Rustic Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup

adapted from the Kitchn

Yield:  2-4 servings 

Neutral flavor cooking oil, such as canola
1 pound bulk mild Italian sausage
1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 to 3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1/2 cup dry red wine (Chicken stock may be substituted.)
1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes, San Marzano if available
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Parmesan rind (or a small hunk of cheese) 
1 (9- or 12-ounce package) fresh or frozen tortellini (I used cheese filled.)
2 cups roughly chopped spinach
Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste

Shaved Parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil, for serving

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil into a large Dutch oven.  Place it over medium-high heat until shimmery. Add the Italian sausage but do not break it up.  Sear on each side until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes on each side.  Once both sides are a golden brown, break up the sausage into small pieces.  You want a nice layer of caramelization on the bottom of the pan.  Use a slotted spoon transfer the sausage from the pan to a bowl.  Leave the fat in the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the chopped onions and carrot coins, then sprinkle with salt.  Cook the onions and carrots until they have softened, about 8-9 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and cook until you smell the aroma, about 15 seconds.  Add the red wine and bring to a boil allowing the wine to cook out.  While the mixture boils, stir to release the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. 

Add the canned tomatoes and juices to the pot. Cut the tomatoes into bite-size pieces using our kitchen shears.  Add the chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, Parmesan rind, and cooked sausage. Season with salt, fresh ground pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the tortellini.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the tortellini is heated through, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the spinach to the pot and stir until wilted.  Taste and adjust the seasonings.  Remove the Parmesan rind before serving.  Ladle the soup into bowls.  Drizzle with a nice extra virgin olive oil and a few shavings of parmesan.

NOTE:  Serve with some crusty garlic bread.

When reheating the leftover soup, add some additional chicken stock.