Serve up Italian sausage spinach soup that's big on flavor and packed with tons of nutrition! The soup is a simple weeknight dinner that packs in the flavor and nutrition!
Recipe: $7.50| Per Serving: $1.50 | Yield: ~5 Servings
Soup is a great way to get in lots of vegetables on a budget, and you can pack them full of rich flavor with things like herbs, spices, alliums, and today's secret ingredient: Parmesan rind!
I know that the recipe seems a little intense when you look at all the "sausage" seasonings, so feel free to use some store-bought sausage (or Moink !) and skip the "for the sausage" seasonings.
If you love soup, you might also enjoy this Easy Lemon Lentil Kale Soup and my Tomato Chickpea Soup Recipe. And if you love Italian sausage flavors, I highly recommend my sausage & mushroom bolognese!
This post was originally published in October 2015, and has been updated to include clearer instructions and new photos.
The ingredient list might first appear a bit intense but that's because of the spices! You'll find that most of the ingredients are things you are likely to have on hand.
And if you're not in the make-your-own-sausage sort of mood, just grab whatever sausage you like and skip that step.
- Italian sausage seasoning: Made with a blend of seven spices, it's the easy way to make Italian sausage at home. I like to whip up a full batch of homemade Italian sausage seasoning and keep the rest on hand for the next time! (You'll need 3 teaspoons in this recipe.)
- Ground beef or sausage: Sausage in the states is usually made with pork, but you can also use ground beef or ground turkey here.
- Broth: I highly recommend using this chicken bone broth for the best flavor! You can also use homemade vegetable broth or storebought.
- Parmesan: This soup uses the hard rind from Parmesan cheese to add umami and a touch of creaminess. The rind of Parmesan is perfectly edible, and it softens and melts into the soup as it cooks. Fish it out if you'd rather not serve it, or let it be a lucky treat for someone!
- Canned tomatoes: Give the broth more depth of flavor. You can use crushed or diced canned tomatoes depending on the consistency you prefer your tomatoes in soups.
- Spinach: To save time, this recipe uses frozen spinach. Feel free to use any greens of your choice.
Substitutions and Variations
- Use store-bought sausage: To save time or if you don't have all the spices, opt for buying Italian sausage instead.
- Boost the nutrition: Cook the soup with chicken bone broth.
- Make mini meatballs: Mix together the ground meat with the sausage spices. Form the sausage mixture into small bite-sized meatballs. Brown them on both sides and then remove from the pot and continue making the soup as directed.
- Add some orzo or rice (gluten-free!): Cook it separately. Then add it to each bowl before your pour in the soup.
- Make it spicy. Add some crushed red pepper towards the end of cooking for a bit more spice or you can use spicy Italian sausage instead of homemade.
Today's soup was inspired by this Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup, so feel free to check that out for further variations.
How to Use Parmesan Cheese Rinds in Soup?
You know that really hard outside of the parmesan cheese that you usually throw away? Here's what you probably don't know, you can throw it into sauces and soups to add salt, fat, and acid for more flavor. It also adds that umami richness we get from aged cheeses.
It's the ultimate way to utilize ALL the parts of the wedge of parmesan cheese! So why not?
- Grate up the soft part of the cheese to use on top of the soup when serving or to use in other dishes.
- Trim off the rind. You can use it now or stick it in the freezer for your next batch of soup.
- Add the rind to a pot of soup, or sauce as its cooking.
- It will likely dissolve completely into the dish. However, if there are any large chunks left you can enjoy them in the soup or discard them if you'd prefer.
PRO TIP: Cooking with parmesan rind really only works in dishes that have a broth or very liquid consistency. It's this liquid that helps the rind melt and release all its flavor.
How to Make Italian Sausage Soup with Spinach
Here's an overview of the main steps for making a pot of Italian sausage and spinach soup. The details are in the recipe card further down the page.
- Mix together the ground beef or pork with the sausage seasoning until it is well mixed. Follow these instructions for making homemade sausage if you'd like a more sausage-like consistency.
- Cook the ground meat in a large pot but DO NOT STIR. Let it brown on one side first to develop delicious flavor.
- Use a spatula to break apart the meat. Continue to cook the meat until it's done. Remove the meat from the pot, leaving some of the grease for cooking the veggies.
- Chop all the veggies into small pieces.
- Add the onions and carrots to the pot and cook until soft. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs and cook until fragrant, about 20 seconds
- Add the vinegar to the pot and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the canned tomatoes, broth, cooked sausage, and parmesan rind to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil and cook on low for about 30 minutes.
- Add the frozen spinach.
- Cook for a few minutes until the spinach is warm. Give it a taste and adjust any seasonings you want.
How to Store
- Refrigerator: Store the soup after it's fully cooled for up to five days in the fridge.
- Freezer: Store in an airtight container for up to three months. Be sure to leave about an inch of space at the top of the container as the soup will expand when frozen. Thaw it out in the fridge overnight before reheating or reheat directly from frozen.
- Reheat: Add soup (thawed or frozen) to a pot and cook over low heat until the soup is heated through. Alternatively, you can heat it up in the microwave. Add more broth or water if desired for a looser consistency.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- Cook Italian sausage soup with a parmesan rind for extra flavor! You won't be disappointed.
- Cook the sausage without moving on one side before breaking it up into pieces. This way it gets nice and caramelized brown on the outside.
- Make a double batch so you have extras! It freezes great.
It's a budget-friendly way to add flavor and a great way to use up an entire piece of parmesan.
Sure thing! You'll still need to brown the meat and sauté the veggies. Once that's done, add everything to the slow cooker and let it cook for 3-6 hours on low heat until everything is heated through. I would wait to add the spinach until the last 30-60 minutes of cooking though.
Paleo: Not as written, but you can skip the Parmesan if you want to make it Paleo.
Vegetarian: No! But if you make homemade Italian sausage seasoning, you can probably swap out the meat for white beans and crumbled tofu and have a delicious soup.
More Soup Recipes
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Italian Sausage Spinach Soup
For the sausage:
- ½ pound ground beef or pork or a mix
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon ground fennel
- ¼ teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika!
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- This is equivalent to about 3 teaspoons of my homemade Italian Sausage Seasoning
For the Soup:
- 1 medium onion minced
- 1 medium carrot small dice
- 4-8 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian herb blend
- 1 teaspoon Italian Sausage Seasoning optional
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar or wine
- 2 cans diced or crushed tomatoes 28 ounces total
- 2 cups chicken bone broth or vegetable broth
- ½ cup water
- 1 3-inch piece Parmesan cheese rind about 2 ounces
- 12 ounces frozen spinach
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- Optional: ¼ cup fresh parsley for garnish
- Optional: crusty bread for serving
- Optional: 1 can of drained white beans
- Combine the ground meat and sausage spices in a large bowl. Mix until well combined.
- Warm a large pot over medium heat and add the ground meat. DO NOT STIR. Let it brown on one side, then break it apart with a spatula and cook through. Remove from pot and set aside, leaving a couple teaspoons of the grease in the pot if desired.
- Add onions and carrots to the pot and sauté for 2-3 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and dried herbs, and stir for about 20 seconds. Add the vinegar and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and mix well.
- Add the remaining ingredients (except the spinach) - canned tomatoes, broth, cooked meat/sausage, and parmesan rind - to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Add the frozen spinach and cook for another 5 minutes or until warmed through. Taste and add additional salt if needed.
- Portion out among 4 bowls, top with some additional parmesan cheese, garnish with fresh parsley, drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil if you'd like, and serve with a hunk of crusty bread. Enjoy!