Weeknights were made for Sausage and Bean Stew, a rustic French recipe that simmers up in well under an hour, all in one cozy little pot. And talk about flavor! Every bowl is bright tomatoes, creamy white beans, and then topped with toasted bread croutons.
A little salad, like chopped Romaine tossed in garlicky Green Goddess Dressing, and you’re more than good to go for dinner. That’s because sausage fixes everything. From Sausage Tortellini Soup to Reunion Casserole, this glorious spicy-sweet meat makes whatever it touches lots more fun. Tons more sausage-forward recipes (including magical 2-Ingredient Italian Sausage Rolls) just waiting to make your week more delicious.
When you’re craving something hearty and homemade, stop right here—you found it!
All you need is a package of Italian sausage, a bit of white wine, and a handful of stuff in the pantry to make this simple dinner. Similar to ribollita, an Italian stew made with beans, greens, and day-old bread, or cassoulet, a French peasant-style bean casserole, it hits all the right buttons.
No slaving over the stove, either—it’s ready in a little over half an hour, and most of that time is simmering.
The white wine adds amazing acidity to the white beans and rich pork sausage, so every spoonful tastes fresh, anything but ordinary.
This is even better the next day, so make a double batch. Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
Here’s what’s in Sausage and Bean Stew:
- Italian Sausage. Find your favorite kind of sausage, sweet, mild, or spicy. It gets crumbled up and browned in the first step.
- Olive oil.
- Red onion.
- Thyme. Fresh thyme gives a lot more flavor to this simple soup than dried.
- Red pepper flakes. Just a pinch.
- Canned diced tomatoes. Along with their juice.
- Canned white beans. Drained and rinsed. Any variety of white or light-skinned bean will do: navy, cannellini, great northern…even baby lima beans.
- White wine. Water or chicken broth and a splash of balsamic vinegar can be substituted in place of wine. (The vinegar adds extra acidity that the broth doesn’t have.)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Bread. Craggy, toasted bread or homemade croutons soak up the broth and soften as you eat.
- Chicken broth. You can use chicken broth instead of the white wine, in this recipe.
- Kale or dark leafy greens. Go ahead and add ‘em by the handful! They cook into the soup and make things healthy.
- Parmesan cheese. A few ribbons of nutty Italian cheese over the top of everyone's bowl—why not? This would also be a great way to use up that tough, leftover Parmesan rind, too. Throw a chunk in and let it simmer in the broth. (It adds flavor for days.)
How to make Sausage and Bean Stew:
This recipe relies on rustic pieces of toasted bread as a garnish on top of every bowl. You can toast the bread on a sheet pan under the broiler, in a toaster oven, or you can use homemade croutons. The bread adds some hearty texture to the broth of the soup. You can get this ready beforehand or while the soup is cooking.
- Bust out that Dutch oven, or another pot with a heavy bottom. Over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers, then add the sausage and the red onion. Cook until the sausage is cooked through and the onions are soft—stirring occasionally—5 to 7 minutes.
- Next, stir in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Then add the canned tomatoes along with their juice, one can’s worth of the drained beans, and the white wine. Bring the stew to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Afterwards, add the second can’s worth of drained beans to the pot. At this point, you can adjust the consistency of the stew. If it looks too thick, add 1/4 cup of wine or water to the pot. Then give it a stir and check again. Still too thick? Add another 1/4 cup of liquid.
- Finally, season the stew to taste with salt and pepper. When you’re ready to serve, throw some chunks of bread over the top of each bowl, so they soak up the broth as everyone eats.
- If you have leftover stew, hold the bread back until the next time you eat, so it doesn't get soggy.
Making Sausage and Bean Stew with Italian sausage links:
The recipe calls for ground sausage meat, but don't fret. If you have a package of sausage links, you can either:
- Slice each sausage down the middle to remove the casing from the ground meat and proceed with the recipe, or
- Brown the links whole with the onions and remove them when they're cooked through, slice them into bite-sized pieces, and return them to the pot.
Let's discuss bread on top of soup:
Back when cooks made bread every day to feed their families, the leftover, day-old bread was incorporated into dinners, desserts, and everything in between. Brothy Bean and Sausage Stew is even better with toasted bread as a garnish. It soaks up the broth beautifully and adds some body to the soup. That's why we love it on French Onion Soup, too. Well, that and also because it has cheese...
You can definitely get creative with the bread, to make things even more flavorful. Here are some jumping off points:
- Before broiling, lightly brush both sides of the bread with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. That will crisp up the bread even more.
- Love garlic? After the bread is toasted, rub a whole clove of raw garlic lightly over the jagged slices. The garlic will rub off on the bread and flavor the soup.
- What about cheese? Add some freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the bread before broiling. When it melts, use a knife to cut the bread up into triangles or wedges.
- Make your own croutons and use them in place of toasted bread.
- Go gluten-free and skip the bread, but garnish the soup with ribbons of Parmesan cheese or baked Parmesan cheese crisps.
Making the stew with dried beans:
If you want to cook your own beans beforehand, bravo! That’s super smart and very frugal. Here are some tips for figuring out how many beans you'll need to cook.
As it is written in the recipe card, Sausage and Bean Stew calls for two 15-ounce cans of beans.
However, one 15-ounce can of beans actually has only 9 ounces of beans in it. (The rest is liquid, which you don’t want.) That measures out to about 1 1/2 cups of beans per can.
Since the recipe calls for two cans of beans, you’d need about 3 cups of cooked beans. (I say “about” because beans differ in size, so these are estimates.)
Good news! 1 cup of dried beans makes 3 cups of cooked beans. So you’d need about 8 ounces (half a pound) of dried beans to make the stew.
If you’re doubling up on the recipe, you’d need to cook one pound of dried beans to get enough.
Cooking dried beans:
From heirloom beans to Borlotti beans, you have infinitely more choices when you cook them yourself. Here's an easy way to cook beans on the stove.
Rinse. Pour the dried beans into a sieve or colander and rinse them under cold water, picking through them for pebbles, debris, or other foreign objects.
Soak. Hydrating the beans in water for a few hours before cooking is a good idea, but completely optional. If you want to presoak, soak beans for 4 hours or up to overnight.
Cook. Drain the soaked beans and put them in a heavy-bottomed pot. Then cover the beans with cold water by 3 to 4 inches. On the stovetop, bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat. If you like, you can add aromatics: bay leaf, thyme, garlic, or an onion. However, don’t add salt, yet—not until the beans are tender.
Then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender. Depending on the type, freshness, and size of bean, this could be 30 to 90 minutes or longer. Make sure the beans are always under water, and add more water if needed.
Season. Once the beans are at the desired stage of tenderness, season them with salt and a drizzle of olive oil, if you like. Let them cool for 30 minutes in their broth before draining off.
Cooked beans freeze beautifully and will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Sausage and Bean Stew in the slow cooker:
This recipe is lightning fast on the stove, but if you love coming home to dinner mostly made, who could blame you? Try this recipe in the slow cooker, with a few minor adjustments.
For best results, use dried beans instead of canned, so they cook up perfectly without getting too mushy. According to the calculations above, you will need 8 ounces of dried beans for one batch of this stew. You’ll also have to add some extra water to the recipe for the beans to cook in.
- First, spread the onions over the bottom of a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker and top with the olive oil, garlic, white beans, red pepper flakes, thyme, and sausage.
- Next, mix the diced tomatoes with 3 cups water and pour over the sausage.
- Then cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours or on LOW for 7 to 8 hours; the beans will be tender and begin to fall apart.
- Uncover the slow cooker, and add the white wine, salt and pepper. Adjust the consistency with extra wine, water, or broth as needed.
Sausage and Bean Stew Recipe
- 4 thick slices bread torn into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 16 ounces ground Italian sausage sweet or mild
- 1 red onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional, or more to taste
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
- 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans rinsed and drained (see notes)
- 1 cup white wine or water, plus more as needed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat broiler on high. Arrange the torn pieces of bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until browned, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan as necessary for even browning. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add sausage and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage and cooked through and onions are softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Stir in garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, 1 can of beans, and wine. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer uncovered until stew thickens and darkens, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Add remaining can of beans to pot. If stew looks too thick, add more wine or water, 1/4 cup at a time until stew reaches desired thickness. Stir until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish individual portions with chunks of bread and a drizzle of olive oil.