Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup with Cheese Mix
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 lb Italian Sausage, casings removed and discarded
1 (16 oz) refrigerated pkg of 3-Cheese Tortellini
1 (15 oz) can Cannellini Beans, drained
1 qt (32 oz) chicken broth or stock
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 medium onion, diced
3 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 TBSP garlic, finely diced
3/4 tsp dried basil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 (6 oz) pkg baby spinach, rinsed and chopped
salt & pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, grated or shredded (per serving)
1/3 cup Parmesan and/or Romano cheese (per serving)
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped (per serving)(optional)

Directions:

1. Place the sausage in a large pot over medium high heat and saute until well browned, stirring frequently to break up clumps (about 10 minutes)
2. Remove the browned sausage and set aside
3. Drain off and discard all but about 1 TBSP of the fat
4. Add the onions, celery and garlic, and saute until the are translucent (about 5 minutes)
5. Add the chicken broth or stock, tomatoes (with liquid), spinach, beans, tomato sauce and all remaining dry spices and stir to combine
6. Bring the mixture to a brief boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow to simmer 30 minutes
7. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the sausage and tortellini; cover and cook 15 more minutes
8. Meanwhile, place 1/3 cup Monterey Jack cheese in the bottom of each serving bowl
9. Ladle soup carefully on top of the cheese
10. Garnish each bowl with 1/3 cup Parmesan and/or Romano cheese and chopped fresh parsley

Lea chops veggies for meatloafI developed this recipe from a basic Torellini Soup my daughter-in-law, Deanna, served during our last visit in Hawaii. We like it even better with the hot Italian sausage, additional seasonings, and robust flavored cheeses. During the winter months a dash of your favorite hot sauce or cayenne pepper makes it spring to life!

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