Tortellini And Kielbasa Soup (aka Our Favourite Soup)


A foodblog can be an exacting mistress, a fact which several of my fellow bloggers have bemoaned of late. What at first seems like a fun little hobby actually takes a surprising amount of work and can quickly become all-consuming. When things are going well, your recipes are on point, your pictures look good and your readers are responding favourably and you feel like a million bucks. You start to think that you are pretty good at this, and you begin walking with a little swagger. But at other times, it can feel like something of a burden. You don’t feel like making anything, much less photographing and writing about it. Or you do feel like making things, but the results are less-than-stellar and not, as we say in my house, “blogworthy”. Suddenly, this little hobby of yours doesn’t seem like much fun, and that swagger in your walk is nowhere to be seen.

I had a lousy blogging week this past week. My photographs were ho-hum, my writing felt uninspired, and a few great recipe ideas resulted in non-blogworthy foods. In fact, just this morning I threw away a pan of brownies that were barely edible. Coconut flour foiled me again, but this time I was actually following someone else’s recipe. I’d tinkered with the flavourings, but that didn’t appear to be the problem. The recipe promised lovely fudgey brownies, but what I ended up with was dry and chalky, and required huge gulps of water to get down. Not exactly something I want to pass on to my readers.

Sometimes I get so focused on creating new, interesting dishes, I lose sight of what this blog is about – sharing my love of cooking and baking with anyone who cares to listen. So I am going back to basics and bringing you a time-honoured recipe, one that I’ve made so many times I could do it in my sleep. But it’s also really, really good. So good that my six-year old son requested it for his birthday dinner last week. He could have had whatever greasy, bad-for-you meal he wanted, but he chose this, a hearty, healthy soup that warms you right down to your toes.

Being that it contains tortellini, it’s not exactly low carb. For my portion, I skipped the pasta and added extra vegetables like zucchini and broccoli. And it was still wonderfully hearty and filling. And it really did warm me right down to my toes. And that, my friends, makes it blogworthy.

Tortellini and Kielbasa Soup adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2002

2 tbsp olive oil
16oz cooked kielbasa sausage, thinly sliced (turkey kielbasa is fine)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp dried pepper flakes
10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 packaged frozen chopped spinach
2 cups cooked cannellini (canned is fine, but I prefer to use dried and cook them ahead of time. If using canned, be sure to drain and rinse them before adding)
1 12oz package cheese tortellini
salt and pepper to taste

Grated asiago or parmesan cheese for serving

Heat oil in large heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat. Add kielbasa and saute until browned, about 10 minutes. Add onion and continue to stir until onion is soft and translucent, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add broth and bring to a boil. Stir in cannellini and spinach and reduce heat to low. Simmer 4-5 minutes.

Stir in tortellini. Simmer until tender but firm, about 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a sprinkle of cheese on top.

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  1. Cookin' Canuck says

    Believe me, I have had those kind of blogging weeks, too. It looks as though you bounced back with this hearty soup. Tortellini soup is one of my favorites and the addition of kielbasa is a fantastic idea.

  2. Pretend Chef says

    My photos NEVER turn out good. My little point and shoot camera just doesn't do the food any sort of justice. I've had more than my share of flubs. Last night my caramelized shallots ended up crispy since my watchful eye was on all other aspects of my meal. I understand. Even being a newbie to food blogging I feel disappointed in myself when I don't have a new recipe to share. That soup looks and sounds incredible!

  3. whatsfordinneracrossstatelines says

    I like this, yes, it's called the reality check! It's how you move forward and I think you did so with grace. Even though I like making over the top stuff, I love finding simple but good recipes like this too. I'm constantly reminding myself, it's not the end of the world, tomm. is another day!
    Have a great weekend!

  4. Sommer J says

    Blogging definitely has that effect on me, too. I have folders full of photos for potential blog posts that I never use. It's either having no time to blog it or not feeling particularly inspired when the time comes. Oh, and I've had some disappointments, too. had one last week that made me cry…almost. But it's nice that blogging keeps you trying new things and learning new things from others. I learned keeping it simple is just as amazing as going all out with new and different ideas! I LOVE your photography. I can not believe you're not happy with it, but I understand, too. Keep putting that amazing stuff out there, Carolyn!

    OH and that soup looks damned good!!!! Will share this with friends!

  5. Tessie of Germany says

    I am most drooled a river!! That looks awesome! I am still trying to find my place in the blogging world I am not good with just doing the cooking thing although I love it but it seems that cooking and baking take up the most time in the homemaking arena. But I think your pictures are great and your foods inspire me to look for harder things to try out and adjust according to my family. So I think you are doing great :)

  6. Emma says

    That soup looks delicious, but not like it would weigh you down. Your son has good taste :)

    I hear you on the blogging thing, I'm new to it and already feeling a bit disillusioned, am trying to just have fun with it and be true to myself and not worry so much what other people think.

  7. Spicie Foodie says

    Carolyn, you are so right sometimes we all do just have stop ignoring or "basic" recipes. Maybe that's how we can all reboot after those non-inspirational times. Your soup looks very blog-worthy :) Reading the recipe, and your photos are making my mouth water.

  8. K. Rock says

    I am new to the food blogging thing but I am having alot of fun with it. But I do have my times when I dont blog there for 2 weeks because nothing exciting is happening in my kitchen. But overall it's worth doing.

    That soup looks really good.

  9. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having says

    This soup looks fantastic!
    I know exactly how you feel about blogging. There are some days when things just don't go right. I always have a little mental debate about posting things that didn't work. Generally I decide to do it, because for me blogging is a way to learn and share what I've learned.

  10. Priscilla - She's Cookin' says

    Basic comfort food never disappoints; as evidence – this is obviously one of your son's favorites for him to request it for his birthday dinner! As far as the blogging – I'm totally with you. I've lost my momentum after traveling most of October…but working my way back :)

  11. Emily Z says

    I like this post, because I understand and can relate. Sometimes it can feel oh-so-very discouraging when no one is commenting on a recipe you've posted, you're not feeling the love and it makes the whole blogging thing feel like a burden. I totally agree with you. As for your recipe, I have not heard of kielbasa sausage, or at least I don't think I have! But it looks delicious regardless!

    Happy blogging, I love coming over here!

  12. Erin @ EKat's Kitchen says

    Carolyn, I completely know what you mean. I get so all-fired tied up in getting creative and noteworthy, that I lose sight of my lovely homemade mac & cheese and other tasty dishes. I think your tortellini soup looks amazing! Thank you for sharing this post and getting back to basics :)

  13. Lauren Zabaneh says

    I really love this post, Carolyn. Love your refreshing honesty and the whole thing about the bad pan of coconut flour brownies just made me bust out laughing. Just love it…the soup looks like something i need to make this next week. I needed a good soup recipe.

  14. baking.serendipity says

    This is a total back to basics success :) I'm so glad that it's finally cool enough for soups here in Phoenix, as I cannot wait to give this a shot! Thanks for keeping your head up and continuing to share your honest thoughts and awesome recipes :)

  15. Lauren says

    I'm always on the lookout for new soup ideas, and this recipe is definitely going on my "to make" list! My husband loves kielbasa, and I adore tortellini and cannelini beans, so I know we will both enjoy this soup.

  16. Amanda says

    Wow.. this looks great! I'll probably make it tonight for dinner. One thing – if I use canned cannelini beans, should I drain them before I add to the soup?

  17. Karen says

    I could have written that exact sentiment…sometimes you just don't feel like doing it/writing it/cooking it/etc. But this soup is certainly blogworthy. It looks amazing! The kielbasa, beans, and tortellini look like a perfect match. Yum!

  18. Kimberly Peterson says

    Oh Carolyn, I feel you!! You have pretty much summarised the life of a food blogger in those few paragraphs… just know that you shouldn't pressure yourself TOO much to cook / bake something blogworthy.. the inspiration will come when the time is right, and I feel like I've generally had a good week but now I'm running out of ideas and creativity… and I am beginning to struggle with trying to find something NEW to cook and not just a dish I've cooked before (but very much want to eat again) but cannot blog about because I've already blogged about it!!

    Aaahhhh… it gets stressful at times, but keep reading and browsing and looking up other people's recipes and inspiration will come to you :)

  19. The Mom Chef says

    I think you do an awesome job with your blog. I love the fact that you present the failures as well as the successes because that's what good cooking is all about. It takes a few tries to get things right.

    On the other hand, there are also the joys, like this soup. It looks absolutely amazing. I'd ask for it for my birthday too!

  20. Jelly Shot Test Kitchen says

    Have been there many times! In fact have a pan of, well, MUCK setting up in the fridge right now that likely Is destined for the gar-BAGE… Thanks for keeping it real.

    Soup looks amazing!!! I don't know if I can resist just a FEW tortelini!! 😉

  21. Claudie says

    Wow! This looks great! I never thought of such a combination — will definitely try it out. (And I will probably do as you did as well — skip the tortellini for my portion and leave them to the hubby… except for maybe one or two 😀 )

  22. honey82 says

    Ciao Bella!!!
    Grazie for your comment on my blog,you are very nice and I like so much your blog!!! :-)
    Un kiss a presto:-***

  23. Carolyn says

    Hi Amanda,
    Definitely drain and rinse the cannellini beans. I am going to edit the recipe to relect that now. Thanks for pointing it out!

  24. blackbookkitchendiaries says

    this soup sounds so amaizing.. i have tried tortellini soup before and my whole family loves it..i will bookmark this one and try it out soon.
    ps: i think you're doing an amaizing job on your blog..i love visiting it..we all have on of those days sweetie. *hugs*

  25. Stephanie says

    That soup looks so warm and comforting — perfect for a cold, gray day. I love kielbasa. I think it adds just the right amount of meaty-goodness to any meal and it has spice. Hubby commented on how much I've been making soup lately. I can't help it, though. They are so easy and fool-proof to make (most of the time).

    And, it's funny that you mention the term "blog-worthy," as it's a common word tossed around in my house as well. But, it makes sense though. Who would want to share a recipe for something that sucks? :-p Even when I tinker with a recipe, substituting ingredients for ones that I want, they sometimes turn out crappy. You win some, you lose some, right?

  26. moowiesqrd says

    I definitely understand the funks that come with blogging… I basically took 2009 off because I just needed to deal with life and wasn't inspired to write/blog at all. The soup looks great!

    P.S. Yes, I did enjoy that persimmon bread… like zucchini bread, it isn't a major presence. It just lends a light sweetness and moisture.

  27. Danielle says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I was struggling to figure something out for dinner and then I saw this and made it! Delicious!

  28. She's Cookin' says

    I've been in the same zone for weeks – a lot of it has to do with traveling so much that, not only am I not cooking but I've lost my momentum and desire and haven't been able to keep up with my blog reading. I read this a few days ago, and I'm back to leave a comment: your tortellini and kielbasa soup looks so rustic and comforting and tummy-warming good, certainly successful on all levels :)

  29. The Enchanted Cook says

    Carolyn – your soup looks stunning and delectable! I even showed it to my husband and he loved it, too! I can relate to everything you said, and clearly so do many others! Fantastic post and I can't wait to make the soup!


  30. Marlis says

    This soup was an offical success in my household. Everyone loved it. I reduced the garlic and used fresh spinach (didn't have any frozen) and added a sprinkle of parsley at the end. I also only added two cans of reduced sodium broth and one can water (we don't eat much salt) since the Turkey Kielbasa is salty too. Thanks for a great recipe, this is officially now a staple in our home!

  31. phoenixxx says

    I made this last night and it was awesome! I replaced the kielbasa with Italian sausage and didn't use onion (not a fan), but seriously, I will be making this a lot.

  32. morbidtruths says

    I really liked this soup a lot! I used Trader Joe's pesto tortellini. The only problem I had was too much spinach (which I guess really isn't a problem). Next time I'll use 1/2 a package of frozen, chopped spinach.

  33. Jersey Girl Cooks says

    I love this soup. I make a very similar version without the beans. I use turkey kielbasi from Trader Joe's. Delicious!

  34. Karen says

    Oh My! I love this soup! My husband found your recipe a few years ago and it is one of our favorites. I especially loved it when I had Gestational Diabetes because I could eat the carbs from the tortellini pasta, but the fiber from the beans made it so that my blood sugar wouldn’t spike too much from it. It was pouring buckets last night and I was so happy we had the key ingredients in our home all at once so that we could have a “Soup Night”. I made a batch and brought the left overs in to work. My lab students all wanted the recipe.

  35. Marlis says

    Just wanted you to know, I pinned this soup when Pinterest was pretty new and since then it has been re-pinned 50 times, more than any other pin. It’s definitely super popular!

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