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Comfort Soup - Tortellini in Brodo

A Traditional Italian Soup Recipe

The kitchen has always offered me a source of comfort, a place to contemplate while chopping, a place of brief respite while processing the pressing issues of the day. This week, my mind turned to this simple soup- an easy restorative for heart and soul. Tortellinis, simmered in a fragrant broth, with spinach or kale, and topped with Parmesan- warm comfort in a bowl.

Warm and comforting, it's also forgiving. I used chicken stock, but you could easily use vegetable stock and make this a vegetarian meal. I did take the time to dice onions, carrots, celery and garlic, and soften them slowly, but a favorite variation is to simply peel whole garlic cloves, simmer them in the stock for a half hour, then pull them out and add the rest of the ingredients. As for the greens? Broccoli, kale, or spinach, frozen or fresh, even if suffering from an extra day or two in the fridge- all work well to add a hit of green fiber and flavor. If you have it, add a parmesan rind to the stock as the tortellinis cook, imparting that wonderfully rich, salty flavor to the broth. Serve with some garlic toast and settle in for a fine supper.

Tortellini in Brodo



  • 1 lb. fresh cheese or spinach tortellinis, or half a pound of any dried pasta in the cabinet.
  • 4 c. low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 large stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach leaves, chopped kale or broccoli
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
  • Grated Parmesan




  1. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering add the diced onions, carrots and celery.
  2. Add red pepper flakes, if using.
  3. When vegetables have softened, add the garlic and stir until fragrant.
  4. Add the chicken or vegetable broth and raise the heat, bringing it to a gentle boil.
  5. Add salt, then add the tortellinis or pasta. Follow package instructions for cooking times.
  6. About three minutes before the pasta should be done, stir in fresh spinach leaves and let them melt into the hot broth. If you're using frozen vegetables, give them an extra few minutes.
  7. Serve with a pinch of salt, fresh ground pepper, some more red pepper flakes if you like, and a healthy grating of parmesan cheese.

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