tortellini and heirloom bean soup

I’m really not much of a gardener.

I’d love to be that girl with a green thumb who spends hours tending her garden and then cooking the fruits of her labor. The last time I had a garden I was eight years old and wore a red checkered bonnet and a homemade dress that perfectly matched my Kirsten doll. With the help of my mom, I planted a small and tidy vegetable garden in the backyard of our Florida home. That garden was my pride and joy. For the first two weeks. But then I uprooted all the radishes one month after planting them because I was just too impatient to wait for them to grow. I would uproot then re-plant the potatoes, checking daily to see if they had grown in size (they never did). I forced miniature carrots down my three year old brother’s throat while I pulled him around the neighborhood in a little red wagon. Finally, I lost interest completely and moved on to the kitchen.

The next time I planted something I was twenty six and after eighteen years, thought it was time to try again. Minus the bonnet. And the red wagon.

So, I scattered these swiss chard seeds last June and said a prayer. And to my disbelief, they actually grew! And grew. And grew. And grew. But the problem this time wasn’t that I was impatient or overzealous. This time, I just completely forgot about my “garden” altogether.


Only when my little garden started completely taking over Adam’s front yard (oops again) did I decide to harvest my crops and actually do something constructive with them. Like, make a soup.

This soup has a light flavorful tomato base and is full of bursting spinach tortellini, MY swiss chard and beans! I actually won a package of beautiful Rancho Gordo heirloom dried beans at the Foodbuzz festival last weekend and couldn’t wait to cook ’em up.

They went perfectly in this soup! I can’t believe this is my first time making tortellini soup. The little tortellini reminded me of cheesy dumplings and this was such an easy and quick way to make a meal out of them!

So cheesy and comforting and the perfect lunch on a chilly Monday. By the way, I’m still eating lunch at 10:30 and dinner at 4:30 over here.

I can’t quite get used to the time change.

Tortellini and Heirloom Bean Soup

serves 6-8

Print this recipe!


2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large fennel, diced

64 oz vegetable or chicken stock

1 28-oz can whole tomatoes in juice

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 package fresh tortellini pasta (either cheese or spinach)

2 cups either pinto, kidney or heirloom beans, either canned or cooked from scratch

3 cups fresh spinach or chopped swiss chard

Parmesan cheese for serving


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy pot. Add the garlic and chopped fennel and saute for three-five minutes, until the fennel just begins to soften.

Quickly pulse the tomatoes in a blender or food processor to just barely puree (you still want some chunks). Add the chunky pureed tomatoes to the pot along with the stock, salt and pepper.

Bring the soup to a boil before adding the tortellini and beans. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about seven minutes until tortellini are puffy and cooked through. Add the swiss chard or spinach to the pot and stir so that the greens wilt.

Serve soup with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and additional salt, pepper or red pepper flakes to taste.


30 minutes


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  • Emmy (Wine and Butter)
    November 8, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Oh Jenna! I am so glad you also eat meals about 3 hours before the rest of the world! I do feel somewhat justified, because I do wake up at 5.45 am every day, but then – when I have dinner at 6 in the afternoon I curse myself thinking how STARVING I am going to be on those days when I actually have to wait for my husband or (heaven forbid) go out for a later dinner with a friend!
    This looks great – Im not really a pasta person, because I find it somewhat flavourless – but floating in soup!? That I could go for!

  • Khushboo
    November 8, 2011 at 3:17 am

    I kinda wish it was cold over here so I could make this :)!

  • Sweet and Savvy
    November 8, 2011 at 3:32 am

    Ah! It is the perfect comfort food! πŸ™‚ thanks for the recipe!

  • Lys
    November 8, 2011 at 3:35 am

    I swear I have a “black thumb.” Basil plants, rosemary and lavender bushes have all died an untimely death in our little apartment. I’ve tried watering them everyday, not watering them so much, giving them lots of sun light. No. As if they knew I took them away from their friends at the nursery, they threw a temper tantrum, throwing their leaves everywhere, and then, like an overdramatic Shakespearean character, committed plant-suicide.
    Long story short, plants and I don’t get along.
    Farmers market where someone else grew the plants with love? Sure.
    Seriously jealous of your chard garden lady, and the soup looks absolutely hearty and divine. Thanks for sharing!

  • Mallory
    November 8, 2011 at 4:06 am

    The soup looks amazing! I have always dreamed of planting a garden and then eating from it all summer/fall, and then canning what I couldn’t eat…but that hasn’t happened as of yet. There is always next year! hehe. Have a great week and thanks for the soup recipe…looks delicious!

  • Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga
    November 8, 2011 at 4:21 am

    That soup looks and sounds so good! The pics are incredible. I love how you managed to keep the spinach leaves so green and vibrant in the ladle shot. Impressive!

  • Faith @ For the Health of It
    November 8, 2011 at 4:24 am

    I wish I could garden too, but it’s just not in the cards for me – at least not while I’m in an apartment! I even killed the basil plant I had in my window. Sad day πŸ™

  • jenna
    November 8, 2011 at 4:35 am

    this looks cozy. I love that you planted swiss chard. it looks fab.

  • Hilliary @ Happily Ever Healthy
    November 8, 2011 at 4:44 am

    love the story about the garden! This soup looks delicious, one of those perfect winter soups! Thanks for sharing!

  • Heather (Heather's Dish)
    November 8, 2011 at 4:45 am

    i never actually saw the winner’s beans, but those are so pretty! who would have thought that beans would be so gorgeous? i am all about the comforting soups lately and now i’m thinking i’m going to order a bag of pretty beans just for that πŸ˜‰

  • Molly @ RDexposed
    November 8, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Eh, my strawberry plants turned surprise tomato plants are took over the boyfriend’s front steps for about an extra 3 months before he finally did away with them. πŸ™‚
    I wish I had these ingredients on hand right now since it’s rainy out right now. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Katrina
    November 8, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Mmm this sounds so fresh and yummy!

  • Sally
    November 8, 2011 at 4:56 am

    This looks like the perfect winter soup!!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    November 8, 2011 at 5:04 am

    I can’t get used to the time change either… I was in bed at 8:30 last night! The soup sounds delicious, and congrats on the bean win!! πŸ™‚

  • Amanda
    November 8, 2011 at 5:08 am

    I would love to have a small yard to plant a garden. Instead, I’m settling for a large potted plant on my small porch. πŸ™‚ I also planted a couple of things like parsley and basil, but always forget about them. I’m not great with plants. haha

    I really like the simplicity of this soup. I’m planning on making a tomato stew later today!

  • Jen
    November 8, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Not used to the time change…haven’t you been moved for a couple of years now? πŸ˜‰

    It’s a relief that your not a green thumb too actually! Some cooks and bloggers seem so “perfect” with their gardens, recipes, etc. and perfection is tiresome. Would this work in a crock-pot with a grain instead of tortellini?

  • Fran@ Broken Cookies Don't Count
    November 8, 2011 at 5:17 am

    This soup sounds delicious! I’m going to try it!

  • Lauren @ What Lauren Likes
    November 8, 2011 at 5:20 am

    Looks fantastic! So warm and hearty….yummm πŸ™‚

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin
    November 8, 2011 at 5:29 am

    That’s so awesome that you grew your own chard! I’m not much of a gardener either, but this gives me hope that maybe I can grow something without killing it too. I’d love to try a few crops next summer!

    Recipe looks great! πŸ™‚

  • Analiese
    November 8, 2011 at 5:54 am

    Ohhhh, yum! This looks so good, especially the little tortellinis. This reminds me of a soup I made in my slow cooker recently. The ingredients were similar, but I swapped out the chard for kale and added some fresh sage and basil I happened to have on hand. I’m intrigued by the addition of fennel. I adore fennel, but always forget about it for some reason! I’ll have to try this recipe soon. Thanks friend!

    P.S. I recently had the chance to take a class with Baron Baptiste, and I can honestly say that it revived my love for yoga. I can see why you love his style so much. I was thinking of you during my downward dogs! (Hopefully that doesn’t sound creepy…haha.)

  • Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter)
    November 8, 2011 at 5:58 am

    I REALLY want a garden, even though I’m not entirely sure I have the capacity to grow stuff in the ground like veggies and flowers….. but I’d like to try! Too bad I live in a cement jungle right now. πŸ˜‰

  • tracy
    November 8, 2011 at 5:58 am

    what ever happened to the book you were writing?

    • jenna
      November 8, 2011 at 6:38 am

      It’s coming out in Sept of 2012!

  • amy walters, aDESIGNdock
    November 8, 2011 at 6:11 am

    I’ve got zero green thumb…so I completely relate to your “oops” forgot about the garden thing! Maybe there’s still hope for me too!

  • Kristina
    November 8, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Those beans look fantastic! I’m planning on making Heidi Swanson’s “A Good Soup for the Sick” tonight and those would be perfect… I have bean envy.

    I had a Kirsten doll growing up, too – I was pretty convinced we were actually the same person, because we had similar names and both lived in Minnesota. Didn’t have any of the matching dresses though… I think that’s where my mom drew the line πŸ™‚

  • Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day
    November 8, 2011 at 6:43 am

    That looks wonderful. I LOVE the addition of fennel… and yay for the chard!.. it’s such a great plant to grow

  • Lisa @ Life in Green
    November 8, 2011 at 6:50 am

    I think any recipe with the name ‘heirloom’ sounds fantastic. I’m putting this on my soup list….at this rate I’ll be making soup every night for dinner.

    And keep up on the gardening….even those without ‘green’ thumbs can have very productive gardens. I always suggest doing raised bed gardening in containers or larger beds built out of cedar. So much easy to manage and keeps you in the gardening groove throughout the season.

  • Cait's Plate
    November 8, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I HAD KIRSTEN TOO!!! My sisters had Molly and Samantha and we would play EPIC games.

    Anyway, I hear ya on the lack of a green thumb. I so wish I could be that girl too, but the truth is, I kill flowers within a day of having them, so I think I need to give up that dream…

    Soup looks incredible!

  • Stephanie Rose
    November 8, 2011 at 7:02 am

    i made a similar soup like this for my going away party and it was a huge hit! this looks great!

  • Gina @ Running to the Kitchen
    November 8, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Swiss chard always reminds me of our garden growing up. I can distinctly remember walking into the kitchen in the late summer and my mom sauteing the swiss chard on the stove that we grew in the garden. Tortellini soup is always a good option. It’s my go-to actually instead of chicken noodle when I’m sick.

  • Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine
    November 8, 2011 at 7:12 am

    This is such a pretty soup! I love pretty food!

  • Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food
    November 8, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Great looking soup! Tortellini are one of my favorite things to put in soup!

  • Kristin
    November 8, 2011 at 7:29 am

    YUM! This looks and sounds SO delicious! Great combination.

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb
    November 8, 2011 at 7:34 am

    i have killed every living plant that enters my life. i swear, i put a vase of fresh flowers on my table and they die. just like that!

    regardless, i’ll leave the harvesting to someone else and try this soup out asap. i love me some tortellini!

  • Cat @Breakfast to Bed
    November 8, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I have never had tortellini and beans together. It sounds intoxicating. Also? I really think you should get a bonnet.

  • Jacqueline
    November 8, 2011 at 7:52 am

    That looks amazing! Looks boy friendly too.
    P.S There’s a hair on the fork in your soup. Might wanna tell the chef. πŸ˜‰

  • Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles
    November 8, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Yum. Perfect fall soup recipe. Gardening and cooking can be a fabulous combination…Until you end up with 30 pounds of tomatoes per day and have to figure out what to do with them all when you what you really want for dinner is chocolate cake.

    • Bobbi McCormick
      November 8, 2011 at 8:25 am

      I hear you Andrea! I had to learn to can this year πŸ™‚

  • Bobbi McCormick
    November 8, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Hubby has the best green thumb, it comes from his dad the farmer! I love to eat all that comes from the Garden, but I do not have that wonderful art of gardening in my blood. This recipe sounds simple and a lot of the stuff I already have on hand! I will have to make it soon πŸ™‚

  • Moni'sMeals
    November 8, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Yes to this! I am just going to say, that your pictures sealed the deal for me. This is one to remember for the cool weather coming soon.

    Thanks Jenna. πŸ™‚

  • Kiran @
    November 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I hope Orlando gets colder soon – I can’t wait to dive into a hot bowl of soup. Literally, of course πŸ˜‰

  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)
    November 8, 2011 at 10:57 am

    funny gardening story! I don’t have a green thumb AT ALL! it’s quite pathetic!

    I love tortellini soup! so comforting especially in this freezing weather lately!

  • Ashley
    November 8, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Your soup looks delicious, a recipe I want to try. I don’t have much a green thumb either. I’m actually housing potted-house plants that were my mother’s, but she recently moved back to Canada and Canadian laws prohibit U.S. soil from crossing the border. So far so good, they’re still alive!!!!

  • Sarah @ newlyeverything
    November 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    We live in a high rise and I have been debating an “urban garden” since we moved in. I probably need to stick to herbs for now but that swiss chard must feel like an accomplishment! My husband is obsessed with soup so this is going into recipe circulation!

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen
    November 8, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I just want to curl up with a bowl of this and my favorite throw blanket. This would have been perfect for the rainy day we had last weekend.

  • Liz @ iheartvegetables
    November 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    That looks SO amazing. I love the idea of using tortellini in the soup!

  • Michelle
    November 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Made this tonight for supper. Like all your recipes it was great! It was quick, delicious and healthy! Thanks again!!

  • tafino
    November 13, 2011 at 9:32 am

    So impress about the garden! The soup looks delicious and really healthy!

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  • Kelan
    November 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I made this soup tonight and the flavor was delicious, but I found it to be a little too thin with not enough filler. What size package of tortellini did you use?

    Also, I had never used a fennel bulb before and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to use the whole thing? Bulb and sprigs?

  • Stuart Freeman
    December 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

    I’m looking forward to trying this wonderful soup! I am however in the same boat as a few others, not having used fennel before I’m not sure what part of the fennel (and how much of it) I should be using. Can I get some advice on this?

  • Tortellini and (heirloom) bean soup | justonemorebiteplease!
    May 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    […] So what did my brother and I do? We made soup. Something that warms you up even more. We are ridiculous. But this soup was ridiculously delicious AND easy. Perhaps we will crank the A/C, get really cold, and eat up all the soup. I found the recipe on this new food blog I found (it’s not really new, just new to me), where the author, Jenna, is living my dream. SheΒ is a classically trained chef, food photographer, freelance food writer and recipe developer. Β Dream job. Her blog is called Eat, Live, Run (okay, a little close to Eat Pray Love) and she’s fun to read and posts fun things on Facebook – they IPO-ed today, in case you live under a rock. She posted this recipe and I promise I didn’t pick it because it was so simple to make. I liked how it sounded – light and Italian-y, which it is. Here’s the link, since it’s her recipe. Β […]

  • Katie
    May 17, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    My brother and I just made this! We loved it!!! Thanks!

  • Phoebe
    November 10, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Currently it sounds like Expression Engine is the preferred blogging
    platform out there right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what
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