Tuscan White Bean Soup

5 servings
8 hr 30 min

This Tuscan White Bean Soup can be made in the Slow Cooker or on the Stove Top. The results are equally delicious; it’s just up to you what would make your day easier!

Often, the most simple ingredients combine to make the most flavorful soups. White beans, onion, garlic, celery, and carrots combine with stock, a parmesan rind, bay leaves, and tomato paste to create the alchemy known as Tuscan White Bean Soup. Finish this healthy soup with chopped kale or spinach and a sprinkling of Rosemary, and serve it with a salad and crusty bread for a delightful meal. You’ll be transported to the winding streets of Florence.

Tuscan White Bean Soup in a whie bowl with a spoon.

I use my chicken stock for this soup, but you could easily swap it out for vegetable broth. Use water as a last resort; the broths really do add a good deal of flavor to the soup.


prepare this Tuscan White Bean Soup in the slow cooker or stovetop

Whether you cook this Tuscan White Bean Soup in a crock pot or on the stovetop is totally up to you! The soup will be equally as delicious no matter the cooking method; it just depends on how busy your day is!

If you know that your day tomorrow will be particularly hectic, then prep the ingredients tonight and let your slow cooker do all the work while you are busy being you.

But, if you’ll have time to cook in the evening, put your beans in a large bowl with water to cover by at least 2 inches and refrigerate. Drain the beans and rinse, and you’ll be ready for the stovetop directions.

And, if it is 5 p.m. and you just realized you didn’t soak your beans, nab two 14-ounce cans of cannellini beans from your pantry to use. Just reduce the stock or broth to 6 cups.


what kind of beans should I use for this Tuscan Bean Soup?

I make this soup with Cannellini beans because I’m partial to Cannellini beans! I like the nutty creaminess of Cannellini. But not only are they harder to find ( I buy them online in 10-pound bags), but they also need to be boiled before being used in a slow cooker (see below). Other great options are Great Northern and Navy Beans.

DRied and boiled cannellini beans.

what the h*#@ is phytohaemagglutinin, and why do I care about it?


Many types of beans contain a toxin called Phytohaemagglutinin (PHA). Uncooked Red Kidney Beans, White Kidney Beans (Cannellini Beans), and Broad Beans contain it at higher levels than other beans, with Red Kidney Beans containing the most. The primary symptoms of ingesting too much PHA are vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pains.

Typically, the toxin is destroyed when boiled at 200ºF for 10 minutes, but scientists recommend 30 minutes to ensure the beans reach the proper temperature for the requisite time. So, canned beans are fine because they’ve been processed at high temperatures.

Other means of cooking reach this 200° quickly enough to destroy the PHA, but the nature of crock pots and slow cookers is that they don’t. No need to panic; know that with DRIED Kidney Beans, White Kidney Beans (Cannellini Beans), and Broad Beans, you need to boil them for at least 10 minutes and, more conservatively, 30 minutes before adding them to your slow cooker or crockpot. Knowledge is Power!

So the key takeaway here…Red Kidney Beans, White Kidney Beans (Cannellini), and Broad Beans should be boiled for at least 10 and, more conservatively, 30 minutes before adding them to your slow cooker or crockpot.


how do you thicken Tuscan Bean Soup?


Use your immersion blender to blend some of the beans for a creamier bean soup. Alternately, remove two to three cups of the soup and whir it in a blender. Then return the blended soup back to the pot and stir it to combine fully.

Tuscan White Bean Soup in a whie bowl with a spoon.

how can I freeze bean soup?

I regularly freeze my bean soups with great success. My preferred method is to freeze them in one-cup and half-cup portions using these PrepWorks Freezer Pods to have them for quick meals. Using the freezer pods means I don’t have to defrost more than I need.

But I’ve also frozen this soup in my glass freezer containers and, in a pinch, in a gallon ziplock bag.

The soup will keep well for six to eight months in the freezer and three to four days in the refrigerator.


suggested swaps or additions to this bean soup

  • Swap out the chicken stock for vegetable broth and swap 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke for the bacon or pancetta for a vegetarian soup. Then, also leave out the parmesan rind for a vegan soup.
  • Add some sauteed Italian sausage for some added flavor and protein
  • Sprinkle minced Italian parsley and grated parmesan over the top
  • After the soup has been ladled into bowls, give it a lovely drizzle of olive oil.
  • Sprinkle red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.
Tuscan White Bean soup with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese in a white bowl.

about that parmesan rind…

The parmesan rind is optional but recommended. I buy tubs of parmesan rinds from the deli department at my local grocery store. I keep the little tub in the freezer just for soups and some sauces.

The parmesan rind adds a touch of salt and cheese-y depth and will also add a bit of creaminess to your soup.

how to make this white bean soup recipe vegetarian or vegan

Swap out the chicken stock for vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup. Substitute 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke for the diced bacon or pancetta.

Then, also leave out the parmesan rind for a vegan soup.

This soup is naturally gluten-free.


Stop by the blog for more delicious soup recipes.

Recipe details
  • 5  servings
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 8 Hours Total time: 8 hr 30 min
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried Cannellini beans (can also use Navy Beans or Great Northern Beans...see Note 1)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 ounces bacon or pancetta, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Parmesan Rind, approximately 1 ounce (optional)
  • 8 cups chicken stock or broth (sub vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 bunch of kale or spinach (optional)
Instructions
In the Slow Cooker
Rinse and sort through your beans
If you are using Cannellini Beans, which are also known as White Kidney Beans, boil your beans for at least 10 to 30 minutes. See Note 1. The beans can boil while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the pancetta or bacon. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes until bacon is lightly browned.
Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook over medium-low for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally.
Transfer the cooked bacon, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the slow cooker.
Add the beans, tomato paste, parmesan rind, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and broth or stock.
Set the crockpot or slow cooker to low and cook for seven to nine hours or high for four to five hours. (See Note 2)
Stir in kale and rosemary. Add water or more broth to thin the soup.
This soup will stay in your warm setting for one to two hours.
On the Stovetop
Rinse and sort through your beans
In a large pot or Dutch Oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the pancetta or bacon. Saute for 4 to 5 minutes until bacon is lightly browned.
Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook over medium-low for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally.
Add the beans, tomato paste, parmesan rind, bay leaves, salt, pepper, broth, or stock, and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot. Test the beans to determine doneness.
Once done, remove from heat, remove bay leaf and stir in kale and rosemary.
Cover the pot and let sit for 15 minutes. Add water or more broth to thin the soup.
Tips
  • 1. Red Kidney beans contain a large amount of “phytohaemagglutinin,” also called PHA, or kidney bean lectin. While Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans) contain about 1/3 of the amount of PHA as red kidney beans, it is out of an abundance of caution that we also boil the beans for 30 minutes before cooking them in a slow cooker. Per Ohio State Chow Line. "Research indicates that the toxin is destroyed when boiled at 212 degrees F for 10 minutes, but scientists recommend 30 minutes to be certain the beans reach the proper temperature for the amount of time necessary. "
  • 2. All crockpots heat differently, and the age of your beans also influences cook times. This is a general rule. Beans are done when beans are done. There is not exact time frame; as beans age, they dry out and take longer to cook. Test your beans at the low end of the time frame to check their doneness. This soup will hold at your warm setting for one to two hours.
  • I’ve referred to the Tamar Adler book, An Everlasting Meal, before. It’s one of those books I like to re-read from time to time for inspiration. Here’s her guidance on testing the doneness of beans:
  • "Beans are done when they are velvety to their absolute middles. You should feel, as soon as you taste one, as though you want to eat another. The whole pot is only ready when five beans meet that description. If one doesn’t, let the beans keep cooking."Tamar Adler
  • "
Lynn @ Nourish and Nestle
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