Comfort Dinner Recipes Fall Gluten Free Mediterranean Soup Winter

Italian White Bean Soup with Sausage Meatballs

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Italian White Bean Soup with Sausage Meatballs is the coziest dinner imaginable, it’s based on a traditional Italian bean soup with brilliant little sausage meatballs that take no  time to make. Family dinner, game day, holiday potluck, this hearty soup is a keeper.

Italian white bean soup with sausage meatballs in a white bowl

This sunny Italian white bean soup with sausage has a lot going on, so let’s break it down ~

  • it’s made with chicken broth, but the soup gets its sunny yellow color from a touch of saffron.  A little cream gives the soup more body.
  • finely diced onion, carrot, and celery
  • canned cannellini beans (2 cans makes it extra hearty)
  • mini sausage meatballs that have been coated in fresh black pepper give the soup a warm heat
  • a nice amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese enriches the soup
  • fistfuls of fresh spinach added at the very last minute


a bowl of Italian white bean soup with sausage meatballs

The stars of this comforting bean soup have to be the spicy pepper coated sausage meatballs.  

They’re so easy to make because the sausage meat is all ready to roll (genius!!) no messy mixing required. I grind fresh black pepper onto a plate and then scoop and roll sweet Italian sausage meat into small balls. The coating of pepper gives the meatballs, and the soup, a pleasant hint of spice. Be sure to use sweet Italian sausage for this, the spicy would be too hot.

making pepper coated sausage meatballs

I first encountered this technique for making sausage meatballs while making Jamie Oliver’s Easy Sausage Carbonara

I knew it would only be a matter of time when I found another use for them.  I used packaged sausage meat, but you could also just remove the casings from regular Italian link sausages.

making sausage coated meatballs for Italian white bean soup

Fresh spinach brings a vibrancy and healthy punch to the soup.  

In direct counterpoint to the spicy sausage balls is the gorgeous fresh green spinach. Just pinch off the lower stems and throw in a couple of big handfuls at the end of cooking.  It wilts down in seconds.  Use kale if you prefer, but be sure to chop or shred it, since it’s tougher than spinach, and it may need a few more minutes to cook down.

fresh spinach in water

I enjoy this soup because it’s just different enough from the other classic Italian soups I know and love, like my Italian Sausage and Bean Soup, and my Italian Minestrone Soup.   For one thing this one has a chicken stock base rather than a tomato base, and that little touch of cream gives it a different vibe.

Can you make this bean and sausage soup in the Instant Pot?

  • Yes, technically you can, but you wouldn’t need the pressure cook function, just the sauté mode.  The directions would be the same as for stove top.
  • The Instant Pot’s KEEP WARM function is ideal for soups.

a bowl of Italian white bean soup with Parmesan cheese

Comforting soups for every day of the week! ~

Add to Your Recipe Box
4.45 from 25 votes

Italian White Bean Soup with Sausage Meatballs

Italian White Bean Soup with Sausage Meatballs is the coziest dinner imaginable, it's based on a traditional Italian bean soup with brilliant little sausage meatballs that take no  time to make. Family dinner, game day, holiday potluck, this hearty soup is a keeper.
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Yield 8 servings


  • 2/3 pound Italian sweet sausage meat
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 48 ounces chicken broth or stock
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 bundle fresh rosemary and fresh thyme stems, tied
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans or cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 large bunch spinach leaves (remove any thick stems)
  • 1 tsp fresh minced rosemary
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar (optional)


  • Grind a layer of black pepper on a dinner plate. I use a medium coarse grind. Scoop sausage meat with a small 1 inch scoop and roll into round balls, then roll the balls in the pepper to lightly coat. Add more pepper as needed.
  • Lightly coat the bottom of a heavy soup pot with olive oil and heat until hot. Brown the sausage meatballs, in two batches, until browned all over, and then remove to a plate. I like to give the pot a shake and swirl right after adding the meatballs to keep them round and get all sides an initial browning.
  • Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot and add more olive oil if needed. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables just start to soften.
  • Add the broth, saffron, and herbs to the pot, along with the beans and meatballs. Give everything a good stir and bring up to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, just until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in the cream and Parmesan and then add the rosemary and spinach. Bring back to a simmer and taste to adjust the salt if necessary. If the soup seems to need brightening, I will sometimes add a squeeze of lemon or a teaspoon of sherry vinegar.


recipe adapted from The Bettered Blondie

Italian white bean soup with sausage meatballs pin

You Might Also Like


    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    August 30, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    This was SO good!! My husband has already asked me to make it again … and he’s not a big soup fan. Thank you for a yummy & easy recipe.

    • Reply
      August 30, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      I’ll be making it on repeat this fall for sure 🙂

  • Reply
    August 16, 2020 at 10:49 am

    5 stars
    This right up my alley! I love this kind of soup, and I make something similar, but with kale. I would love either one in this kind of soup. Not long ago I made a version of this with kale and chopped up celery root in it, and it was delicious! The meatballs would be fun.

  • Reply
    Joy Goode
    August 16, 2020 at 6:47 am

    I really love your posts and recipes…but your site has become so bogged down with advertisements/unrelated videos which makes finding the actual recipe difficult and annoying. I have followed your blog for several years and have witnessed its commercial transformation, not for the better.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2020 at 8:51 am

    5 stars
    This is a winner recipe!!

  • Reply
    January 14, 2020 at 9:09 am

    5 stars
    By far one of the best soups I’ve ever made! I replaced the spinach with kale, because I had it on hand and I prefer the texture. The broth has so many layers of flavor! I doubled the recipe so we would have some in the freezer. So, so good!

    • Reply
      January 14, 2020 at 9:25 am

      Thanks so much Loni <3

  • Reply
    January 6, 2020 at 8:53 pm

    5 stars
    What a wonderfully delicious soup! Thank you so much. I do have one question. How did you prep all of this in 15 minutes? I know I’m somewhat slow but it took me almost 2 hours to prep everything. If you know some shortcuts please pass them on.
    Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes!

  • Reply
    January 2, 2020 at 10:14 am

    5 stars
    I made this yummy soup this evening. I used dried white beans so it took a bit longer but it was easy to take the amount I needed from those. I kept the spinach on the side since I’m the only one who likes it. I added it to my bowl. My family (husband and 2 teens) loved it! Thanks so much for a delicious, easy recipe!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2019 at 11:07 am

    5 stars
    Made this last night, only changes were we only rolled half the sausage balls in Pepper, and deglazed with white wine after each batch. This is my new favorite soup! So happy we made this. Thank you Sue!

    • Reply
      December 8, 2019 at 11:26 am

      Yay, I’m so happy Kimberly. Those meatballs are such a great trick…

  • Reply
    Vincent Danna
    December 6, 2019 at 8:47 am

    5 stars
    OK, I have never left a comment about a recipe anywhere but had to do so now. Made this the other night and WOW was this good! I made it in my Instant Pot which wasn’t the best idea but it was still amazing. I decided to try it in the Instant Pot but what it did when it heated up the soup under pressure was to burst all of the beans. That being said this was probably one of the best soups I have ever had. Great flavor and relatively easy to make. The sausage was a bit messy to heat up but I will know for next time LOL. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Reply
      December 6, 2019 at 9:01 am

      I’m so glad it worked out so well for you Vincent!!

  • Reply
    November 18, 2019 at 7:47 pm

    How much is a “bundle” of herbs?

    • Reply
      November 18, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      It’s not a precise amount, just gather a bunch of sprigs, maybe 1/2 inch in diameter.

  • Reply
    low and slow
    November 15, 2019 at 7:20 am

    5 stars
    Could turmeric be subbed for the saffron ?

    • Reply
      November 15, 2019 at 7:53 am

      Yes, but the flavor is different, so be sure you like it.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    5 stars
    Sue it’s the color that drew me into this amazing soup, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it! I love your recipes, by the way!

    • Reply
      November 14, 2019 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks Deb, I totally agree, and I also love the way the cream gives it an opaque quality.