Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

The future is looking bright, but is it really necessary to have food kits delivered to our kitchens when something as delicious as this tortellini soup is so easy?

Education prepares the youth for a world they will never live in.  We offer the young’uns the wisdom of our experience and hope they will be more prepared for today’s world than we were for ours.  T’was always thus, of course.  When we were young, our parents and teachers had no idea that something called “technology” would be important somehow.  I remember a teacher struggling to wrap her mind and tongue around the brave new word, “environment”.  “It means sort of everywhere,” she chirped with false confidence.  We were in Grade 6 and full of curiosity.  “But we already have a word for everywhere.  The word is ‘everywhere,’” we pointed out.  “It’s everything all arounds us,” she soldiered on. “Sort of a combination of everywhere and everything”. We weren’t convinced.  I shudder to think what a hash she would have made of the Internet!  

And yet, they tried their best.  They taught us cursive writing, both the Zaner Bloser method and the more modern Palmer.  These things were important.  There were holes in our desks for ink pots, but the inkpots were already relegated to the ash heap of history.  There were spelling rules and slide rules and the Dewey Decimal System.  We memorized important dates and capitals, poems and the periodic table.  We were armed for whatever the future would bring.  

Before long, the first cracks began to appear in the elegance of our elders’ world view.  Heated debate ensued about how the calculator was the first step on the slippery slope to perdition.  The invasion of the television was just about the last straw!  Though we squealed at Elvis and gazed lovingly at the handsome, yet noble Dr. Kildare, parents were mollified by the model households of Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver.  Such shows assured them that the world was a solid, stable place, and everyone understood the role they had to play.  Girls learned to cook and sew.  Boys learned mystical things in shop class.

Although all this seems quaint and charming now, as we look back, it actually did its share of damage.  We, the children of that generation were well prepared for the world of their parents but were sadly knocked sideways by the world in which we actually were destined to live.  No judgment.  All generations do this.  We have no other choice.  Except perhaps to teach elasticity of mind.

But the damage?  As children watching those shows, we internalized the expectations of that time.  Father knew best.  Mother soothed every woe with something freshly baked.  Dad went off to work in a suit and tie and returned home spouting wisdom and witticisms.  The problems of the children were easily solved and everyone appeared like clockwork for dinner at six – a dinner Mother invariably pulled out of a hat like a magic trick.  

Well, you know the rest.  After the sixties blew into town, the parents who had so carefully followed all the rules and cherished all the expectations, ended up with social shell shock, gathering in clusters with like-minded friends to share their worries and woes and perhaps a cocktail or two.  And their rebellious children carried the remnants of those expectations like a dormant virus.  

We tackled education with zeal, built careers, married, had kids, and placed the burden of those expectations upon ourselves like a curse.  Mom not only worked.  Full-time.  But she tried in vain to pull the magic dinner out of some non-existent hat and felt the full weight of guilt if she used a cake mix!  Dad came home looking shot at and hit, fresh out of wisdom and witticisms.  And the kids were never home because they had a full slate of activities designed to keep them too busy to dabble in drugs or other shenanigans.  

The remnants of the expectations of Leave it to Beaver are fading as folks living in the real world of today emerge battle weary but unbowed from sessions with their therapists.  We have to let ourselves off this hook of having to be someone else’s vision of perfection. We simply have to let it go.

And just when we thought the only thing to do was to just give up and give in, what should come rolling into town but the newest food trend that bills itself as the answer to our prayers.  Dinner kits!  Gourmet meals pre-measured and prepped with clear instructions – and delivered to your door!  Could this be the magic hat?

Slow down, you say.  That’s expensive.  They respond that you would be saving gas and eliminating the expensive food waste caused by your impulsive good intentions while in the grocery store.  Perhaps a point.

But the packaging is not good for the environment!  Well, they say, neither is your gas-guzzler, and you buy things in the store that are encapsulated in plastic anyway.  And they assure you that they try to avoid unnecessary plastic where feasible.  

But we’re suspicious.  We eye the truck in town.  We are lured.  Might just have to give that a try.  Soon.  

But until you do, here’s a recipe to tide you over: 



·   1 Tbsp olive oil

·   1/2 lb. Italian sausage

·   1 yellow onion 

·   2 cloves garlic 

·   1/2 lb. carrots (about 3-4) 

·    15 oz. can stewed tomatoes* 

·   1/2 tsp dried basil 

·   1/2 tsp dried oregano 

·   Freshly cracked pepper 

·   3 cups vegetable broth 

·   3 cups water 

·   8 oz. cheese tortelloni 

·  1/4 lb. fresh baby spinach 


1.     Add the olive oil and sausage to a large soup pot (if your sausage is in casings, squeeze it out of the casing). Sauté the sausage over medium heat, breaking it up into pieces as you stir, until it is browned and cooked through.

2.     While the sausage is cooking, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the pot and continue to sauté until the onions are soft and transparent.

3.     While the onions are sautéing, peel and slice the carrots. Add the carrots to the pot and sauté for just a few minutes more.

4.     Finally, add the stewed tomatoes (with all the juices from the can), basil, oregano, and some freshly cracked pepper. Use your spoon to break the tomatoes into smaller pieces.

5.     Add the vegetable broth and water to the pot. Place a lid on top, turn the heat up to high, and bring it up to a rolling boil. Once boiling, add the tortelloni, and continue to boil until the tortelloni is tender (about 8 minutes).

6.     Turn the heat off, add the spinach, and stir until the spinach has wilted. Taste the soup and add salt if needed (I did not add any, but it will depend on the salt content of the broth you use).


*Stewed tomatoes have been cooked with herbs and add a unique sweetness to the soup. If needed you can use regular canned diced tomatoes, but it will change the flavor of the soup. 

We lived through the past, we have slogged through the present and perhaps we have seen the future - and there it is heading for your driveway as we speak!