You don’t know this about me yet, but I have a happy dance.  It’s what I do when something meets or exceeds my (usually high) expectations.  This meal had been on my mind for over a week from the time I first laid eyes on it until the time I actually made it.  I could.not.wait to try it.  A few weeks ago, the talented Maggy of Three Many Cooks posted a photo on Instagram of a meal similar to this.  Tortellini with kale pesto and peas. She often posts pics of the beautiful food she makes and it always looks good enough to eat. But this particular meal – I just had to have it, like yesterday.  I decided to improvise my own version.

There was major happy dancing going on it my kitchen when I took my first bite.  Nailed it.  It ended up being a sort of pasta/soup hybrid. There is broth, but not too much. I’ve made this kale pesto many times before and it is great in many different applications – on crostini, in bean dip, or with some eggs for breakfast, but this dish is by far my favorite way to use it.  I loved the flavor it gave to the broth mixture as well as the bright green color.  I know this recipe will be gracing our table many more times in the future and when it does, it will definitely bring on the happy dancin’.

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  • Yield about 6-8 servings


For the pesto: 

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 1½-2 cups kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt

For the tortellini:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 6 cups veggie broth
  • 16 oz. cheese tortellini
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen peas


  • 01

    To make the pesto, combine the garlic, walnuts and kale in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the processor running, add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in a steady stream through the feed tube until smooth.  Add in the Parmesan, salt, and pepper and pulse until combined. Set aside.  (Note: the kale pesto can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container.)

  • 02

    In a stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 30 seconds more. Add in the veggie broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, add the tortellini and cook according to the package directions. About a minute before the tortellini is finished cooking, add in the peas. Remove from the heat and stir in the kale pesto. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warm.