Recipe Review

The Facebook Moms Weren’t Wrong About This 2-Ingredient Trader Joe’s Pasta

updated Mar 17, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Patty Catalano

Trader Joe’s fanatics are all about finding shortcuts and product combinations to tame the never-ending chorus of “What’s for dinner?” So I wasn’t surprised when I saw a two-ingredient pantry dinner making the rounds on the Trader Joe’s Meal Ideas for Busy Moms Facebook page. Made with just a bag of shelf-stable tortellini and a carton of tomato soup, the Facebook moms raved that this slow cooker recipe is both hands-free and foolproof — a winning combination for anyone looking for a dinnertime reprieve. Here’s what happened when I tried it myself.

Credit: Patty Catalano

How to Make the Trader Joe’s 2-Ingredient Slow Cooker Pasta

To start, you’ll need a slow cooker. While the recipe doesn’t list a specific size, I recommend a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker, because the pasta and sauce may cook more quickly when exposed to the greater surface area in a larger 6-quart slow cooker. Combine a 1-pound package of Trader Joe’s dried tortellini or ravioli and the store’s 32-ounce carton of tomato or tomato and roasted red pepper soup. Stir to combine and cook on LOW for 4 hours or HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Dinner is ready as soon as the pasta is tender and the soup is reduced to a thick, marinara-like sauce.

Credit: Patty Catalano

My Honest Review of the 2-Ingredient Trader Joe’s Pasta

The Trader Joe’s Meal Ideas for Busy Moms Facebook group knows that dinner doesn’t get easier than this. In less than five minutes the pasta and soup were cooking and required nothing more from me. After about 2 hours, the soup turned saucy and the tortellini were tender. While I expected the texture to be rather mushy, the tortellini were actually soft, slightly underdone, and in need of a bit more moisture. And, unlike when I prepare tortellini in boiling water — where at least a few of the cheesy pockets pop open — all of the tortellini remained tucked and intact.

With their first bites, my kids renamed this dish “pizza pasta.” I had to agree that the aroma of the cheesy cooked pasta and tomato soup smelled like pizza, but the flavor was lacking. I blame the low-sodium soup I had stashed in the pantry, because once I adjusted the seasoning with a sprinkle of kosher salt the pasta was more appealing. The allure of this dinner is its ease, not its revelatory or inspiring flavor. This is simple, easy comfort food, and some nights that is exactly what we need.

Credit: Patty Catalano

5 Things to Know Before You Make This Recipe

  1. Use dry, shelf-stable pasta. Trader Joes carries 1-pound bags of shelf-stable tortellini and miniature ravioli, and either pasta style can be used in this dish.
  2. Adjust the seasoning to taste. If you purchase the low-sodium soup, as I did, you’ll need to add salt to taste after cooking to bring out the flavor.
  3. Add 1/2 cup water. After 1 1/2 hours on HIGH, some of the tortellini were slightly underdone, but with no more liquid available. The dry pasta soaks up most of the liquid from the soup, reducing it to a thick pasta sauce. Next time, I’ll rinse the soup carton with 1/2 cup of water and pour that into the slow cooker as well.
  4. Dress it up. Several of the Facebook group members recommend adding cooked sausage to the slow cooker. Next time I’ll stir in pepperoni slices and mozzarella cheese to lean into that “pizza pasta” image. Don’t stop there: This pasta is primed for adding favorites from your fridge like baby spinach, frozen meatballs, cooked chicken, or beans.
  5. Add cheese for the finishing touch. No dish of saucy filled pasta is complete without a feathery pile of grated Parmesan cheese.
Credit: Patty Catalano