Italian White Bean Soup with Sausage Meatballs

Italian bean soup

Italian White Bean Soup with Sausage Meatballs is the coziest dinner imaginable, it’s based on a traditional Mediterranean bean soup with brilliant little sausage meatballs that take no time to make. 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! ~

Italian bean soup
4.58 from 33 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
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 8 servings
Calories 349kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 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
  • 30 ounces canned white beans or cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 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.

Cook's notes

recipe adapted from The Bettered Blondie


Calories: 349kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 1032mg | Potassium: 1092mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 8151IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 234mg | Iron: 5mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Italian white bean soup with sausage meatballs pin

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    Tina G.
    July 24, 2021 at 8:17 am

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! My husband and I loved it. We will definitely make this again.

  • Reply
    Wende Wise
    February 15, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    5 stars
    OMG! This is the BEST soup recipe!!!!!!!!!! I already went grocery shopping for the week but this morning when this email came in I high tailed it to the store to buy these ingredients! Rarely does a recipe hit me like this but given the current conditions in the Chicago suburbs, I needed pure comfort….this soup was it! ONLY change I made was after I sautéed the veg, I added a 1/4 C. white wine and proceeded with the recipe as is…FANTASTIC! All Sue’s recipes are fail safe but this is going to be a favorite of mine for years to come! Thank you Sue!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 15, 2021 at 7:23 pm

      Thank you Wendy, this warms my heart 🙂

  • Reply
    February 11, 2021 at 6:47 am

    5 stars
    Oh my goodness………..made this last night and ohhh how good…… The combination of flavors along with the fresh herbs is delightful….. I’m far from a novice in the kitchen (been cooking for my husband for 45 years), but I find I always learn something new from your blog……….thank you Sue!

  • Reply
    February 6, 2021 at 9:25 am

    How well does this store in the fridge? I want to make it a few days ahead and just heat up at the last min….will this soup be ok with that?

  • Reply
    February 4, 2021 at 12:34 pm

    How would you make this in a crock pot?

  • Reply
    February 4, 2021 at 7:44 am

    Hi Sue this looks great so now I need to go shop for ingredients,we have Chard growing in the backyard how would you recommend using it and how much? Would like to use the stalks. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      February 4, 2021 at 8:18 am

      You can use a couple of big handfuls, or to taste, it’s adjustable. I’d remove any tough stalks, and chop the tender stalks in a small dice.

      • Reply
        February 4, 2021 at 10:21 am

        Thanks will do.

      • Reply
        February 5, 2021 at 7:13 am

        5 stars
        This was very good I used some leftover kale and chard from the garden but used 1/2 teaspoon of the rosemary b/c our plant is quite potent now,so plenty of flavor from the bundle.Also used link sausage and just pinched off 1″ after removing the casing,this going into our soup do again file.Thanks again for a another great recipe.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2021 at 7:22 am

    5 stars
    Just what I was looking for to make on game day! Sounds healthy and fabulous!!

  • Reply
    October 29, 2020 at 7:44 am

    5 stars
    I’ve made this soup twice now. The first time I made it I wasn’t quite satisfied with it but at the same time I wasn’t sure what it was that bothered me. It tasted kind of . . . muddy, for lack of a better word. The only thing I wasn’t real familiar with in it was the saffron, so I made the soup again with about a quarter of the original saffron called for and viola! – that was it! Either I’m especially sensitive to saffron’s flavor or the product I buy is really potent, but I do recommend cooks making this for the first time start with a reduced amount of saffron and adjust it up as you taste, if you are especially sensitive to herbs and spices. For me, 1/8 teaspoon of saffron really made the soup shine without overpowering any of the other fabulous flavors. Thanks again for another great meal, Sue!

  • Reply
    August 30, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    5 stars
    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
      February 4, 2021 at 7:29 am

      Ha! Ha! This happens to me sometimes and it is most likely the wine slowing me down! Happy Cooking!

  • 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.

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