Budget Meal: Tortellini Soup


Confession: I really really really wanted carbonara last night. I knew that I had cream in the fridge, a bit of a pecorino, eggs, and a couple slices of bacon in the freezer, so I trekked home with high hopes of a totally unhealthy meal. Well, folks, I apparently had other uses for that bacon because it was MIA. Honestly, I don’t have a clue what I did with it. I’m sure it got used in some pasta or as the base for a hearty tomato sauce, but the bacon mystery totally foiled my artery-clogging plans for dinner.

Well, I couldn’t really justify spending more money on ingredients from Whole Foods when I have a well-stocked pantry (and I may have already changed into pajama pants by this point…). Since it’s been pretty chilly this week, I settled on this low calorie soup. Because I used tortellini, it was quite filling and wound up being the perfect solution to my Italian comfort food craving.


A quick note on ingredients: the above are my favorite type of sun dried tomatoes. They’re not packed in anything, so you just get some concentrated tomato flavor; plus, they rehydrate beautifully. I get them at the Korean grocery store by my mom’s. I’m sure you can make them yourself, but these cost me just under $2 and they last forever if you keep them in the fridge. I highly suggest scouring your local ethnic grocery stores for some.

And, with that, happy eating!

Tortellini Soup
This lovely last-minute invention comes in under $2 per serving. If you can only find tomatoes packed in oil, don’t use any extra olive oil.


  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ shallot, finely diced
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 32 oz low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 8 oz dried cheese tortellini
  • ¾ cup frozen peas
  • 3 oz baby spinach
  • Grated pecorino cheese (optional)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes–until the onions have started to soften and the tomatoes have started to soften. If using tomatoes packed in oil, just throw them and the onions into the pot without any olive oil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock, half the fresh parsley, and the oregano. Bring to a boil.
  • Once the broth is boiling, add the tortellini. After about two minutes, add the frozen peas. Bring back to a boil and cook until the pasta is tender. About two minutes before the pasta is done, stir in the spinach and the remaining parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove from heat and ladle into bowls. If you’d like, top with cheese, pepper flakes, and a splash of vinegar.

Serves 3.


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