This satisfying, cozy white bean soup with sausage and veggies is packed with nutrition, heat and fantastic flavors. It’s a perfect meal in a bowl with a hunk of crusty bread.
The soup is easy to make and, with any luck, you’ll have great leftovers the next day. Needless to say, it’s a perfect make-ahead soup.
My friend, Cathy K. shared this hearty Italian soup recipe with me. I tried it and loved it. I know my husband loved it too because he polished off half the pot in one sitting.
There are many similar recipes on the internet. This is a good one. As with most soups, both Cathy and I tweak them to our tastes. You can too.
The core ingredients are sausage, beans and tomatoes. I added lots of veggies and some baby pasta to amp up the nutrition and comfort factors. The pasta thickens the soup slightly, making it a cross between a soup and stew.
What to expect
- This soup has all the components I love in a soup:
- versatility (add what you like or have on hand)
- exceptionally good nutrition
- comforting and filling
- one-pot meal
- tons of flavor
- The soup is also highly versatile with variations in ingredients, alternative cooking methods (slow cooker and instant pot methods are in the recipe notes) and tips for vegetarian and low salt dietary options.
- Leftovers are even better then next day, perfect for dinner on busy weeknights.
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Here are the main ingredients with several variations and substitutes you can try.
- Cannellini beans (white kidney beans) are mild, creamy white beans common in Italian cooking. Different types of beans to consider are great northern beans, red kidney beans (stronger flavor), navy beans and butter beans (larger).
- So many choices here – spicy, mild, cooked, fresh, chicken, turkey, pork, beef. Here’s a good article on sausage types from Spruce Eats. .
- Fresh sausages (used in this recipe) such as hot Italian sausage, sweet Italian sausage or Chorizo. Or mild fresh farmers or garlic sausages. For fresh sausages, remove the meat from the casings before pan-frying. Most of the fat is drained out of the sausage when you saute it which means less fat in the soup.
- Smoked cooked sausages—such as andouille or kielbasa can be added during the simmer phase as no pan frying is needed. Even a smoky hot dog will work.
- Vegetables: We use onions, carrots, celery and spinach. Other good options are zucchini, mushrooms and green beans.
- Broth: Use vegetable broth or chicken broth. If you want a creamier broth, you can add a small splash of heavy cream or half-and-half (10%) cream.
- Vegetarian version: Replace the sausage with a vegetarian sausage such as Beyond Meat or leave it out altogether. And, of course, substitute the chicken broth with vegetable broth. For added depth, add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste or replace the canned tomatoes with homemade fire roasted tomatoes.
- Low salt version: Skip the Parmesan cheese. Use low-sodium chicken broth, cans of low-salt beans and low-salt tomatoes.
- Pasta: I like orzo in this soup, but you can use any small pasta like acini di pepe, baby penne, fine egg noodles, macaroni, etc. Leave out the pasta if you prefer (the soup will be thinner). Or replace it with diced potatoes.
- Spice level: You can control the heat to some extent by buying the sausage as spicy as you like. If you are using a less spicy sausage, just add a pinch of chili flakes to make up the difference. If you like it extra spicy, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Step by step instructions
- Instead of dicing the vegetables with a knife, throw them into a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. It’s fine if a few bigger pieces remain.
- Buy cooked smoked sausage and slice it into small pieces. With this option, you can skip pan-frying the sausage.
- The sausage and bean soup will keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for 4-5 days. If it thickens up too much in the fridge, just add more broth.
- This is also a great recipe for freezing. Make sure it’s in a sealed, freezer-safe container and it will freeze well for several months. Defrost and reheat in the microwave or in a pot.
What to serve with bean and sausage soup
Yes. This hearty soup is high in fiber, protein, potassium and iron and contains considerable vitamin A and C. It’s also pretty low in saturated fat as you can drain off most of the fat once the sausage is cooked.
San Marzano tomatoes are sweet and less acidic than most other types of canned tomatoes, making them a great option for soup and sauces. But they are not as readily available as regular whole or diced tomatoes. Another option and an easy-to-add smoky flavor to the recipe is to use fire-roasted tomatoes.
You can, but just keep in mind that dried cannellini beans will have to be soaked anywhere between 10 and 24 hours before using them.
More hearty soup recipes
- vegetable barley soup
- root vegetable soup with barley
- ground beef vegetable soup recipe
- red lentil soup recipe with vegetables
- chicken lemon orzo soup Thai-style
- French onion soup recipe (instant pot)
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White Bean Soup with Sausage and Vegetables
- 2 teaspoon vegetable oil or olive oil
- 1 pound spicy Italian or turkey sausage, casing removed, Note 1
- 2 large carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
- 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 5 cups chicken broth or chicken stock (or vegetarian broth/stock)
- 1 14.5-ounce (411 g) can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained, Note 2
- 1/2 cup orzo pasta, Note 3
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach (or chopped swiss chard or kale)
- Garnish: fresh grated Parmesan cheese optional
seasonings (Note 4)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- CHOP VEGETABLES: Dice onions, carrots and celery into small pieces. Shortcut: alternatively, cut vegetables into large chunks and pulse them in a food processor a few times until coarsely chopped.
- SAUTE SAUSAGE: Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage meat, using a spoon to break it up in the pot. Saute for about 3-4 minutes until browned. Drain off most of grease, leaving about 2 teaspoons in the pot.
- SAUTE VEGETABLES: Add onions, carrots and celery to the pot. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic and spices. Sauté another 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
- ADD LIQUIDS, BEANS AND ORZO: Add diced tomatoes, chicken broth, beans and orzo. Stir. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer on medium-low for about 20 minutes until vegetables and pasta are tender.
- FINISH AND SERVE: Add fresh baby spinach and stir one minute until wilted. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve in bowls sprinkled with Parmesan cheese if desired.
- Sausage options:
- Use any fresh sausages such as spicy Italian sausages or Chorizo. Or mild fresh farmers or garlic sausages. The sausages can be mild, medium or very spicy – as you like. For a shortcut you can used a cooked smoked sausage like andouille (and skip the pan fry step).
- For vegetarians, use a vegetarian sausage such as Beyond Meat or leave it out altogether.
- Bean options: Cannellini, white navy, red kidney, pinto beans, butter beans, great northern beans are all good options.
- Pasta options: Instead of orzo, try acini di pepe, baby penne, fine egg noodles, macaroni, etc. Leave out the pasta if you prefer. Or replace it with diced potatoes.
- Seasonings: Use the equivalent of seasonings you like. Thyme, oregano, basil, sage, herbes de province are good options. You can also use a dried Italian seasoning blend.
- Other variations to try:
- Low salt version: Skip the Parmesan cheese. Use cans of low salt beans, low salt tomatoes and low sodium broth.
- Vegetables: We use onions, carrots, celery and spinach. Other good options are zucchini, mushrooms and green beans. Spinach can be replaced with fresh kale or swiss chard. Or with frozen spinach.
- Make Ahead:
- The sausage and white bean soup will keep well in the fridge in a sealed container for 4-5 days. If it thickens up too much in the fridge, just add more broth.
- The soup can also be frozen for several months. Defrost and reheat in the microwave or in a pot.
- Sauté sausage for 5 minutes. Add onions and veggies. Sauté another 5 minutes, then garlic for 30 seconds. Turn instant pot off.
- Add seasonings, broth, tomatoes and beans. (not pasta)
- Lock in lid. Set Pressure to high for 5 minutes. Do natural releases for 10 minutes. Stir.
- Turn on Sauté funtion. Add pasta and cook until tender.
- Stir in spinach until wilted.
- Sauté sausage in a skillet. Add veggies (not including spinach) and garlic. Sauté another 3 minutes
- Transfer to slow cooker and add all other ingredients except spinach, pasta and beans.
- Cook on High for 4-6 hours. Or Low for 8 hours.
- Add beans, pasta and spinach. Cook on high for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender.