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:
Creamy Gnocchi Soup with Rosemary Bacon
Creamy French Onion and Mushroom Soup
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.
I can’t explain how much we love this soup. We are huge fans of your recipes but this is one of our all time favorites. Thank you for all you give to this community!
Fantastic!! I love to hear that this recipe is always a winner, thanks for making it so often! Have a great week:)
This is my all time favorite soup!
Happy Sunday!!🍍🥥 Thank you so much for trying this recipe and your feedback, so glad to hear it was enjoyed! xT
I just made this for dinner and it was so delicious!!! Thank you so much for the recipe! I love your book, and we’re all huge fans of your fabulous recipes!
Awesome!! Thanks a bunch for testing this recipe out, so glad to hear it turned out well for you! xT
Made this for lunch today! So so yummy. Probably the best soup recipe I’ve ever made:) followed the recipe exact
Happy Sunday!💐 I really appreciate you making this recipe and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear it was a hit! xT
This soup was easy to make and one of the most delicious soups my husband and I have ever had! The flavors were so big and all worked so perfectly together. This will definitely become one of my go-to recipes! Thanks, Tieghan, for another winner!
Fantastic!!🌺 I love to hear that this recipe turned out well for you and thanks so much for making it! xT
This is my families favorite recipe maybe ever! My 12 year old requested it for his birthday dinner. I also made it for my friends family after her mother passed away. The flavors are bright and complex yet easy to make. It’s a hearty, comforting meal. It has a special place in our home. I just wanted you to know how much we love this recipe! Thank you for sharing it!
Wonderful!! I appreciate you making this recipe so often and sharing your feedback, so glad to hear it is always a winner! Have a great Wednesday! xx
Made this tonight … was delicious! Made it as written, wouldn’t change a thing. Adding to the soup dinner rotation. The
I appreciate you making this recipe and I’m thrilled to hear that it turned out well for you! Have a great weekend! xx
To avoid the “soggy” tortellini, I recommend not adding it to the soup base. Boil the tortellini separate and serve like you would spaghetti.
Thanks so much for making this recipe and sharing your feedback! So glad it was enjoyed! xT
Love this recipe! I have made is so many times!! I was wondering, do you think it would taste good if I substitute the Italian chicken or pork sausage with chopped up rotisserie chicken?
Thanks for making this recipe so often!! Sure, that would be great for you to use! Let me know how it turns out:) xx
SO SO good!!! Absolutely delicious! I made this recipe tonight for the first time and loved it! I used whole milk and turkey bacon as substitutes for the heavy cream and bacon and it was wonderful. I have tons of left overs and am excited to have it again tomorrow and the next day! Thanks for the awesome recipe Tieghan!
Happy Sunday!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed and appreciate you making it! xT
This soup looks and sounds amazing! Any instructions for making in an instant pot? Excited to try this!
Thanks! I’ve not tested this so I don’t have the exact instructions, but I bet it would work well for you! Let me know if you give this recipe a try, I hope you love it! xx
I make this for my wife at least 3x a month. She loves it and it’s become a staple! Thanks Tieghan!
Happy Monday!!☃️ Thanks a lot for making this recipe so often and sharing your review, I love to hear that it is always a winner! xx
I’ve made this twice now – it’s quickly become a family favorite. Thanks for the great recipe!
Happy New Year!🎆🎈 I appreciate you making this recipe and your comment! So glad to hear it was enjoyed! xx
This recipe is so easy and SO good!
Wonderful!! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Thanks for your comment! xx
I first made this soup over the summer because I was really wanting something warm and comforting while I worked night shift! Safe to say this absolutely hit the spot and I made it two weeks in a row for my lunches! I’m just about to make it again since it’s the perfect winter warm-up meal and I cannot wait. If you’re on the fence about this please make it because it’s an absolute winner!
*We do keep the tortellini separate now since it did get soggy the first time.*
Happy Wednesday!!🎇 I am delighted to hear that this recipe is always enjoyed and appreciate you making it so often! xx