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Tortellini soup with sausage and kale in a white bowl.

Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Kale

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 25 min
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: American


The BEST tortellini soup recipe! Ready in 30 minutes with kale, white beans, and Italian sausage.


  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 heaping cups cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen - see recipe notes)
  • 3 heaping cups roughly chopped kale
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can white beans or butter beans, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce


  1. Place a large pot on a burner over medium-high heat. Add Italian sausage and cook, stirring frequently to break up any large pieces, for 7-10 minutes or until cooked through. 
  2. Use a slotted spoon to remove cooked sausage from the pot, leaving behind any fat that has released (you'll use it to cook the onion in the next step!) Transfer cooked sausage to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add onion and garlic to pot. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes until onion is translucent.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
  5. Add stock to pot a little at a time to deglaze, using a spoon or spatula to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot (we want to soak up all that flavor!)
  6. Return cooked Italian sausage to pot. Add lemon juice and another pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
  7. Bring soup to a simmer. 
  8. When soup has reached a low simmer, add tortellini, kale, and white beans. Stir to combine and simmer an additional few minutes until tortellini is cooked through.
  9. Add the fish sauce, taste, and add salt as necessary. Serve immediately. 


A few notes on tortellini. We tested this recipe with a few different varieties of tortellini - they all taste great, but different store-bought brands may vary in their cook time! Our favorite frozen tortellini cooks in just a minute or two, while the fresh and shelf-stable/dried varieties we tested tended to take a few extra minutes. For that reason, I generally recommend frozen tortellini in this recipe (but use whatever you have on hand!) The tortellini will continue to cook in the hot soup, so feel free to turn off the soup a few minutes early! Don't be afraid to taste-test a tortellini if you're not sure whether it's cooked through yet. 

Substitutions. Use gnocchi, ravioli, or your favorite pasta in place of the tortellini if you like (you may need to adjust the cook time, so just keep an eye on it!) or leave the pasta out entirely for a lighter option (it's still delicious!) This soup is also great with zucchini noodles in place of tortellini! Running low on chicken or veggie stock? Substitute 1/2 cup water and let the soup simmer a few extra minutes to build more flavor. Use shredded chicken in place of the sausage, or omit the meat altogether for a vegetarian option (use 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to sauté the onions and garlic if you go this route!) Use fresh spinach in place of kale if you like.

To make this soup vegan, omit the Italian sausage and instead cook the onion and garlic in 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Use your favorite vegan pasta in lieu of the tortellini and be sure to use a good vegetable stock in place of chicken stock.

For a gluten-free kale and sausage soup, omit the tortellini and use extra beans or your favorite gluten-free pasta instead.

Additions. Add a parmesan rind to this soup while it simmers for an extra flavor boost, or top with grated parmesan cheese as you serve. Add extra beans (we love white beans or butter beans!) For a thicker, creamier soup, stir in 1/3 cup heavy cream or 1/2 cup of our Magic Cauliflower cream. This soup is very forgiving - don't be afraid to play around with it!

Ingredients & Equipment. If you don't already have a bottle of fish sauce in your fridge or pantry, it's worth picking one up for this recipe! A dash of fish sauce adds SO much flavor to savory dishes, and it really helps this soup pop. We love the size and texture of large butter beans in this tortellini soup. Cannellini beans or Great Northern Beans are also tasty! We've been loving our Cuisinart stock pot for soups lately (I picked the pot in these pictures up at HomeGoods awhile back, but you can find a similar one here) and a trusty slotted spoon to transfer cooked sausage to and from the pot.

About the fish sauce: You can absolutely leave fish sauce out of this recipe if you like, but it really does help the whole soup pop! If you leave the fish sauce out, be sure to taste the soup before serving to check seasonings - add an extra dash of lemon juice or a teaspoon of soy sauce in place of the fish sauce if you'd like to build a bit more flavor!

Serve this tortellini soup with some homemade crusty bread or biscuits (we love our herb biscuits, pumpkin biscuits, or gruyere biscuits!)

Keywords: dinner, healthy, winter