PENINSULA KITCHEN: Crisp, fall evenings inspire recipe re-do

A request from her daughter, combined with the cool autumn evenings, sends Sanford in search of tortellini recipe.

LIKE CLOCKWORK, FALL descended and I felt like making soup or stew.

Even on crisp sunny days, the evenings got chilly recently, and nothing sounded better than a pot simmering on the stove, some hearty bread and a warm bowl of something substantial.

Abby, our 11-year-old daughter, started asking for tortellini.

In all honesty, I couldn’t remember if she’d ever eaten tortellini.

Raviolis, absolutely, but the twisted knot of pasta and filling specific to the tortellini shape?

I was a little surprised she knew the word.

I felt inclined to combine our needs as well as use up the end-of-season tomatoes and greens coming in from our local farm share with a pound of breakfast sausage skulking about in the back of our fridge.

I tinkered around with a few recipes and came up with a delicious soup that filled the bill for all three of our family members.

My husband and daughter both took the leftovers for lunch the next day.

I call that a win.

As I started to write this piece, I did a search of my hard drive for “tortellini” to see what recipes I’d used for inspiration and came across a file from 2009.

Ah yes.

In a flood of food memories, I remembered 4-year-old Abby asking for “turtle-ini soup.”

Of course she knows what tortellini is and apparently has warm memories from soups I made long ago and have since completely forgotten about.

None of this should be surprising to me, of course, because human stories circle around and around again.

Nothing is truly new.

There’s comfort in the rhythm of seasons.

Lessons learned: You’ve definitely done this before, whatever “this” is.

Make a double batch and freeze half for later.

Turtleini, tomato, greens and sausage soup

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 1 lb Italian sausage (or breakfast sausage with added herbs, see note*).

• ½ cup minced onion (about ½ a small onion)

• 1 tablespoon minced garlic

• 4 to 6 cups broth, chicken or vegetable

• 4 cups chopped very fresh tomatoes or 1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes

• 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil or pesto

• Salt and pepper to taste

• 4 to 5 servings fresh, frozen or dried tortellini

• One bunch chard leaves, stripped from the stalk and chopped or 1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves

• ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan, very loosely packed

*Note: If you do not have Italian sausage on hand, you can spice up regular breakfast sausage and get a similar flavor.


In a 3-quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.

Sauté the onion and garlic, stirring often until onions are translucent.

Crumble the sausage and Italian spices, if adding, into the pot and cook until the sausage is no longer pink.

Add broth, tomatoes, basil or pesto, salt and pepper, and turn heat up to high, bringing to a boil.

Add the tortellini and cook according to package instructions.

When the tortellini is almost done, add greens and taste, adjusting seasonings with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately.

Garnish each serving with a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Take the time to moosh all of this together into the raw meat with your hands if you like that sort of thing, but I simply added it all to the soup with the sausage.

The key to the Italian sausage flavor is the fennel, so don’t skip that part.

For one pound of breakfast sausage, add 1 teaspoon each of fennel seeds, basil, oregano, garlic powder and dried parsley; and ½ teaspoon each of onion powder, dried rosemary and black pepper.

Add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you’re feeling spicy.


Carrie Sanford, who shares the Peninsula Kitchen column with Betsy Wharton, is a mother, wife, educator, artist, activist and cook.

She writes the newsletter for Salt Creek Farm in Joyce during the growing season and volunteers with nonprofits and schools in Port Angeles, where she lives with her husband, Tom Sanford, and their daughter, Abby.

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