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.
2/3poundItalian sweet sausage meat
fresh cracked black pepper
1medium yellow onion, finely diced
3carrots, peeled and diced
2stalks celery, diced
48ounceschicken broth or stock
1bundlefresh rosemary and fresh thyme stems, tied
215-ounce cans white beans or cannellini beans, drained
1/2cupfreshly grated Parmesan cheese
1large bunch spinach leaves (remove any thick stems)
1 tspfresh minced rosemary
salt to taste
1tsplemon 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.