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
4.64 from 41 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.

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  • Reply
    October 24, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    4 stars
    This soup was wonderful. Very healthy and easy to make. I didn’t add the saffron. Didn’t have it, and it’s so expensive. Did I really miss it? I don’t know, because I’ve never had it! I used kale instead of spinach because I have it in the garden. For us, the soup was very flavorful and different from our usual soups. We will definitely be having it again. Yummy!

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