Italian Sausage Soup

November 18, 2020

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Italian Sausage Soup – it’s a perfectly seasoned, richly flavored soup that’s made with Italian seasoned pork sausage, filling orzo pasta, lots of tender fresh vegetables and plenty of herbs and garlic to season. In other words you’ll get plenty of rich and meaty, herbaceous flavor in every spoonful!

Make it super cozy and pair it with homemade breadsticks!

Italian sausage soup shown in a large white pot.

Flavorful Sausage Soup

Who knows how many soup recipes are already here on Cooking Classy but that list will never end.

Soups just warm the soul. Especially as it gets colder and colder out and as the days seem to grow shorter with a lack of the glowing suns rays, even by dinnertime (anyone else already wanting to be in bed by 7 these days?).

This soup is a combination of a few of my favorites, while the leading ingredient is Italian sausage. It brings so much flavor to this simple soup and doesn’t require hours of simmering to build up flavor.

It’s an easy soup that’s perfect for a busy day. And there are a lot of ways to adapt the recipe and use up what you’ve got on hand. I’ll share all plenty of ideas below.

Or of course make it exactly as is and you’ll have a perfectly enjoyable and simply satisfying sausage soup!

Ladle full of sausage soup.

Italian Sausage Soup Recipe Ingredients and Substitutes

  • Olive oil: Another neutral flavored oil like avocado oil or even vegetable oil will work.
  • Italian sausage: Plain pork sausage could be substituted then just up the Italian seasoning to 2 1/2 tsp and add 3/4 tsp fennel seeds if you have them.
  • Yellow onion: A red onion will work if that’s what you have.
  • Carrots: Preferably don’t omit the carrots. If you are up for experimenting you can try parsnips.
  • Celery: Another ingredient not to omit. It really builds up the overall background flavor of the soup.
  • Bell pepper: I use red bell pepper (it’s the ripest and sweetest) but any color will work.
  • Garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic you could use 1 1/2 tsp dried granulated, just keep in mind it never tastes as fresh (of course).
  • Chicken broth: I recommend using low-sodium so you have more control over the salt. Vegetable broth or beef broth could be substituted
  • Tomato sauce: In some countries also known as passata. Crushed tomatoes would also work here too.
  • Canned diced tomatoes: If needed fresh tomatoes could work here as well if that’s what you have. Use 3 diced Roma tomatoes.
  • Italian seasoning: You could also just use 1/2 tsp dried basil 1/2 tsp dried oregano and 1/2 tsp dried rosemary or marjarom.
  • Dry orzo pasta: See variation notes below on substitutes.
  • Fresh basil and parsley: Preferably stick with fresh herbs if possible. You don’t absolutely have to use both, you could use one or the other.
  • Salt and pepper: Season to taste.

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Image of ingredients used to make Italian sausage and orzo soup. Includes mild Italian sausage, orzo, carrots, celery, basil, parsley, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, yellow onion, bell pepper, olive oil and garlic.

How to Make Italian Sausage Soup

  1. Heat oil in pot: Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Break sausage into chunks into pot.
  2. Brown sausage, transfer: Let brown on bottom about 3 minutes, then turn and break up sausage and cook until no longer pink. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, leave rendered fat in pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Reserve fat: You should have about 1 Tbsp fat in pot, if needed add a little more olive oil or drain off excess fat if there’s too much.
  4. Saute vegetables: Add onions, carrots, celery and bell pepper and saute until starting to soften, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.
  5. Add liquids and season: Pour in broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and add Italian seasoning. Return sausage to pot and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste (you shouldn’t need much salt).
  6. Simmer: Bring to a simmer then cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 5 – 10 minutes until veggies are almost soft.
  7. Cook orzo in soup: Add orzo. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally (and scraping along bottom of pot as orzo will tend to stick). Cook until nearly al dente. About 8 minutes.
  8. Cool with ice if desired, add fresh herbs: Remove from heat. Stir in some ice (about 1/2 cup) if you want to help stop the orzo from cooking and getting mushy. Stir in fresh parsley and basil.
  9. Serve: Serve warm, topping servings with grated parmesan if desired.

Collage of six images showing steps to making Italian sausage soup. Includes browning sausage, sauteing veggies and adding broth and seasoning. Collage of four images of continued steps to make Italian sausage soup. Shows simmering with lid on, adding orzo, adding herbs and finished soup.

Can this soup be frozen?

  • Yes this soup will freeze well. If you don’t like soggy pasta then cook and freeze separately (toss with olive oil).
  • Freeze up to 3 months.

Can I use another type of meat?

Yes you could use another type of ground meat in place of sausage. You could use plain pork sausage as noted above, Italian turkey sausage or ground beef.

Overhead image of Italian sausage soup in a pot.

Variatons

  • Add other vegetables such as zucchini, kale or spinach.
  • Try it with another pasta such as ditalini, elbow, or acini de pepe.
  • Or replace pasta with cheese tortellini.
  • Substitute diced cauliflower in place of the orzo to cut some of the carbs.
  • Season with other fresh herbs in place of dried Italian seasoning. Rosemary and oregano are other great options, add to taste.
  • Make it spicy by using hot Italian sausage or adding red pepper flakes to taste.
  • If you want it a little more stew-like use 1 cup orzo.

Tips

  • Break sausage into pieces in pot giving space between so they have a chance to brown on bottom rather than steam, and only toss occasionally.
  • Careful not to over-cook pasta. I even cook shy of al dente because it will continue to cook off heat since the soup is so hot.
  • If you plan on leftovers you can cook pasta separately and store separately (toss with a little olive oil) so pasta doesn’t get mushy.
  • For extra flavor try it with homemade chicken stock.

Two servings of sausage soup shown in bowls.

More Tasty Similar Soups to Try

Italian Sausage Soup
5 from 17 votes

Italian Sausage Soup

It's a perfectly seasoned, richly flavored soup that's made with Italian seasoned pork sausage, filling orzo pasta, lots of tender fresh vegetables and plenty of herbs and garlic to season. In other words you'll get plenty of rich and meaty, herbaceous flavor in every spoonful!
Servings: 6
Prep15 minutes
Cook35 minutes
Ready in: 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (mild or hot as preferred)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 medium)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (2 medium)
  • 3/4 cup sliced celery (2 ribs)
  • 3/4 cup diced bell pepper (1 small)
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, then more as desired to thin
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Break sausage into chunks into pot.
  • Let brown on bottom about 3 minutes, then turn and break up sausage and cook until no longer pink. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, leave rendered fat in pot over medium-high heat.
  • You should have about 1 Tbsp fat in pot, if needed add a little more olive oil or drain off some excess fat if there's too much.
  • Add onions, carrots, celery and bell pepper and saute until starting to soften, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.
  • Pour in broth, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and add Italian seasoning. Return sausage to pot and season mixture with salt and pepper to taste (you shouldn't need much salt).
  • Bring to a simmer then cover, reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 5 - 10 minutes until veggies are almost soft.
  • Add orzo. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally (while scraping along bottom of pot as orzo will tend to stick). Cook until nearly al dente. About 8 minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in some ice (1/2 cup or so) if you want to help stop the orzo from cooking and getting mushy. Stir in fresh parsley and basil.
  • Serve warm, topping servings with grated parmesan if desired.

Notes

  • If you need to cut some sodium in the recipe use unsalted chicken stock.
  • Makes about 10 cups.

Variatons

  • Soup could also be made with Italian turkey sausage instead of pork sausage.
  • Add other vegetables such as zucchini, kale or spinach.
  • Try it with another pasta such as ditalini, elbow, or acini de pepe.
  • Or replace pasta with cheese tortellini.
  • Substitute diced cauliflower in place of the orzo to cut some of the carbs.
  • Season with other fresh herbs in place of dried Italian seasoning. Rosemary and oregano are other great options, add to taste.
  • Make it spicy by using hot Italian sausage or adding red pepper flakes to taste.
Nutrition Facts
Italian Sausage Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 462 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 57mg19%
Sodium 1408mg61%
Potassium 1206mg34%
Carbohydrates 37g12%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 19g38%
Vitamin A 8769IU175%
Vitamin C 69mg84%
Calcium 119mg12%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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42 Comments

  • Barbara H

    Love this recipe! So easy and flavorful! Are usually double the recipe and freeze it.

  • Nora

    This is my family’s favorite soup. I got fresh ground country sausage from a farm. I use a 14.5 oz of crushed tomatoes instead of the can of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and increased the broth by a cup or two. It’s the perfect balance. I’ve used a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and it was too much tomato taste for my liking. I also add 2 cups of zucchini. We like it spicy so increased the hot pepper. Absolutely delicious!!!

  • Tim C.

    Seems like such a basic thing but the broth needs time to develop the flavor. I simmer mine for at least 3 hours. I also brown the sausage very well on the grill and slice them into 1/2″ slices then into half moons. I like having a chunk of meat to bite into. I also sauté the onion for about 20 minutes to allow the sugar to develop. The rest is close to what I do. Time is flavor, definitely much better if you have the time.

  • Jennifer L Young

    I made this today with a couple chopped up chicken sausages because it’s the only thing I had on hand. SO GOOD! Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Kelly

      Love it. Put half in the fridge, half in the freezer and works great for winter lunches. Will make again.

  • David Serenda

    This is a great soup and love the tips. I did add 1/2 cup red wine and a splash of lemon, bay leaf, fresh basil, crushed red pepper to add more depth. I used a Cavatappi pasta and cooked it separately since we planned on serving it multiple times.

    Towards the end I added 1/2 cup grated parmigiana cheese which created a great smoothness.

  • jennifer

    This was so easy to make and so delicious.
    I have made it several times and passed it around to a few friends. Five stars from everyone!
    I did cut down on the orzo the very first time I made it and I am happy I did, only because my friend used the 3/4 cup of orzo and said it took over the soup.
    Thank you for another great recipe. You are my go to girl!