This post has been updated for content and photos since its original publication in 2014.
This flavorful, broth-y, homemade Tuscan sausage soup has been a family favorite for years. Made from everyday ingredients and pantry staples, like hot Italian sausage, canned white beans and kale with a few handfuls of dried pasta, it’s a simple, hearty soup that’s ready to eat in about an hour. I use Tuscan white beans (Cannellini, a.k.a. white kidney beans) and diced canned tomatoes in this one pot meal. Small pasta like macaroni, shells or orecchiette and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese add Italian flair to the spicy sausage and veggie blend. Best of all my Tuscan white bean and kale soup is ready to eat in about an hour. The whole family loves this one.
You know those go-to recipes we all have? I’m talking about those tried and true favorites that EVERYONE loves? This Tuscan sausage soup with pasta white beans and kale is one of THOSE. Deeply flavorful, super quick and easy and it feeds a crowd… The best part are the ingredients. Ones we usually have on hand in the fridge and pantry. Consequently, you can have a hearty bowl of spicy sausage and vegetable soup any night of the week. Here’s what you need:
Tuscan white bean sausage and kale soup ingredients
- Olive oil
- Italian Sausage
- Chicken Broth
- Dried Basil
- Dried Oregano
- Bay Leaves
- Canned Diced Tomatoes
- Canned Tuscan White Beans (Cannellini)
- Fresh Kale
- Small Pasta (Elbow Macaroni, Mini Shells or Orecchiette)
- Parmesan Cheese
This quick and easy recipe is based on a recipe my friend, Nola shared with me years ago. I love it because it’s such a simple, throw together dish and it REALLY delivers on flavor. The key is the spicy Italian sausage. It infuses the broth with a rich, tingly flavor that’s irresistible.
(Note: If you don’t have spicy Italian sausage, you can use sweet Italian sausage and augment it with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes for zing.)
Start by removing the casings from the hot sausage, then brown the meat with a little olive oil in a large dutch oven breaking it up into bite sized chunks with a wooden spoon.
Layering the flavors in Tuscan sausage soup with aromatics
When we speak of aromatics in cooking, we’re talking about vegetables, (like onions, ginger, chiles, garlic) that add moisture, flavor and roundness to overall dishes. Without them, so many soups, stews and braises would taste flat — like something is missing. Virtually every country in the world has a combination of aromatics that they call on regularly to give a distinctive bent to their regional dishes.
A few examples of aromatic blends:
Mirepoix – is a French term referring to the combination of carrots, celery, onion. Oftentimes garlic is added as well.
The Holy Trinity – Cajun and Louisiana cooking uses a mix of onions, bell pepper and garlic as the base to gumbos, jambalayas, étouffée and the like.
Chinese cuisine – frequently uses garlic, green onions, chiles and ginger as a flavor base.
Sofrito/Soffritto – a blend of onions, garlic and tomato is a common base for Spanish, Portugese and Italian dishes.
Suppengrün – a mix of leeks, carrots and celeriac is a German flavoring base.
Smazhennya/Zazharka – a Russian/Ukrainian blend of onion carrot possibly celery beets or pepper is a common mix in this region of the world.
For Tuscan white bean and kale soup with spicy Italian sausage, I use celery, onion, carrots and garlic. Sweating the chopped veg with the browned sausage not only rounds the flavors, but it also provides an olfactory punch and makes the whole house smell delicious and inviting. Additional dried Italian herbs (oregano, basil and bay leaves) add to the soup’s Tuscan flair.
Tuscan sausage soup is very popular with my daughter, Emily, because of the “dump and go” nature of it. She loves the idea of opening up a few canned goods and emptying them into the pot. To her, it’s cooking… without the commitment. I concur. These short cuts save time, but don’t detract from the robust flavors in the sausage, white bean and kale soup.
Dry and canned goods from the pantry
Canned Tomatoes – Use a can of petite diced tomatoes in their own juices. No need to drain, just open the can and dump it into the soup.
Cannellini Beans – Many times when I use canned beans, I rinse them first — but not in this case. The saucy bean liquid actually adds body to the spicy sausage soup. Again, just open and dump! You’re welcome.
Chicken Broth – I’m a BIG proponent of homemade chicken stock and would definitely recommend it in this soup, however, if you’re fresh out, don’t fret. This soup works beautifully with store-bought broth (just be sure to use a low sodium broth because the Italian sausage adds a fair amount of salt to the mix).
Pasta – I’ve made this soup with all sorts of small-ish pasta, from macaroni to orecchiette to shells. I’m sure there are other pasta shapes that would work equally well, however, I’m particularly fond of the shells because the vegetables, sausage and Tuscan beans will tuck themselves inside the curved-cup of the shell pasta. It’s a perfect match.
What’s the best type of kale to use?
The final flourish is chopped kale. You can use Lacinato (a.k.a. Tuscan) kale or regular curly kale in this soup. There’s no special preparation other than removing the tough stems and giving the dark green leaves a rough chop. I recommend kale for this soup because it’s sturdy and holds up well to the other players in the spicy sausage, pasta and white bean soup.
What are the best substitutions for kale?
If you don’t have kale (or don’t like it), you can substitute other greens. Chopped escarole lettuce is rugged as well and would make a good stand in. Collard greens are another option. You can also use fresh spinach, however, if you do, follow these steps…
- Wait until you’re ready to serve the soup, because spinach wilts very quickly and will lose its vibrant color and flavor if it sits too long.
- Add small handfuls of spinach and stir completely into the tuscan sausage soup before adding another handful. This allows it to more evenly distribute throughout the pot, otherwise, it will tend to clump together and that’s not what we’re going for.
Avoid any greens with a strong flavor or aroma, like turnip greens which might overpower the other flavors.
How long will the soup last?
It should keep refrigerated for up to one week, however, the pasta tends to continue to absorb the liquid as it rests, which does two things. 1. The pasta gets soft and 2. there’s less broth in the soup. To avoid this, you can either cook the pasta separately and add it to the soup as needed or (if you don’t mind softer noodles) just add more broth to the leftover soup as you reheat it.
Can I freeze the soup?
Theoretically, yes. I’ve never done it because it never lasts long enough to freeze with my hungry family. If you do freeze it, I would definitely recommend cooking the pasta separately and add it to the individual bowls just before serving. This will keep the soup at its optimum. Thaw before reheating.
The best spicy Italian sausage soup
Every spoonful of this hearty Tuscan sausage white bean and kale soup is filled with tasty little morsels. A bit of carrot here, chewy greens there, chunks of Italian sausage, creamy Cannellini beans and perfect al-dente pasta shells. The broth is rich, spicy and utterly mouthwatering. Get ready, friends — this one will be your new favorite too.
What to serve with Tuscan sausage soup:
- Cheddar Chive Popovers
- Black Pepper Parmesan Biscuits
- Spicy Hatch Chile Cornbread
- Soft Parmesan Dinner Rolls
More easy soup recipes:
- Hearty Vegetable Minestrone
- Leftover Turkey Alphabet Soup
- Belly Warming Ham Hatch Chile Soup
- Southwestern Chicken Taco Soup
- Ham Bone Split Pea Soup
If you’re a fan of big, bold, hearty flavors — this soup delivers every time. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Bon appetit!
Spicy Sausage Soup with White Beans, Shells & Kale
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound spicy italian sausage
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 2 medium celery stalks diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 14- ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 19- ounce can cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- 3 cups kale roughly chopped, tough stems removed
- 1 1/2 cups medium shell pasta see note
- 1 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat, add sausage and break apart with a fork while browning. Cook until sausage is no longer pink.
- Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Stir over medium heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-6 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in canned tomatoes with juice and drained beans. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add kale and simmer for 10 more minutes.
- Add pasta, cooking for 8-10 minutes until desired doneness.
- Serve immediately with grated parmesan cheese.
Pin “Tuscan Sausage Soup with Pasta White Beans & Kale” for later!