Tuscan Bean Soup With Pasta, Fennel And Sausage

Tuscan bean soup with pasta, fennel and sausage is a fabulous meal that’s perfect for busy weeknight. Enjoyed with crusty bread and perhaps a glass of wine, this quick and budget friendly recipe is reminiscent of a dish you might find in a Tuscan village kitchen.

After a hectic day, why not enjoy a comforting, hearty bean soup made with ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen. My husband declared that this was the best Tuscan bean soup that he had ever eaten. What makes it special is that fresh fennel is cooked with the Italian sausage and beans creating a wonderful depth of flavor to the soup. With some crusty bread to mop it all up with, it is a satisfying and delicious meal you should try.

As with most recipes, you can make this soup with any white beans you have in your pantry but I like to use cannellini beans as Tuscany is famous for them. They are one of the ingredients you will find in “Tuscan cucina povera“, honest peasant cooking where a few, poor ingredients are turned into delicious, nutritious and filling dishes. You can also decide whether you want to serve the soup brothy or slightly thicker and creamier by mashing some of the beans while they cook. However you wish to prepare it, top off each bowl of soup with a generous splash of extra virgin Italian olive oil and some grated cheese.

Tuscan Bean Soup With Pasta, Fennel And Sausage
Tuscan Bean Soup With Pasta, Fennel And Sausage

Pasta With White Bean, Fennel And Sausage (Zuppa di fagioli toscani con pasta, finocchio e salsiccia)

Serves 4, adjust recipe accordingly

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 links of Italian sausage, ( I use hot) casing removed and crumbled into small pieces
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 small fennel bulb, stalks removed, quartered, core removed and diced
  • 3 -4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • a pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 2 15 oz. cans of cannellini beans (any white bean such as navy or great northern may be substituted )
  • 2 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. (about 6 oz.) small pasta, such as ditalini or tubettini
  • a few pieces of fennel fronds for garnish (optional)
  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for additional flavor, (optional)
  • grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the sausage, breaking it into small pieces then cook until starting to brown. Add the onions and fennel and sauté until they have softened. Add the garlic, rosemary, chili flakes and bay leave and cook another minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until reduced slightly. Add 1 of the cans of cannellini beans, chicken stock, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Mash some of the beans, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions until just barely tender, then drain well and add to the beans. Add in the additional can of beans and let simmer until the pasta is al dente. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and taste for additional seasoning, if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with reserved fennel fronds, if using, and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, if you wish. Serve with a topping of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese at the table.

I refer to this as a “pantry meal” as the soup is made with ingredients, which with the exception of a fresh fennel bulb, are usually found in your pantry.

Uncooked fennel has a mild licorice flavor and crunchy texture but when cooked the flavor is delicate and soft.

I use canned beans for a quick meal but if you plan ahead, you can soak dried beans overnight, cook and the use 3 or 4 cups in this recipe.

For a creamier, thicker soup, use a wooden spoon or potato masher to partially mash the first can of beans while cooking. For a thinner soup, add all the beans at once and do not mash any of them.

If your reheat this soup, add a little chicken broth or water,

Notes From The Kitchen


Every spoonful of this richly flavored soup is comforting and delicious. It’s quick and easy, perfect for a last minute meal and made with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen. With a glass of wine and crusty bread, it’s like a meal you might be asked to share in an Italian farmhouse kitchen in the Tuscan hillside.

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100 thoughts on “Tuscan Bean Soup With Pasta, Fennel And Sausage

  1. Sounds delicious, Karen! I’ve made soups like this many, many times, of course. But the fennel is an intriguing touch. Never tried it but I want to now. The nights around here are still chilly so a warming soup for dinner is still very much welcome.

    1. Thank you Frank, I’m glad you like the idea of using fresh fennel in this recipe. My husband and I thought it added a lot to my typical Italian bean soup.

  2. I want to make this. Have you frozen it? I know some bean dishes don’t seem to have a good texture after freezing, but I am single so it would be way too much for me.

    1. Hi Naomi, Yes you can freeze the soup but the pasta in it will get very soft when defrosted and reheated. I would suggest cooking just enough pasta for one meal and placing it in the bottom of the bowl and ladling the soup over it. The remainder of the soup can be refrigerated for up to three or four days or frozen for three months. When you reheat it, you could cook some more pasta and add it to the soup. It is also very easy to cut the recipe in half.

    1. I hope you will enjoy the soup as much as we do Suzanne. I can’t tell you how flattered I am that you pinned the recipe, thank you.

  3. I would have never thought to use fennel but there are fennel seeds in sausage, so it sounds wonderful! I will have to try this.

    1. My thoughts exactly…the Italian sausage had fennel seeds and the fresh fennel was a good compliment in the overall flavor of the soup.

  4. Just a terrific soup! I do sometimes use fennel in soups, although much more often in salads. Really excellent combo of flavors. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment John. I’m like you and use fennel in salads a lot. I’m making one tonight with fennel and oranges…always a good combination.

  5. Great to see you posting Karen and hope all is well. I love soups like this and yours looks delicious – I give it a try when Bev gets home. I just bought some store-made Italian sausage last week.

    1. I appreciate your kind words Larry, I am doing much better. I believe this is a dish you and Bev would enjoy with the sausage you bought. BTW, I’m still not able to leave comments on your blog. Hope your hip surgery goes well next month.

    1. Thank you Ronit, it really is a complete meal in a bowl. I’m glad you like the addition of fennel, it really gives the soup a nice flavor.

  6. Like others who have commented, I have made soups like this from cannelloni beans I grow & dry. You’ve inspired me to also plant more fennel this spring to try your twist to an old friend.

    1. Hi Patty, It is nice to know that I’ve inspired you to add fennel to your garden this spring. Not only was it delicious in this soup, it is wonderful added fresh in salads.

  7. That sounds so deeply cozy and wonderful! It’s the funniest thing though; I never ate sausage before going vegan, but now I LOVE the meatless versions! This combo with broth, pasta, and beans sounds like everything I crave.

    1. Hi Gary, I agree with you about beans being healthy and I always have lots of different ones in my pantry. Thank you for your nice compliment about the soup.

    1. Hi Bernadette, It is nice to know that you enjoy fennel as much as we do, it does add a wonderful flavor to so many different dishes.

  8. Oh, this soup sounds fantastic, Karen! The flavors are right up our alley. It’s still pretty chilly up here, and a good batch of soup would be welcomed for lunches this week! And that crusty bread recommendation? Yes, please!!

    1. Hi Terry, I’m sorry that I had missed your comment earlier. I’m glad you like my recipe for the Tuscan bean soup, thank you for your nice compliment.

  9. This sounds scrumptious! I have never used fennel… but plan to give it a try sometime. Thank you for the inspiration. And soooooo happy to see you sharing again!
    Happy new week to you!

    1. It is nice to be back blogging Nancy, thank you so much. I really think you will like the nice flavor that fresh fennel adds to so many dishes.

  10. We’re still in wintery weather, we even had a light dusting of snow the other day, so this soup is perfect timing. I haven’t had canelli beans in some time but it’s time I changed that. I’m trying to go more vegetarian as my system is having a difficult time in digesting meat, so I may leave out the sausage.

    1. Hi Eva, Yes it does sound like this is perfect timing for this recipe. Even if you leave out the sausage, I do think you will like the addition of fresh fennel in this bean soup.

  11. I wish it wasn’t soup weather here since it’s almost April, but the bright side is that it’s the perfect time to add your soup to our menu. It sounds terrific!!!

    1. Hi Liz, yes it appears that the weather just doesn’t want to warm up in parts of our country. I hope you will find this soup warming and comforting.

    1. Hi Jeff, My husband loves anything with Italian sausage in it, I hope you will enjoy this soup as much as he did. Yes, the fresh fennel goes very well the the fennel in the sausage.

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliments Jean. I’m glad you like the bean soup recipe. I love my Villeroy & Bock dishes and had them for years. My set consists of 3 different patterns, the one you like is called French Garden Orange. Those dishes have been used in our home in south Florida, then in New Hampshire, then Maine and now back in Florida. 😊

  12. Peasant cooking is amazing! I grew up with that kind of food, off cuts and filling ingredients, the outcome is always comfort food. I can see why your husband declared that it was the best Tuscan bean soup that he had ever eaten, soup, beans, pasta, chicken stock and cheese, those are elements of a good comforting dish

    1. Hi Raymund, I totally agree with you. I do a lot of what would be referred to as peasant food and it is some of the tastiest and comforting you can make. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. I agree with you Valentina, I’ve always got a nice supply of cannellini beans in my pantry. Thank you for your compliment, I’m happy to know that you like the recipe.

    1. Thank you David, I’m glad you like the recipe. This is definitely a good pantry meal. The only thing I needed to buy was the fennel as I always have some Italian sausage in the freezer for when I want a meal I know my husband will enjoy. 😊

  13. You know I always thought I disliked fennel until my sister had me taste something she made. So it looks like fennel’s back on the menu and this soup looks like a great place to start!

    1. Hi Inger, I think you would really enjoy the nice flavor that the fennel adds to the beans. I do hope you will give the bean soup a try,

  14. I’ve never made a Tuscan bean soup with fennel. Love the soup version because I really do love fennel and this soup in general. Next time I make this soup, I must use your recipe. Thanks for sharing!!!

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