A hearty weeknight dinner, this Italian Sausage Soup with Spinach, Pasta, and Caramelized Fennel fills any home with the spicy-sweet scents of a meal worth savoring. Mild Italian sausage mingles with leeks and fennel caramelized to sweet perfection, then slow-simmers in a tomato-laden broth before finishing with petite ditalini pasta and fresh baby spinach. Topped with fresh grated Parmesan, this Italian sausage soup comes together in under an hour, perfect for any night of the week, and if you follow my meal prep tips below, you can easily freeze and save this soup to enjoy for months!
I know I’ve said it before, but I love soup. I could eat it every single day, and honestly, I should make soup more often.
It’s the perfect lunch, and great when I need a quick meal on a busy day since it keeps so well and makes amazing leftovers.
I’ve been trying to really stretch my skills when it comes to ground meats, as they are easier for me to digest at this point in my gastric bypass journey. The protein boost is solid, and you can’t deny the amazing flavor profiles you can create in a large Dutch oven. It’s easily my most used cookware.
What does fennel taste like?
If you’ve never tried fennel before, you are likely wondering what it tastes like. Most people associate fennel with anise or licorice, as it has a distinct aroma to it.
However, the anise flavor really only resides in the fronds, which we aren’t using at all in this Italian sausage soup.
The bulb is sliced thin and imparts a slightly sweet flavor. Caramelizing the fennel brings out the subtle sweetness even more, and paired with sliced and caramelized leeks, provides a unique tone to this dish.
Mild Italian Sausage vs Sweet Italian Sausage
When it comes to the Italian sausage used in this soup, you have three choices:
- Mild Italian sausage
- Sweet Italian sausage
- Spicy Italian sausage
You really want to go with the sweet variety. Can’t find sweet Italian sausage? No worries! Mild Italian sausage is the same thing! I tricked you there, didn’t I? Bwah ha ha.
It seems to be a regional difference on who calls it what, but they are the same. Just avoid spicy Italian sausage, as it uses different spice blends and doesn’t result in the best flavor profile.
Want to increase the heat index? Just add more red pepper flakes. I love me some slow burn sometimes.
How to make Italian sausage soup
What I love most about this soup is that you can make it all in a single pot!
- Cook the Italian sausage thoroughly, then remove from the pot, reserving the drippings
- Caramelized the fennel and leeks
- Add the aromatics, then the tomatoes and broth
- Add the Italian sausage back to the pot, then simmer
- Stir in the pasta and continue simmering, then add the spinach and wilt
- Serve with parmesan
BAM! Dinner is served. It rarely gets easier than this!
Can you freeze Italian sausage soup?
The short answer is yes!
But, if you’re planning on freezing, there are some simple modifications you will want to make to ensure it’s truly freezer-friendly.
- Pasta turns to mush if frozen, so don’t add the pasta to the main pot
- Instead, cook pasta separately and add to the soup later, before serving
- Seal pasta-less soup in freezer bags or containers that are air-tight, in small batches
You could also choose to cook the pasta in the reheated soup, to allow the pasta to absorb the flavors like it would if you weren’t making the soup for freezer prep. In which case I usually add a small amount of extra water (maybe ½ cup) to ensure the soup doesn’t turn into a stew.
I mean, unless of course, you prefer your soup to be more stew-like. I have no problem with that at all!
Italian Sausage Soup with Spinach, Pasta, and Caramelized Fennel
Get ready to indulge in the savory-sweet flavors of this hearty Italian sausage soup, a one pot meal that’s perfect for both a weeknight and weekend lunch and dinner. With caramelized fennel and leeks, fragrant aromatics, and slow-simmered in a heady tomato-laden broth, this soup is perfect topped with freshly grated parmesan. Enjoy with petite ditalini pasta and fresh baby spinach wilted to perfection. Make this soup to enjoy tonight or follow the instructions for freezer meal prep to enjoy for months!
If you like this recipe, please give it a 5 star rating.
You may also like…
- Easy Sausage and Bell Pepper Noodle Soup
- Spicy White Bean Soup with Kale and Asiago
- Easy One Pot Taco Stew Recipe
Italian Sausage Soup with Spinach, Pasta, and Caramelized Fennel
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1.5 lbs sweet italian sausage
- 1.5 cups fennel bulb sliced thin
- 1.5 cups leek sliced thin*
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup white wine
- 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- kosher salt to taste
- cracked black pepper to taste
- 64 oz low sodium chicken stock
- 28 oz petite diced tomatoes drained
- 6 oz ditalini pasta uncooked
- 6 oz baby spinach
- 1 cup parmesan cheese grated
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, followed by the Italian sausage. Cook until browned, breaking the meat up as it cooks, around 5 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving behind the juices in the pot.
- Reduce heat to medium and add remaining olive oil, followed by the fennel and leek. Saute, stirring occasionally, until fennel is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, around 1 minute. Add the white wine and cook until mostly evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and continue cooking until fennel and leek are browned and caramelized, 3-4 minutes more.
- Add the tomato paste and crushed red pepper and saute until fragrant, 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Add chicken stock, diced tomatoes, and the cooked sausage. Stir gently and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the ditalini pasta and cook for an additional 8 minutes. Stir in the spinach and let wilt for 1-2 minutes. Adjust seasoning as needed, then ladle hot soup into bowls and top with grated parmesan. Enjoy hot.
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Kim Moncure says
Amazing! Made it with gluten free pasta so it was doctor approved and husband approved! Love it!
This recipe is fantastic. I’ve made it dozens of times. But it comes from a meal delivery company called “Plated”. (Which is no longer in business for home delivery) . It would have been nice for you to credit them as the people behind this recipe.
diane lantz-rickard says
so this is confusing Beth, have you had fennel and leek before because you said they were your favorite things but then…?
Beth Pierce says
Oh my heavens! Hubby and I just loved this! Thanks so much for the fabulous recipe!
I have never tried fennel! Sounds so good, thank you for describing it, can’t wait to try this recipe 🙂
Not Noelle says
yo you didn’t even try it Noelle wtf u puttin 5 stars for huh cmon
This has all my favorite things in it and I love all the details about the fennel and leek – things some of us might not be familiar with! Thanks for a great recipe.
Going to give this a try as soups are a big hit around the house.
Dara Michalski says
The ultimate comfort food! Fennel is such an underused veggie and is a brilliant addition to this soup.
The flavors in this were amazing! It was a huge hit with the family – we’ll definitely be making it again!
April 2024 says
nice job following through April, could teach Noelle a thing or two amirite