Cooking Italian Dinner Soup

A favorite activity at The Maplewood is our “Cooking with Mary Jane” series. Whenever our beloved volunteer visits, the activity room fills up with residents who are looking forward to chatting with Mary Jane as she demonstrates how to cook a delicious recipe.

Mary Jane loves to cook with fresh in-season ingredients and today she has arrived with a colorful array of produce straight from the Rochester Public Market. Her large bag of ingredients includes locally grown zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes and herbs! Wonderful aromas quickly fill the air as she proceeds to make an incredible Italian Dinner Soup for us. Tasting is the highlight of the activity and Mary Jane has once again earned our praises. Her dish has received such rave reviews that we thought we’d share it.


This adapted recipe is from The Rochester Public Market cookbook.

1 pound chicken Italian sausage
Oil if needed
1 cup onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
6 cups beef or chicken stock
1 16-ounce can tomatoes, chopped
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 large zucchini, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
1 red or yellow pepper, diced
1/2 cup dry red wine (or white if using chicken stock)
1 tsp dried basil (or 1 TBSP fresh basil, chopped)
2 tsp oregano
8 ounces cheese tortellini
Parmesan cheese, grated


  1.  In a large soup pot, brown and crumble the sausage. Add a bit of oil to prevent sticking if needed. Remove meat from the pot.
  2. In sausage drippings, saute onions and garlic until tender (about 5 minutes). If sausage is very lean and there are few drippings, add a bit of oil.
  3. Combine sausage, onion, garlic, stock, tomatoes, sauce, veggies, spices and wine in the pot; simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini and cook until they float to the top (doesn’t take long).
  5. Serve with grated Parmesan and crusty bread.