This easy chicken tortellini soup combines a rich homemade chicken stock with cheesy tortellini and fresh escarole. Curious about the difference between tortellini vs tortelloni? Read on!
Tortellini vs Tortelloni:
Before we go any further with this recipe, let’s address the elepha–er–tortellini in the room. Or is it tortelloni? Now, I’ve always called anything remotely tortellini-shaped tortellini. However, in the pursuit of accuracy, I must confess that all this time I’ve been cooking tortelloni.
So what’s the difference?
Tortellini: Smaller and more delicate, usually featuring a meat filling.
Tortelloni: Bigger than tortellini, usually featuring a vegetarian, cheesy filling.
In terms of sizing, you can expect tortellini–which hail from Bologna, Italy–to be about the size of a “thimble”. In Bologna, tortellini are typically served in a light broth (“brodo”) and served with plenty of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Tortelloni also hail from Northern Italy and similar to tortellini, they have roots in Emilia-Romagna and Modena. Tortelloni are much larger than tortellini and are typically served in a simple sauce, like butter and herbs.
I’ve found in the US, that (while incorrect), tortelloni is very commonly called tortellini. I’ve kept the incorrect pasta name in the title for easier Googling for readers but wanted to take a moment to explain the difference to those wondering.
How to make this easy chicken tortellini soup:
While this recipe is quite easy to prepare, it is still time-consuming, especially when you’re making a rich homemade chicken stock. I like to start my stock the night before or the morning of to give it plenty of time to cook down.
First, prepare the stock. Place a whole chicken in a large stock pot and cover it with water. Add bay leaves, carrots, shallots, and really any combination of your favorite herbs or aromatics. If you don’t have carrots, throw in celery. Here’s what I used:
- Carrots, cut into big pieces
- A big bunch of fresh parsley
- A few sprigs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Black peppercorns
- Crushed garlic
- Yellow oniion
Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let the chicken cook for a few hours until it’s nearly falling off the bone. At this point, you can let it cool and then transfer it to the fridge overnight. Or you can strain the stock and pick the chicken right from the bones and then continue on with the soup.
Depending on the size of your chicken and how long you simmer it, you may be left with more or less stock than what I had. Fortunately, this recipe is very amenable to modifications!
Once you’ve strained the stock and picked the chicken from the bones, make the soup.
Simply fry up some aromatics. I used onion, celery, and carrots. Next, melt the butter and add fresh or dry thyme leaves. From there, simply add the cooked chicken along with the strained stock. If need be, add a cup or two of water. You should have about 6–8 cups of liquid total in the pot. Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes.
From there, simply add chopped escarole and lemon juice.
Cook the tortellini in a separate pot and drain them. Divide them between bowls and ladle the chicken soup on top.
You can also serve this over egg noodles, cooked orzo, or even cooked pearl couscous.
Looking for more chicken recipes? Check my archives!
If you made this tortellini soup recipe, please rate the recipe below and leave a comment to tell me how you liked it! If you take a picture of it, please tag me on Instagram so I can feature you in my feed!
Easy Chicken Tortellini Soup
- Large stockpot
- Large pot
- Heatproof bowls
- 3- pound whole chicken giblets removed and discarded
- 4 carrots peeled and cut into large pieces
- 1 onion quartered
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 2-3 fresh bay leaves or 1-2 dry bay leaves
- 1 bunch parsley torn or cut in half
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 4 large carrots peeled and diced
- 3 ribs celery trimmed and diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 large head of escarole trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1 lemon juiced
- 20 ounces cheese tortelloni or cheese tortellini; do not use meat-based tortellini
- Water as needed
- Salt pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Freshly minced parsley
Simmer the stock:
- Place the chicken in a stockpot. Add the carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, and black peppercorns on top—season liberally with salt. Add enough water to cover the chicken by 1 inch.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 3–4 hours, skimming off any foam or scum that floats to the top.
Cool the chicken:
- Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside to cool.
Hard simmer the broth:
- Bring the broth to a hard simmer (just below boiling) for 30 minutes or until it reduces slightly and takes on a dark golden color.
Strain the broth:
- Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl. Discard solids. Wipe out the stockpot and return it to the stovetop.
Start the tortellini soup:
- Heat the oil in the stockpot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook them for 7–8 minutes until they soften—season with salt and pepper.
Bloom the spices:
- Melt the butter into the pot. Once bubbly, add the dry thyme and a pinch of crushed red pepper to taste.
Simmer the soup:
- Add the cooked chicken to the pot along with the homemade chicken stock. If needed, add a cup or two of water. You should have about 8 cups of liquid in the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and season the broth to your preferences.
Finish the soup:
- Add the escarole and lemon juice to the soup. Simmer an additional 10 minutes.
Cook the tortellini:
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the tortellini and cook until al dente. Drain and divide the tortellini between bowls.
- Ladle the hot chicken soup over the tortellini. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and minced parsley. Enjoy!