Spring Tortellini Soup with Peas and Asparagus

published Mar 20, 2021
Spring Tortellini Soup with Peas and Asparagus

This tortellini soup is the perfect dish to transition us from the winter cold into the gently warmer spring.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook1 hour

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toto en brodo in a bowl ready to eat
Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

This tortellini soup is the perfect dish to transition us from the winter cold into the gently warmer spring. Both the deeply flavorful broth and the cheesy tortellini are cozy enough for winter, but light enough for the brighter months ahead — and the addition of early spring vegetables like peas, pea leaves, and asparagus give it a vibrant green color to match the sprouting leaves outside. A squeeze of lemon juice, a little dollop of pesto, and some extra shaved Parmesan bring each bowl to life.

A Simple Springtime Soup, Inspired by Tortellini en Brodo

When I think of tortellini soup, my mind immediately goes to tortellini en brodo, an Italian dish hailing from the Emilia-Romogna region. It’s traditionally served on Christmas, and the process of making it takes at least a few days: a dark, rich stock is made by boiling capon (a male chicken), the meat is ground with Parmesan and mortadella or prosciutto to create the filling, and then this mixture is stuffed into small tortellini.

While I’ll always prefer to make this dish from scratch, sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day (or enough days in the week!) to make that a reality. So when I’m craving tortellini but don’t want to make them by hand, or need the comfort of soup without spending the day simmering stock, I turn to this recipe. While there’s nothing like homemade, this gets us pretty close.

A Shortcut Stock That Tastes Homemade

Since this dish consists of very few elements, it’s important that each one gives you all the layers of flavor. This shortcut stock is inspired by my favorite homemade version, which I make with chicken, leeks, garlic, spring alliums, and a Parmesan cheese rind. If I’m feeding vegetarians, I’ll skip the chicken and just simmer the Parmesan rind and aromatics.

Here, I infuse high-quality store-bought chicken stock (or frozen pre-made stock or bone broth I keep in my freezer) with extra aromatics and a Parmesan rind and let it simmer just  long enough to allow the flavors to meld with deep cheesy flavor. Vegetarians can start with their favorite store-bought vegetable broth.

As for the tortellini, there are tons of great store-bought brands to choose from (I love this one). Keep in mind that brands vary in cook times, so be sure to cook your pasta according to package directions. And if you ever do have time, try making tortellini from scratch. This recipe would be great with tortellini stuffed with ricotta, garlic, lemon zest, and Parmesan.

Spring Tortellini Soup with Peas and Asparagus

This tortellini soup is the perfect dish to transition us from the winter cold into the gently warmer spring.

Prep time 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook time 1 hour

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


For the brodo:

  • 4

    medium scallions or spring onions

  • 4 cloves


  • 10 cups

    homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1

    (1-ounce or larger) Parmesan cheese rind (the larger the rind, the bigger the flavor)

  • 1

    large sprig fresh parsley

  • 1 pound


  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1 cup

    frozen peas

  • 1 (12 to 14-ounce) package

    fresh or frozen cheese tortellini

Serving options:


  1. Chop off the whites of 4 medium scallions or spring onions (reserve the greens for another use or slice and use for garnish). Crush 4 garlic cloves with the flat of your knife. Place both in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add 10 cups stock or broth, 1 Parmesan rind, and 1 large fresh parsley sprig.

  2. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Uncover and simmer until the flavors meld, 30 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile, trim off the woody ends of the asparagus, then cut crosswise into 1 to 2-inch pieces.

  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the scallions, garlic, Parmesan rind, and parsley and discard. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper to the broth. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed.

  4. Bring the broth back to a boil. Add 1 package tortellini and cook according to package instructions. About 2 minutes before the pasta is cooked, add the asparagus and 1 cup frozen peas. Simmer until the vegetables are bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes.

  5. Remove from the heat. Serve hot with a small dollop of pesto, a garnish of pea leaves, shaved Parmesan cheese, and lemon wedges if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.