This is a great hearty soup recipe from one of my cookbooks, followed by my simplified version of it that tasted good too.
Tortellini Meatball Soup
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
2/3 cup fine plain dry breadcrumbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and sliced about 1/3 inch thick
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
Two 9-oz. packages fresh four-cheese tortellini
2 T. Italian seasoning
2 T. chopped fresh basil
2 roasted red peppers from a jar, drained and chopped
2 T. fresh lemon juice
6 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
To make the meatballs, combine the sausage and breadcrumbs in a large bowl and add a pinch each of the salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix together and form meatballs about 3/4 inch in diameter. Set aside (the meatballs are not precooked).
Place a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
Add the broth, water, 3/4 t. salt, and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.
Add the meatballs and cook for 6 minutes, adjusting the heat so the broth simmers but doesn't boil furiously. Add the tortellini and Italian seasoning and cook for 4 minutes. Add the basil, roasted peppers, and lemon juice and simmer until the tortellini are tender, about 3 minutes more.
Gently stir in the spinach and remove from the heat. Cover th epot an dlet stand until the spinach is wilted but still bright green, about 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired.
Ladle into warm bowls and serve.
I made the following substitutions to use what I had on hand:
Italian turkey sausage instead of pork and instead of making meatballs, I just cooked it and added it crumbled to the soup.
I used the following frozen ingredients instead of fresh: chopped onion, sliced carrots, 1 bag leaf spinach, and one 16 oz. package cheese tortellini.
1 T. minced garlic from a jar instead of fresh cloves, and 2 t. dried basil instead of fresh.
Fresh ingredients are always best but this was still good with the substitutions. Serve with some muffins or crusty bread and it's a great meal for a cold evening.