Dig into a bowl of this light yet creamy Sausage Kale White Bean Soup! The beauty of this soup is that it strikes the perfect balance between cozy and healthy. It’s packed with healthy ingredients like kale, fennel and white beans while also being super satisfying thanks to the Italian sausage and creamy milk-based broth. For the ultimate all-in-one cozy dinner, serve each bowl with a crunchy piece of Parmesan toast. 

creamy soup in a shallow white bowl with white beans, kale and sausage and a cheesy toast set in the soup

Why I Love this Tuscan White Bean Soup

This white bean sausage soup is part of my SOUP-er Simple Series. If you’ve been following along you know that means it has a short ingredient list, quick cook time, and loads of flavor.

I love how this soup recipe is cozy and comforting while also being light and healthy. The true definition of healthyish! It features bold, flavorful ingredients like Italian sausage, garlic and red pepper flakes while also being packed with nutritious ingredients like fiber-rich kale, white beans and fennel.

To keep the ingredient list short I used only the most necessary ingredients. And instead of calling for a fresh herb I recommend using the fennel fronds from the fennel bulbs we’re using in the soup. Fennel fronds add a lovely note of fresh flavor to this Italian white bean soup.

creamy soup in a large Dutch oven with white beans, kale and sausage

Ingredients in Sausage Kale White Bean Soup

The name gives most of the ingredients away, but here’s the full list! Keep in mind I don’t list oil, salt and pepper.

  • Yellow onion, white onion would be a great substitute.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, if you don’t have red pepper flakes, you can use black pepper. And if you prefer a more mild soup, skip this altogether.
  • Bulk Italian sausage, hot or mild work here but I find hot adds more flavor and character.
  • Fennel bulbs, reserve the fronds for use as an herb at the end. If your fennel bulbs come trimmed, without the stalks and fronds, consider finishing the soup with chopped fresh parsley.
  • Fresh garlic
  • Low-sodium chicken broth, homemade broth or stock would be absolutely delicious here if you have it.
  • Tuscan kale, you can use any dark leafy green you prefer or have on hand.
  • Canned cannellini beans, canned beans are a weeknight lifesaver! Great Northern beans are also a great option.
  • Whole milk, if you need this to be dairy-free you can substitute any unsweetened, unflavored nut milk or canned coconut milk. And if you want something a bit more comforting and decadent, feel free to use half-and-half or a combo of milk and half-and-half.
  • White wine vinegar is important for balancing all of the flavors. If you find most soup recipes fall flat, they likely need a splash of some sort of acid (vinegar or citrus juice) at the end. 
  • Thick-sliced bread & Parmesan cheese for the Parmesan toasts, which are totally optional! 

Storage tip: store this Italian white bean soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

creamy soup in a shallow white bowl with white beans, kale and sausage and a cheesy toast set in the soup

FAQ & Test Kitchen Tips 

Why do you call for low-sodium chicken broth?

My answer may be contrary to what you expect—this isn’t for decreasing sodium levels. Low-sodium broth is important for controlling the seasoning level. I’d rather you season every component as you go instead of relying on broth to season everything. If you season in stages, the entire soup, and all of its components, will taste better.

I don’t like kale, can I use anything else?

Swiss chard, collard greens and mustard greens are all great options. If you don’t like hardy greens you can use fresh spinach instead.  

What can I substitute for fennel?

Red potatoes, parsnips, or celery would all be great options. They will have different cook times, so keep an eye on the soup and check for tenderness occasionally. 

I can’t do sausage. What other meat would you suggest / replace the sausage with?

You could definitely use ground pork, turkey or chicken. I would opt for 85% lean ground meat for the best flavor (you can always drain off some of the drippings). I would then add some crushed fennel seed (if you have it), a bit more red pepper flakes and a dash of ground nutmeg (again, if you have it) to the meat while it cooks. This will give you that “sausage” flavor.

More soups from the SOUP-er Simple Series

Did you make this Italian white bean and kale soup with sausage? Let me know how it went—leave a comment and star-rating below. And if you snapped a pic, share it on IG and tag me @zestfulkitchen. I love seeing what you make!

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creamy soup in a shallow white bowl with white beans, kale and sausage and a cheesy toast set in the soup

Sausage Kale White Bean Soup with Parmesan Toast

  • Author: Lauren Grant
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cups (6 servings) 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This delicious soup recipe is perfect for busy weeknights. A simple ingredient list and easy process gets this one-pot meal on the table in 30 minutes. Enjoy a bowl of this Sausage Kale White Bean Soup with a piece of crunchy, cheesy Parmesan toast.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, hot or mild
  • 2 fennel bulbs, fronds reserved
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped (2 tablespoons)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (about 9 cups)
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Parmesan Toast, optional

  • 6 thick-cut slices whole-wheat or sourdough bread
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium.
  2. Add onion, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes; cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
    diced onions cooked in oil with red pepper flakes in a large dutch oven
  3. Add sausage and cook, crushing with a wooden spoon, until cooked through and browned, 6–8 minutes. Drain all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot.
    diced onion and sausage cooked in a large Dutch oven
  4. Meanwhile, quarter fennel bulbs lengthwise, then slice into ½ inch-thick slices (you should get 4–5 cups). Add fennel and garlic to pot and cook 2 minutes.
  5. Add broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over medium and cook until fennel is nearly tender, about 5 minutes.
    sausage, onion and sliced fennel bulb in broth in a large Dutch oven
  6. Meanwhile make Parmesan Toasts. Heat broiler to high with rack set 6-inches from element. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet and broil until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Flip bread and top with Parmesan, dividing cheese evenly between toasts. Broil toasts until Parmesan is melty and starting to brown, 2–3 minutes; set aside.
  7. Stir kale, beans and milk into soup; cook until kale is wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar and season with additional salt, red pepper flakes and vinegar to taste.
    kale and white beans in a large Dutch oven
  8. Serve soup with Parmesan toast and reserved fennel fronds
    creamy soup in a large Dutch oven with white beans, kale and sausage


Notes

If you’ve got a Parmesan rind floating around in the fridge or freezer, plop that in as the soup simmers. It will infuse the broth with salt, savory goodness.

Nutrition of 2 cups soup + 1 full cheesy toast: 527 cal, 25g fat, 10g sat fat, 54mg chol, 1300mg sod, 45g carb, 9g carb, 7g sug, 32g pro


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 cups soup
  • Calories: 398
  • Sugar: 5.5g
  • Sodium: 1063mg
  • Fat: 20g
  • Saturated Fat: 7g
  • Carbohydrates: 33g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Protein: 22g
  • Cholesterol: 40mg

Keywords: Sausage kale white bean soup, White bean and sausage soup, Tuscan white bean soup, White bean and kale soup, Italian white bean soup, White bean kale soup

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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  1. This soup is so delicious! Full of flavor and so creamy. I did add some Parmesan rind and it was fabulous. I’ll make this soup often!