I think it might’ve been my sister who said that “every season is soup season,” and I couldn’t agree more.

But there is something extra comforting about homemade soup on a rainy, gray January afternoon. So when considering what to make for the NFL playoff games last Saturday, chicken tortellini soup immediately sprang to mind.

Now I love me some traditional chicken soup, particularly with fat egg noodles, but there’s something about the cheese tortellini plumped up in the savory chicken broth that just felt right. As for the rest of the “recipe,” I raided the pantry and added a few of my favorite things.

Now for the method to my madness…


1 small white or yellow diced onion * 3 cloves minced garlic *2 carrots peeled and cut into coins * 2 stalks of celery diced * 1 Yukon gold potato cubed * 1 can Cannelloni beans rinsed and drained * 64 oz of your favorite chicken broth or stock * two chicken breasts (one if they run particularly large) * 1 pkg of your favorite cheese tortellini * salt and pepper * olive oil * five fresh thyme sprigs * 2 bay leaves * a pinch of fennel seeds* a Parmesan rind (if desired) a pinch of saffron (if desired)

In your favorite soup pot or Dutch oven, the bigger the better, heat up two tablespoons of olive oil over low to medium heat. Add the diced onion, celery, and carrots, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute a few minutes until softened. Add the fennel seeds and minced garlic and cook for another minute or two, stirring and being careful not to burn the garlic. Burnt garlic is bitter and will ruin the soup. You don’t want to ruin the soup!

Add your chicken broth or stock and give the veggies a stir. Add the drained beans, plenty of salt and pepper, the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, saffron, and Parmesan rind. The rind and saffron gives the broth a simmered-all-day feel, so if you can use both, go for it. If not, you’ll still love this soup.

For the chicken breast, I follow Ina Garten’s foolproof method that she uses for her chicken salad. Along with the chicken breast, I roast the chunky cubes of Yukon gold potato for extra flavor on the same sheet pan. Be sure to let your chicken breast rest for 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven. That’ll keep the chicken super juicy when you dice it for the soup.

Let your soup simmer for at least an hour. Longer if you have time. Add the potatoes and cubed chicken during the last 15 minutes before serving. The last but super important step? Boil the tortellini in salted water per the package instructions in its own pan separate from the soup. This will prevent this super yummy pasta from going all gummy in the soup.

Before you serve, remove the bay leaves, what’s left of the Parmesan rind, and the thyme stems. In each bowl, start with your desired amount of Tortellini and ladle the soup on top of it. Garnish with sliced green onion, pepper, and grated Parmesan.

Make sure you taste the soup for seasoning during the process. Everyone’s palette is different, so I refrained from including too many measurements.