This Italian Sausage and Orzo Soup recipe is easy to make, full of zesty seasonings, and so cozy and delicious.
Here in Spain, there’s a saying that “en abril, aguas mil” (in April, a thousand showers) — which has certainly proved true this year. It has been raining almost every single day this past month! And after weeks of nonstop drizzle, I’ve gotta say that we are definitely ready for sunny days to return so that we can open our windows and enjoy the warm spring weather again. But in the meantime, we’ve been trying to make the best of things by soaking up the last of the season’s cozy indoor hygge vibes, snuggling under fuzzy blankets, drinking lots of hot tea, baking lots of bread and cookies. And, as I always love to do when it rains, making lots and lots of soup. ♡
This Italian sausage and orzo soup was one of my favorite recipes that came about this month as I was trying to clean out a few leftovers in the fridge. It had all intentions of making minestrone, but then we were out of beans and I wanted to use up some Italian sausage in the fridge, and it turned into this Italian sausage and orzo soup sort of situation. But my word, was it delicious. I actually ended up loving this soup so much that I made a second batch last week so that we could take some to our neighbors and snap a few photographs it to share with all of you today.
The recipe is about as simple as it looks — zesty crumbled Italian sausage, hearty orzo pasta (or whatever shape of pasta you have on hand), your choice of veggies and greens, all simmered in a cozy tomato-herb broth. And together, it is all just so cozy and comforting and satisfying. I like to make mine more on the spicy side with an extra sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes and spicy Italian sausage, but I’ve included options below so that you can make yours as fiery and spicy or as gentle and mild as you prefer. Feel free to also make yours gluten-free (just use GF pasta) or vegan (use vegan sausage) if you prefer. And if you happen to have extra veggies, greens or beans hanging out in your kitchen, feel free to toss them in too. This base recipe is incredibly flexible and welcomes swaps and add-ins, so it’s a great way to use up those leftovers.
Bottom line, it’s one of those simple yet satisfying cozy soup recipes that always hits the spot. So round up some sausage and whatever pasta is hanging out in your pantry, and let’s make some soup!
Italian Sausage, Orzo and Spinach Soup Ingredients:
To make this Italian soup recipe, you will need the following ingredients (amounts listed in the full recipe below):
Italian sausage: Mild, spicy, or whatever kind of ground Italian sausage that you love best.
Veggies: The classic mirepoix combo of carrots, onion and celery.
Garlic: I love adding lots of garlic to this soup, but you are welcome to halve the amount if you prefer less.
Diced tomatoes: I recommend using a can of fire-roasted tomatoes if you have one, but any type of diced tomatoes will work.
Chicken stock: Or you could also use chicken stock or vegetable stock.
Dried seasonings: A mix of Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt and black pepper.
Orzo: Or any type of small pasta shape that you love best.
Fresh baby spinach: Or fresh kale, or you could use frozen greens (thawed and drained) instead.
Toppings: I highly recommend a generous sprinkle of Parmesan, plus some chopped fresh basil or parsley if you happen to have some on hand.
How To Make This Soup:
To make this Italian soup recipe, simply…
Brown the sausage: First, we will brown the sausage in a large stockpot and then transfer it to a clean plate, reserving about a tablespoon or so of leftover grease in the pot to sauté the veggies.
Sauté the veggies. Cook the onion, carrot and celery until softened, then we will briefly sauté the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.
Simmer the broth. Add the diced tomatoes, stock and Italian seasoning, and cook until the soup reaches a simmer.
Cook the pasta. Then we will add in the orzo and cook until al dente.
Add the spinach and season. Finally, we’ll stir the spinach into the soup until it is wilted, then taste and season the soup as needed.
Serve. Then it’s ready to go! I recommend serving this one with lots of freshly-grated Parmesan on top, plus maybe a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs (such as basil or parsley) if you happen to have them on hand.
This Italian Sausage, Orzo and Spinach Soup recipe is incredibly flexible with regards to variations. So feel free to experiment with whatever ingredient swaps or additions sound good. For example, feel free to…
Make it spicy: I highly recommend using good-quality spicy Italian sausage, if you would like your soup to have some heat. Or you can also double the amount of crushed red pepper flakes used here. (Or if you prefer a milder soup, you can halve or omit the amount of crushed red pepper flakes entirely.)
Add extra veggies: Feel free to toss in any other mild soup-friendly veggies that you have on hand, such as bell peppers, zucchini, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus or peas.
Add beans: Feel free to add in a can of your favorite beans (rinsed and drained) for some extra protein.
Use a different protein: Shredded or diced chicken, ground beef, chicken sausage, or vegan sausage.
Use a different pasta shape: Really any kind of pasta will work here, but I would recommend some sort of smaller bite-sized pasta shape if you do not have orzo.
Use different greens: Kale or collard greens would also be delicious in place of the baby spinach.
Use quinoa: If you would like to lighten up the soup a bit and make it gluten-free, you can also substitute quinoa (rinsed and drained) for the orzo.
More Favorite Soup Recipes:
Looking for more healthy soup recipes? Here are a few of my faves:
Brown the sausage: Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the ground sausage and sauté until browned and cooked through, stirring and crumbling with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked meat to a clean plate and set it aside, reserving 1 tablespoon of grease in the pot. (If there is more grease in the pot, discard it. If there is no grease remaining, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the stockpot.)
Sauté the veggies. Add the onion, carrots and celery and stir to combine. Sauté for 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Simmer the broth. Add the diced tomatoes, stock, Italian seasoning and cooked sausage and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the broth reaches a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer.
Cook the pasta. Stir in the orzo until combined. Cover the pot with a lid and continue simmering the soup, stirring occasionally so that the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot, until the orzo is al dente.
Add the spinach and season. Stir the spinach into the soup. Taste and season with salt and black pepper, as needed. (Feel free to also add in extra Italian seasoning, if you would like.)
Serve. Serve immediately, garnished with your favorite toppings.
A note about the orzo: The longer that this soup continues to sit, the more broth the orzo will absorb. If you would like to add extra broth later, I recommend adding in 1 cup of extra chicken stock along with an extra 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning (plus salt and black pepper, to taste).