Chicken-Sausage-Tortellini Soup

This soup is easy and delicious. Bump up the red pepper flakes if you like things spicer. Sometimes I skip the chicken thighs and just use sausage and tortellini. Vegetarians can use cannelloni beans and veggie-sausage.

Chicken-Sausage-Tortellini Soup
Yield: 4—6 servings

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2-1/2 cups organic chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
(for a more “tomato soup” version, use crushed tomatoes)
1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
Optional, but recommended: a couple of Parmesan rinds
1/4 cup pesto
1/4 teaspoon sugar (to balance the tomato’s acidity)
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more if needed
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1/2′ slices
1 pound frozen boneless, skinless chicken thighs
(Note: If using thawed chicken, cut cooking time to 10 minutes)
9 ounces baby spinach, chopped roughly
1 (8- to 10-ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini (or any other flavor)

1 cup grated Parmesan
Torn or sliced fresh basil
Black pepper

In a large Dutch oven, sauté the garlic, onion, carrot, celery in olive oil.

Add all ingredients—except spinach and tortellini—to the Dutch oven. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Coarsely shred the chicken with two forks, pressing pieces of chicken against the side of the pot to break the thighs apart. Stir in the spinach so that it wilts into the soup.

Stir in the tortellini, cover the pot, and cook until the tortellini are al dente and heated through, about 3 minutes. Taste the soup and adjust seasonings, if needed. Ladle into bowls and top with Parmesan, basil, and black pepper. Serve with crusty bread and a salad.