4 cup heavy cream or whole milk
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese
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- 1. Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon. If there's excess bacon grease, drain off all but 1 tablespoon. 2. To the pot, add the sausage and onion. Brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the celery, garlic, and a pinch of chili flakes, cook 2 minutes. Pour in the broth, 1 cup water, the pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 3. Stir in the kale and cook 5 minutes, until wilted, stir in the tortellini. Cook 2-3 minutes, then add the cream and parmesan. Remove from the heat. Stir in the reserved bacon.4. Serve the soup topped with additional parmesan and fresh thyme, if desired.