Sausage Meatball Kale Soup

Iowa winters can be grueling. The weather isn’t always full of snow and ice, but by the time February rolls around, you assume it’s almost spring. Then nature reminds you it definitely is not. Like so many Midwesterners, until the days are noticeably longer, I like to hibernate.

The perfect hibernation food – or really, food in general – is soup. For some, soup is the lesser food, something you dump together when you’re in a hurry. To me, soup is layers of flavor that can be slowly cooked or thrown together after work, yet still provide a nourishing, wholesome, and hearty meal.

What makes a soup good enough for a meal?

  • Layered flavors: As opposed to throwing everything in a slow cooker, the ingredients should be added one at a time, “creating layers.”
  • Aromatics: Herbs and spices help to elevate and round out the layered flavors.
  • Hearty additions: Beans, potatoes, and meat help make a soup a meal.
  • Sturdy greens: Kale added towards the end wilts and truly finishes a soup.
Top down view of Dutch oven filled with light brown colored soup filled with carrots and potatoes and sausage balls

Some soups are more of a side or yearn for a dish to complement them. Think tomato soup paired with grilled cheese. Tomato soup by itself isn’t often very filling. That’s not the case with this soup!

The best part of this soup may be the homemade chicken meatballs. This extra step seems like something that you won’t want to do on a weekend. But instead, the sausage goes together quickly with a perfect spice blend. Scooped onto a baking sheet and roasted in the oven, in just a matter of minutes, you’ll have homemade meatballs with more flavor than you’ll expect.

Top down view of brown colored chicken sausage meatballs sitting on piece of white parchment on a baking sheet

To start the soup, onion, celery and garlic are sauteéd until translucent. Even though we read this step in a plethora of recipes, it’s truly important in this soup. This softens the vegetables and takes the hard, fresh flavor away to bring out the sweeter flavors underneath.

During the winter, I don’t have the luxury of pulling fresh herbs from the garden. So for ease, I use dried herbs. Dried are economical and packed with flavor.

Carrot, potato, and white beans are added with the stock to simmer. This is the best part: it only needs to be simmered until the potatoes and carrots are tender, but can be simmered longer if you want a slow, winter soup kind of day.

At the end, some pureed beans are added for their ability to thicken. This dish can really be ready in about one hour if needed. The soup hits all my needs: hearty, full of flavor, filling, and nourishing.

White bowl sitting on marble countertop filled with broth soup filled with meatballs and carrots and pieces of kale

Watch how to make this sausage meatball kale soup:

Top down view of white bowl holding light brown soup filled with kale and carrots and meatballs
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4.42 from 12 votes

Sausage Meatball Kale Soup

There's nothing better than a hearty soup for a cold winter day! This sausage meatball kale soup is a perfect marriage of creaminess and flavor!
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: carrots, chicken, kale, meatball, sausage, soup
Difficulty: Intermediate
Method: Cooking
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Kaleb

Ingredients

For the chicken meatballs

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp herbs de Provence
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp pureed white beans (reserved from below)

For the soup

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups diced onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 ½ cups roughly chopped carrot
  • 1 6-8 oz potato
  • 2 cans white beans
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bunch kale (approx. 10 oz), ribs removed and chopped

Instructions

For the meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Using an immersion blender or food processor, pureé one can of white beans. Reserve 2 tbsp for the meatballs and set the rest aside for the soup.
  • In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, fennel seed, allspice, smoked paprika, herbs de Provence, salt, black pepper, garlic, and bean puree. Stir to combine spice and meat evenly.
  • Using a #100 (2 tsp) cookie scoop, make meatballs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. This should make approximately 35 meatballs. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and an internal temperature of 165°F is reached. While baking, prepare the soup.

For the soup

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a 6-quart stockpot or Dutch oven. Add onion, celery, and salt. Slowly sauté until the onion and celery are translucent and soft, 4-6 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper, oregano, and basil. Stir and heat until garlic is fragrant, 1 minute.
  • Add carrot, potato, one can of whole white beans with the liquid, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the carrot and potato are cooked, 25-35 minutes.
  • Once the potatoes and carrots are cooked, add the reserved pureéd beans to the soup. Continue to cook to remove the raw flavor, 15 minutes. Add the kale and baked meatballs to the soup. Allow the kale to wilt and the meatballs to warm through, 6 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 servingCalories: 263 kcal (13%)Carbohydrates: 29.5 g (10%)Protein: 17.2 g (34%)Fat: 8.9 g (14%)Saturated Fat: 1.9 g (12%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.3 gMonounsaturated Fat: 4.4 gTrans Fat: 0 gCholesterol: 42.1 mg (14%)Sodium: 607.9 mg (26%)Potassium: 655.2 mg (19%)Fiber: 6.5 g (27%)Sugar: 5.3 g (6%)Vitamin A: 179.2 IU (4%)Vitamin C: 9.2 mg (11%)Calcium: 69.1 mg (7%)Iron: 2.6 mg (14%)

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  • Just got home and saw your recipe of this incredible fabulosity kale soup!Kaleb! I wish to make it right now but I have to wait till monday!!!!! Love everything about it, I am just like you I like to seethe veg and b it them just like you do!
    Thanks for this delish soup recipe, Monday is Kaleb’s Kale and sausage soup night!
    ❤️ Enjoy your weekend!

  • I want to try this soup, it sounds crazy delicious. how do you think this would be with Swiss Chard? I ask because this week I have a choice of Kale or Swiss Chard in our CSA box? Thank You

    • I think swiss chard is a perfect green to use! You could even chop the ribs seperately and add them with the soup for a longer cooking time then add the green tops at the end just as you could kale!

  • 5 stars
    Made this soup yesterday during the nor’easter we had here in Massachusetts. I saw the video on IG and had to try it. It was so delicious! Perfect for a snowy day. The meatballs were seasoned so well, everyone in the family loved them. My husband isn’t into kale and beans but he wants me to make the meatballs and incorporate them into another type of meal, perhaps a pasta or with peppers and onions? Thanks Kaleb!

  • 5 stars
    Delicious! Even better the following day! I have never made sausage from ground Turkey (it’s what we had).
    It was super easy and flavorful!

  • 5 stars
    Can’t wait to make this for the weekend. If I decide to simmer all day should I still wait to add the kale and meatballs to the last 20 minutes?

  • 5 stars
    Wow, Kaleb. Five stars from cccoold, snowy Michigan. This is hearty without being heavy, the flavors are delicious and I had no idea baked meatballs would be so easy! Thank you!

  • I am allergic to kale, so I’m wondering if spinach or Savoy cabbage (or a combination of both) could be substituted. Please advise.

  • 5 stars
    I loved this soup. I also put in a parmesan rind while it was simmering. I think it adds a little something, something. This was a huge soup so I had plenty to share with neighbors! They think I’m a rock star cook now. LOL I also LOVE that you include the nutritional information with your recipe. Thanks! I’ll be making this again and again!

  • I have tried many of your recipes since the pandemic trying to stretch our meals, We are trying to make February a no-spend month by using what we have on hand. We live in Hawaii and try to only eat island grown veggies. Rather the canned beans and or potatoes we used Okinawan sweet potatoes the purple kind. We chopped them really small. The potatoes cooked down and made a sweet, savory, soap. Hawaiian style.
    Mahalo,
    Robert and Helen Kobzi

  • I just made this incredible soup. I added a large leek and I used Tuscan kale. I love celery so I doubled it. I didn’t have ground turkey so I used Italian pork sausage. The flavor profile is spot on. My new favorite soup. Thank you for sharing.

  • I made this soup tonight for dinner. I cannot tell you enough how delicious it was. The chicken balls taste like sausage, but with fewer calories and fat. Thank you Kaleb for all of your superb recipes. You have inspired me! Thank you!

  • We LOVE this soup. Hearty, complex delicious flavors. Perfect for winter evenings or anytime…I’m making a pot of it now. I add extra beans usually. This is a wonderful recipe. Thank you!!!!

    • I live all your recipes ..right down to your canning.. I’ve sent to my Daughter in Cambridge ( england) I’m in Costa Blanca Spain.. I loved the caulifour rice with cod …I’m going to make this …and live your candy that you make ..I’ve made same.. I love your house and garden it’s beautiful.. cheers Pamela