Kale and Italian sausage soup is like a cozy sweater you never want to take off. The rich, delicious flavor never gets old, and you can customize it however you like.
It’s part of the first ever 5×5 meal plan here at No Waste Nutrition. Five key, seasonal ingredients used to created five or more meals and snacks to help reduce food waste, save money, and eat better.
Since I’ve started focusing on cheap, healthy meal prep in our household, we’ve shaved hundreds off our monthly grocery budget by not dining out.
Bonus- these meal ideas require very little expertise in the kitchen. Eating well should not be super complicated, nor mean forcing down bland ingredients.
This 5×5 meal plan features kale, Italian sausage, tortillas, apples, and garbanzo beans. It’s the perfect mix for several simple and satisfying cool weather meals.
Kale and Italian Sausage Soup Ingredients
This sup recipe features 3 of the 5 ingredients from the 5×5 meal plan (kale, garbanzo beans, and spicy Italian sausage) plus:
- yellow onion
- minced garlic
- full fat coconut cream
- chicken stock
- red pepper flakes
Why does kale and Italian sausage pair so well together? Maybe it’s the Zuppa Toscana comfort food recipe that Olive Garden made famous. I’ve actually never tried their version, but heard it’s delish!
It could be that kale and sausage combined together in a soup, or atop a pizza make the cooler temps a bit easier to tolerate.
Traditional Zuppa Toscana features kale, zucchini, cannellini beans, potatoes and a myriad of other vegetables cooked in broth.
Easy Kale and Italian Soup Substitutes
This recipe is easily customized according to flavor preferences and dietary needs.
I substituted potatoes with higher protein (but just as yummy) garbanzo beans. White kidney beans, cannellini beans or Great Northern beans would also work well.
Garbanzo beans are a great ingredient for upping the protein and fiber content of recipes. Sub garbanzo beans in place of:
- pasta noodles
- macaroni noodles
Most kale and Italian sausage soup recipes call for the addition of heavy cream. It provides a creamy, rich texture, but can easily be subbed out for similar dairy free ingredients. Substitute half and half with:
- equal parts coconut cream and dairy free milk of choice
- equal parts creamed tofu and dairy free milk of choice
- coconut cream (alters the flavor more)
I only had coconut cream on hand when I made and photographed this recipe. It still tasted really good!
Non Pork Alternatives
Spicy Italian sausage gives the soup its depth and flavor. Luckily the market is flooded with meat alternatives. I haven’t personally made this recipe with a ‘spicy Italian sausage alternative’, but they do exist.
Any sturdy leafy green would do well in this soup without altering the flavor too much. The best options are:
- collard greens
- Swiss chard
Prep Ahead Instructions
Prep the kale and Italian sausage ahead of time, as well as chop onions and any other veggies you intend to use. This will easily save 10 to 15 minutes.
- De-stem the kale and chop into smaller pieces. No massaging needed since it will be cooked in the broth.
- Precook the sausage on medium heat in a skillet until browned. I cook a pound or two at a time to last a few days. Be sure and use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to break up any larger chunks.
- Onions can be chopped ahead of time, but it really only takes a minute at the most if not done before.
Make this Recipe Even Lower Waste
These recipes are designed to help you waste less food each week by incorporating the same ingredients into multiple recipes. If you’re aiming to reduce plastic waste in your home, take it a few steps further.
Don’t worry if you’re not ready to make the leap away from plastic yet. It’s definitely not as convenient and often takes extra time and planning to avoid. Start slowly and realize every little change makes a difference!
- Opt for raw kale in a bunch rather than the pre-chopped version in plastic. Don’t forget a reusable produce bag.
- Buy dried garbanzo beans in bulk and cook them in a crock pot or in a large pot. It’s cheaper this way too! One cup of dried garbanzo beans yields 3-4 cups cooked. That’s twice as much as what’s in one precooked can.
- Make your own chicken stock from chicken bones! Here’s my go-to recipe!
- Buy the sausage in bulk, rather than pre-packaged. Ask the grocery store butcher attendant if you can take it to go in your own container. It may feel awkward to make the ask, but they won’t mind.
30 Minute Kale and Italian Sausage Soup
A hearty kale and Italian sausage soup that’s easy to customize and comes together in 30 minutes. What’s not to love!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 (1.5 cup servings) 1x
- Category: Budget meals under $5
1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (or 2 cloves, minced)
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans (1.5 cups)
3 cups chicken broth or stock
1 cup water
1.5 cups half and half (or substitute of choice)
1/2 pound kale, chopped
dash of red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper
1. If not already done, brown the sausage in a soup pot over medium heat, using a wooden spoon to break up any larger chunks.
2. Chop onions if needed and add to the sausage, along with the minced garlic. Sauté until soft. The onions will begin to look translucent.
3. Pour in chicken stock, water, and half and half (or substitute of choice). Add paprika.
4. Cover pot and bring to simmer, then add chopped kale.
5. Recover and allow soup to simmer for 15 more minutes to develop its full flavor.
6. Add red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
I only had coconut milk on hand, but in the past I’ve used many different half and half subs. The options are endless. Because the soup already has so much flavor, the half and half is mainly for a creamier consistency. These all work great:
- whole milk plus a tablespoon of melted butter
- equal parts plain Greek yogurt plus preferred milk
- plain Greek yogurt and tofu plus a splash of water (process in a blender for a smooth consistency)
- coconut milk plus equal parts preferred milk
- Serving Size: 4