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    Meatball Tortellini Zuppa Toscana

    This Meatball Tortellini Zuppa Toscana is just the soup you need on a blustery winter night. With hearty sausage meatballs and pillowy tortellini in a creamy broth, it’s the epitome of comfort food.

    And, this soup can be cooked on stovetop, or in a crock or instant pot. If you love regular Zuppa Toscana, this recipe takes it to a whole new level!

    This Meatball Tortellini Zuppa Toscana is a fun and comforting twist on the popular Olive Garden soup.

    The wind has been howling for days here in Florida, and the sun hasn’t been making very regular appearances. That means it’s soup time!

    We’ve been making plenty of soups lately, from light and healthy Chicken and Stars to rich and decadent Hungarian Mushroom Soup.

    Today’s recipe is a unique twist on the Olive Garden favorite.

    Why You’ll Love It

    • Big Time Flavors: The combination of Italian sausage meatballs and smoky bacon creates a flavor base that’s hard to beat.
    • Comfort: This soup is pure comfort food. It’s hearty and filling, perfect for those chilly evenings when you need something to warm you up from the inside out.
    • Fun Factor: Both meatballs and tortellini are always a hit with all ages.
    • Ease and Convenience: Despite its gourmet taste, this recipe is surprisingly easy to make. It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner or for impressing guests without too much hassle.
    • Adaptability: You can easily adjust this recipe to suit your tastes or dietary needs, making it a versatile option for any kitchen.
    White bowl full of creamy soup with meatballs and tortellini.

    Ingredient Notes

    • Italian Sausage: This is a key ingredient for the meatballs, providing a lot of flavor. Choose mild or spicy depending on your heat preference. For a healthier option, you can use turkey or chicken Italian sausage.
    • Breadcrumbs: They help bind the meatballs. Because the sausage has a lot of flavor on its own, use plain breadcrumbs or panko.
    • Bacon: We like thick-cut bacon for a meatier texture.
    • Onion and Garlic: Standard aromatics.
    • Crushed Red Pepper: Adjust the amount to suit your heat tolerance.
    • Dry White Wine: This deglazes the pot and adds flavor. If you prefer not to cook with alcohol, you can substitute with more chicken broth.
    • Chicken Broth: Low sodium broth is recommended, since the sausage and bacon add salt to the soup.
    • Dried Oregano and Thyme: These herbs add classic Italian flavor. Fresh herbs can also be used if you have them on hand. Remember to use about three times the amount compared to dried.
    • Tortellini: We use cheese tortellini, but you can try any other varieties for different flavors.
    • Kale: A nutritious addition, it adds color and texture. Baby spinach is a good substitute if you’re not a fan of kale.
    • Heavy Cream: This gives the soup a rich, creamy texture. For a lighter version, you can use half-and-half.

    Step By Step Instructions

    For slow cooker and instant pot directions, see further down the post. Here is the stove-top method.

    1. Combine all meatball ingredients, taking care not to overmix. Roll into equal-sized meatballs about 1¼ inch across.
    2. Fry bacon in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed soup pot until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate, and remove all but about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pot.
    3. Add meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
    4. Add onion. Sauté until it begins to soften up. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds.
    5. Pour in wine and stir to deglaze the pot. Add chicken broth, oregano and thyme, and return meatballs and to the pot. Crumble cooked bacon and add about ¾ of it into the soup. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reads at least 165°F with an instant read thermometer.
    6. Add in tortellini and kale. Cook until kale is wilted and tortellini is fully cooked, about 3-4 minutes.
    7. Stir in heavy cream. Remove from heat. Serve in bowls, garnished with remaining bacon, along with parsley and parmesan cheese.
    Pot of soup after cooking.

    Variations

    Pasta Alternatives: You can use other types of pasta like ravioli, farfalle, or even orzo. Or omit the pasta altogether and use potatoes like regular Zuppa, or even gnocchi.

    Veggie Variations: Try adding other vegetables like carrots, celery, mushrooms, or bell peppers for extra nutrition and color.

    Extra Flavor Boosters: To give your soup a flavor twist, add in some sundried tomatoes or Pesto Sauce.

    Low-Carb Version: For a keto-friendly option, skip the tortellini and add more vegetables like cauliflower. We have a great recipe for Keto Zuppa. You’ll also want to omit the breadcrumbs in the meatballs.

    Crockpot Method

    Make Meatballs: Combine sausage, egg, milk, breadcrumbs. Form into 1¼ inch meatballs. Optionally, brown in skillet for extra flavor.

    Cook Bacon: In skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Crumble and set aside some for garnish.

    Sauté Vegetables: In bacon fat, sauté onion, then add garlic and red pepper. Deglaze with wine.

    Assemble in Slow Cooker: Transfer onion mixture, broth, oregano, thyme, meatballs, and most bacon to slow cooker.

    Slow Cook: On low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

    Add Tortellini and Kale: 30-40 minutes before serving, add tortellini and kale and cook on high setting.

    Finish with Cream: Stir in heavy cream just before serving.

    Garnish & Serve: Garnish with reserved bacon, parsley, and Parmesan cheese.

    Instant Pot Method

    Sauté Bacon: Use the sauté function to cook bacon until crisp. Remove, crumble, and set aside for garnish. Leave about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot.

    Brown Meatballs: Brown the meatballs in the Instant Pot. Remove and set aside.

    Cook Onion and Garlic: Sauté onion, then add garlic and crushed red pepper.

    Deglaze with Wine: Add white wine to deglaze the pot.

    Add Broth and Seasonings: Pour in chicken broth. Add oregano, thyme, meatballs, and most of the bacon.

    Pressure Cook: Seal the lid, set to high pressure, and cook for 7 minutes.

    Quick Release & Add Tortellini and Kale: Perform a quick release, then add tortellini and kale. Use the sauté function to cook until tortellini is tender.

    Finish with Cream: Stir in heavy cream.

    Serve: Garnish with remaining bacon, parsley, and Parmesan cheese.

    Leftovers and Storage

    This meatball tortellini soup refrigerates well for 3-4 days. First, allow it to cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container for refrigeration.

    Reheat it in a pan on stovetop over medium heat until heated through.

    We do not recommend freezing creamy soups, as the texture can change.

    A Few Tips

    • Refrigerate the Meatballs: If time allows, refrigerate the meatballs for at least 30 minute before browning. This helps them hold together.
    • Browning the Meatballs: When browning the meatballs, make sure they develop a nice crust on all sides. This not only adds flavor to the meatballs but also to the soup through the browned bits left in the pan.
    • Sautéing Aromatics: Don’t rush sautéing the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant. This step is crucial for building a flavor base.
    • Deglazing the Pot: When adding wine to deglaze the pot, scrape up all the browned bits from the bottom. They’re packed with flavor and will enrich your soup.
    • Adjusting Seasonings: Before serving, taste the soup and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
    Bowl of this soup garnished with parsley, bacon bits and shredded parmesan cheese.

    The next time you crave a comforting bowl of soup, this is the recipe to try. It’s sure to be a hit with the whole family!

    Pin or bookmark this easy recipe so you always know where to find it. And be sure to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you.

    For more delicious meals, check out our hand-picked collection of Dinner Ideas for Tonight. Until next time, happy cooking!

    Meatball Tortellini Zuppa Toscana, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Bowl of meatball zuppa on the Gypsy Plate.

    Try these other great soups!
    Portuguese Bean Soup
    Hungarian Mushroom Soup
    Caldo de Res
    Pizza Soup
    Birria Ramen
    Yakamein
    Sancocho

    Featured image for meatball tortellini zuppa toscana recipe.

    Meatball Tortellini Zuppa Toscana

    Yield: 6-8 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 35 minutes
    Total Time: 50 minutes

    This Meatball Tortellini Zuppa Toscana is a fun and comforting twist on the popular Olive Garden soup.

    Ingredients

    Meatballs

    • 1 pound Italian sausage
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 Tbsp milk
    • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs

    Soup

    • 6 slices bacon
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
    • ¾ cup dry white wine
    • 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
    • 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 1 tsp dried thyme
    • 20oz refrigerated cheese tortellini
    • 6 cups chopped kale
    • 1 cup heavy cream

    Instructions

    Stove Top Method

    1. Combine all meatball ingredients, taking care not to overmix. Roll into equal-sized meatballs about 1¼ inch across. (see note 1)
    2. Fry bacon in a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup pot until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate, and remove all but about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease from the pot.
    3. Add meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
    4. Add onion. Sauté until it begins to soften up. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 30 seconds.
    5. Pour in wine and stir to deglaze the pot. Add chicken broth, oregano and thyme, and return meatballs and to the pot. Crumble cooked bacon and add about ¾ of it into the soup. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reads at least 165°F with an instant read thermometer.
    6. Add in tortellini and kale. Cook until kale is wilted and tortellini is fully cooked, about 3-4 minutes.
    7. Stir in heavy cream. Remove from heat. Serve in bowls, garnished with remaining bacon, along with parsley and parmesan cheese.

    Slow Cooker Method

    1. Make Meatballs: Combine sausage, egg, milk, breadcrumbs. Form into 1¼ inch meatballs. Optionally, brown in skillet for extra flavor.
    2. Cook Bacon: In skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Crumble and set aside some for garnish.
    3. Sauté Vegetables: In bacon fat, sauté onion, then add garlic and red pepper. Deglaze with wine.
    4. Assemble in Slow Cooker: Transfer onion mixture, broth, oregano, thyme, meatballs, and most bacon to slow cooker.
    5. Slow Cook: On low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
    6. Add Tortellini and Kale: 30-40 minutes before serving, add tortellini and kale and cook on high setting.
    7. Finish with Cream: Stir in heavy cream just before serving.
    8. Garnish & Serve: Garnish with reserved bacon, parsley, and Parmesan cheese.

    Instant Pot Method

    1. Sauté Bacon: Use the sauté function to cook bacon until crisp. Remove, crumble, and set aside for garnish. Leave about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot.
    2. Brown Meatballs: Brown the meatballs in the Instant Pot. Remove and set aside.
    3. Cook Onion and Garlic: Sauté onion, then add garlic and crushed red pepper.
    4. Deglaze with Wine: Add white wine to deglaze the pot.
    5. Add Broth and Seasonings: Pour in chicken broth. Add oregano, thyme, meatballs, and most of the bacon.
    6. Pressure Cook: Seal the lid, set to high pressure, and cook for 7 minutes.
    7. Quick Release & Add Tortellini and Kale: Perform a quick release, then add tortellini and kale. Use the sauté function to cook until tortellini is tender.
    8. Finish with Cream: Stir in heavy cream.
    9. Serve: Garnish with remaining bacon, parsley, and Parmesan cheese.

    Notes

      1. If time allows, refrigerate the meatballs for at least 30 minute before browning. This helps them hold together.

    Nutrition Information
    Yield 8 Serving Size 1
    Amount Per Serving Calories 683Total Fat 37gSaturated Fat 17gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 128mgSodium 1019mgCarbohydrates 53gFiber 4gSugar 5gProtein 33g

    Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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