This soup is one of my winter staples because it's really easy, it's really good, and... I'm a little bit lazy, and really like the delicious payoff for the small amount of work. Our mom has been making it forever too, and she adapted it from Sarah Leah Chase's "Cold Weather Cooking" which is one in the long list of cookbooks she loves.
what you will need
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
9 cups chicken broth
2 tsp dried italian herb blend
9 oz tortellini
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes packed in puree
8 oz fresh spinach, washed, coarsely chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cook the bacon or pancetta over medium heat until fat is rendered, and pour off and discard the fat. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the reserved bacon or pancetta, garlic and onion; cook stirring frequently until lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.
Add the chicken broth and the italian herbs, and bring to a boil. At the same time, cook the tortellini in a separate pot until done (10-12 min), drain and set aside. If you are sure you'll serve all of the soup at once, just cook the tortellini in the broth with the other ingredients. If not, then cook separately and add the tortellini at the end. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and simmer another 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle hot soup into bowls (add tortellini now if doing separately) and top with lots of parmesan.