tuscan white bean soup, 2 ways

tuscan white bean soup, 2 ways | theclevercarrot.com

Italian soul food, anyone?

Years ago, there was a small café in my town called the Kozy Kettle. They served about 20 different soups with a complimentary popover on the side. Great concept. Who doesn’t love a good bowl of soup in the fall? I was particularly fond of their white bean soups.

This version pulls inspiration from Tuscany with cannellini beans, sage, and good quality olive oil.

I’ve done it two ways:

tuscan white bean soup, 2 ways | theclevercarrot.com

Option #1: creamy version

When your beans are tender, ladle half of the soup into a blender and purée until smooth. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese and garlic croutons, if you’d like. It is really important to purée hot liquids in batches with the lid vented. This will allow the steam to escape properly.

And if you don’t…

You might get burned. When I was in culinary school, my chef-mate was blending cauliflower soup right next to me. It was very tight quarters. There I was, minding my own business when his blender exploded spewing hot soup all over the place… including me! It splashed onto my face and dripped down my chef’s jacket. I had flaming florets stuck to my chest! It was in my eyes too. My chef instructor grabbed my ponytail and dunked my face under the cold tap. Whoa.

I survived. No major burns. But it hurt really bad. This is what happens when you’re not careful.

If I’ve completely traumatized you, you could always use a hand held immersion bender to avoid any blunders.

tuscan white bean soup, 2 ways | theclevercarrot.comtuscan white bean soup, 2 ways | theclevercarrot.com

Option #2: chunky version

If you prefer a more rustic texture, this might be your thing. Here, the beans are left whole and simmered with bacon and sage. It’s a brothy soup. Normally, I use canned beans in my recipes for accessibility and convenience. But when a dish revolves around one main ingredient go for the real deal; dried beans. This will elevate the flavor of your soup. Just remember to soak the beans overnight (do it before you go to bed!).

Find some bread for dunking too…

tuscan white bean soup, 2 ways | theclevercarrot.com

The Kozy Kettle knew a thing or two about variety. With minimal effort you can easily make this soup, 2 ways. And the best part- it’s all in one pot! Paired with a nice green salad you’ve got yourself a meal. Brownie points for a popover on the side.

Tips:

  • When making the creamy version, the beans should be very soft before blending. If they are the slightest bit al dente, your soup will not be smooth.
  • Because of it’s simplicity, this soup (either version) is only as good as its ingredients. Sourcing good quality bacon, chicken stock, and olive oil is worth it. You’ll appreciate the authentic, homemade flavor.
tuscan white bean soup, 2 ways
 
Author:
Serves: 3 quarts
Ingredients
Soup
  • 1 lb. of cannellini or great northern beans, dried
  • 1-2 slices of bacon (I used Applewood-smoked)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 2 quarts of low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt + pepper
Garnish
  • garlic croutons
  • shaved parmesan cheese
  • crusty sourdough bread
* Soak the beans overnight before you begin.
Instructions
  1. To soak, place the beans into a large bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight.
  2. In a heavy bottom pot, warm the olive oil over moderate heat. Roughly chop the bacon and add to the pot. Saute until lightly golden.
  3. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and sage leaves. Saute until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Tilt the pot, and remove most of the residual oil with a spoon.
  5. Drain the beans and add to the pot.
  6. Cover with 1 quart of chicken stock and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans are tender about 1- 1½ hours. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. For the creamy version, remove half of the soup (with a portion of bacon and sage) and transfer to a blender. Vent the lid and puree in batches. Add additional chicken stock if it's too thick. Alternatively, use a hand held immersion blender. Garnish with parmesan cheese and croutons.
  8. For the chunky version, adjust with salt and pepper to taste, and more stock if needed.
  9. Serve warm with crusty sourdough bread.

 PS…

I haven’t baked bread since we moved into our new house. By now, you all know about my shady oven and I didn’t want to be disappointed with its unpredictability. But I took a chance. This loaf came out incredibly light and fluffy, far from what I expected. It just goes to show that sometimes fancy equipment is not needed. Take that, you crappy oven!

tuscan white bean soup, 2 ways | theclevercarrot.com

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Comments

    • Emilie says

      Hi Julie! Thank you so much. I really enjoyed styling and photographing this post, so your feedback is very much appreciated! Making this recipe was a lot of fun too. I find that soup can be a personal thing and I usually go back and forth between both versions myself. I hope you enjoy! :)

    • Emilie says

      Thank you Celia! That’s exactly why I loved that little cafe in our town… so many different soups to choose from!
      I had some of the chunky version leftover and I simmered collard greens (from my veggie share) in the broth. It was an interesting way to re-purpose the extras adding a bit of greenery. But overall, I think the creamy version was the winner in our house ;)

          • Carole says

            My daughter made this soup and took it to work. It was a great hit. She then brought the left overs to us on Mothers Day. My husband is not a soup lover but he asked me the next day to please get the ingredients to make it. I loved it also so it is a hit here and probably a staple.

          • Emilie says

            Hi Carole! This makes me SO happy! Really, thank you for taking the time to give feedback. So glad everyone liked the soup :)

      • Dianne says

        Hi, I have made the creamy version several times, always a huge hit. Sometimes I stir through some baby spinach leaves just before I serve it to add some more nutrition and colour. Great soup, thanks Emilie

    • Emilie says

      Oh, sage…. how I love thee. I get excited this time of year when it pops up in the stores. So fragrant! I can only imagine how tasty a side dish of creamy white beans and herbs must’ve been, with a beautiful Italian backdrop to boot. Lucky girl! This kind of food certainly is the best (at least for me!) xx

    • Emilie says

      Oh good! The chunky version is just as flavorful as its creamy counterpart, but packed with lots of texture and a warming broth. I’ve been simmering some greens in the soup right before serving. Enjoy :)

  1. says

    What divine looking soup. I would like it right now. I am pleased to see that you have used dried beans. I find that the canned products are inferior in texture, and sometimes they have quite an “off”, almost metallic taste. I think it is well worth the extra time to use dried beans. Ditto for using a good home made stock. I can not choose between the two versions – both look so good. Well done, amica. But Emilie, you have out done yourself with the photowork here. It is absolutely stunning.

    • Emilie says

      Hi Adri! Yes, dried beans are very important in this recipe. Although I do used canned from time to time, in a dish like this the real deal is a must. You can taste the difference. Have you heard of Ranco Gordo? I want to try their beans: http://www.ranchogordo.com/ And don’t even get me started on chicken stock! We used to make beef, chicken and veal at school. I miss those days! :)

    • Emilie says

      Hi Pam! I really do enjoy simple food. It’s how I like to cook and eat. How is the weather in your neck of the woods. It’s starting to get super chilly around here! xx

  2. says

    I love making bean soups and really appreciate the simplicity of your recipe, its all about good basic ingredients. The creamy version looks so yummy and adds a bit of elegance to this traditional comfort food. I will definitely be trying this, WITH my immersion blender! So glad you survived your cooking school incident.

    • Emilie says

      Good basic ingredients are key. I never really understood that until I took the time to make these changes.
      HOORAY for the immersion blender, right? I’ve had mine for almost 10 years now and I don’t know what I would do without it. It’s so easy to clean too. Maybe we should’ve used those in school ;) Thanks for stopping by, Jen and enjoy the recipe :)

  3. Cindy says

    This looks wonderful!! I have been trying to find healthier, flavorful dishes my girls will actually eat and this one fits the bill!. They love “cream based” soups, with all the fat, but I think I can trick them with the creaminess of pureed beans! “Yeah Mom!” Or rather, “Yeah Emilie!”

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Cindy! This is a perfect fake-out for cream based soup. Plus, you get the added benefit of plant based protein and fiber. You know, if you haven’t tried this already, pureed potatoes in soup gives it a wonderful creamy taste. Your kids might like that. You only need about 1 (or 2 if you’d like more). I have another secret: tofu. This one’s a really hard sell because it has such a bad reputation. But when pureed in soups it adds the most velvety texture. It doesn’t taste like anything. I use half a container of silken tofu for my soups :)

  4. says

    Emilie, the soup looks fabulous, but hooray for the bread!! How cool is it that you can produce such an amazing loaf from your dodgy oven – goes to show how cool the pot baking is (you were right of course, and I now almost never bake a loaf any other way)! Hmmm…think I need bread and soup today now.. :)

    • Emilie says

      That’s what I thought too! My oven is incredibly dodgy (it’s 100 degrees off!) but I’ve been able to skate by with my thermometer. I’ve avoided the bread situation for too long- it hurt. It feels good to be back in the game. I only wish I could bake more loaves at one time. I can fit 2- how about you via pot method? xx

    • Emilie says

      Thank you Laura! Isn’t it amazing how food can transport you back to another place and time? I’ve always wanted to visit Naples… Food and travel are my happy place ;)

  5. JoAnn says

    wonderful looking soup! I wonder– does it freeze well? I like making soup and keeping half for later. All the ingredients looked freezer-friendly, but I’m never sure…thanks so much for sharing!

    • Emilie says

      Hello JoAnn! Yes it does! Portion the soup into small containers or Ziploc bags. Leave a little room (not too much) for expansion while in the freezer. The soupd should be good for a couple of months. All ingredients are freezer friendly :)

  6. Metta says

    Greetings! Making this now & just noticed the recipe calls for 2 qts chicken stock but you only say to add 1 qt. . . which is correct?

    • Emilie says

      Hi Metta! Start with 1 quart of stock and add extra as needed (if the soup is too thick). That’s why I listed 2 quarts just in case! Hope this helps! Enjoy :)

  7. Lynne says

    I made this soup for dinner tonight and I have to tell you that it was absolutely the best soup I’ve ever, ever eaten! It was just fabulous. I made the chunky version and it was wonderful. The only change I made was to add a 3rd piece of bacon and just 1/2 of a large onion. While it cooked I noticed that (as you stated might happen) it needed additional chicken stock. My oh my…..was it ever delicious!! Thank you so much for sharing this – I will make it often from now on.

    • Emilie says

      Lynne, you just made my day! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your feedback. I appreciate it more than you know! I’m so glad you liked the recipe. That 3rd piece of bacon sounds like a great idea ;) Happy Holidays to you and your family! :)

  8. Lynne says

    Hi Emilie – Happy New Year! I have a question for you. I’m making the soup this evening and we have a left over ham bone from Christmas dinner. Do you think I could add that instead of – or maybe in addition to (!!) the bacon? I just wanted to get your thoughts on that.

    Thank you so much!

    • Emilie says

      Hello Lynne! Happy New Year!

      Absolutely, the ham bone would be a lovely addition to the soup. Was you ham particularly salty/smoky? If so, I would only use that to flavor the soup. If it was mild, go ahead and add some bacon too!

      Have a wonderful dinner. I hope you enjoy :) x

      • Lynne says

        Thank you for the quick answer; that was a nice surprise! The ham was a little salty, so I think I’ll add just one slice of bacon because really – can you ever have too much bacon? :) I look forward to trying some of your other recipes because this one is really outstanding.

        Thanks again,
        Lynne

  9. Lynne says

    Mama mia!! I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. I added the ham bone (it still had ham on it) to the soup and oh my goodness – is it ever good!! I’ve also discovered garlic infused olive oil and I used that both times I made the soup and I think that adds a good flavor. This is absolutely my favorite soup recipe and I’m so grateful, Emile, that you shared it!! Oh – one other thing. I don’t have an immersion blender so I just used a masher a few times in the soup and I got exactly the texture I wanted. You have to use the tools at hand, LOL.

    Lynne

    • Emilie says

      Oh my goodness- I ‘m SO glad you enjoyed the soup! I can just imagine the salty ham, the garlic oil (great idea) and that hint of bacon. Thank you so much for taking the time give me feedback. I love it! And ps- good thinking with the potato masher. It’s always handy to have a kitchen tool that multi-tasks.

      I have another soup recipe coming up next week. I lived on it during the days leading up to Christmas. ;)

    • Emilie says

      Hi Marci! Great question. I would use about 2-3 cans (rinsed and drained). Start with 2, and as the soup cooks you’ll know visually whether or not to add the 3rd can.

      Hope this helps!

  10. says

    The soup sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to try both versions. Is there anything I can use as a pork substitute, maybe chicken? Or should I just omit it?

    Thank you!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Christina! Thank you so much! It’s the perfect thing to eat this chilly time of year :)

      The bacon lends a salty, smoky flavor to the soup and to be honest, I would just omit it. There are no real substitutes that I can think of here. You could add chicken (which would taste lovely) but you will lose that smokiness. If this doesn’t matter, I say go for it!

      Have fun with the recipe, Christina. Let me know how it goes!

  11. Lulu says

    I once ate a white bean soup to-die-for and have searched for the recipe ever since. There are plenty of white bean and rosemary recipes out there but they don’t hit the mark, so next try is going to be your sage version and I have a feeling this could be it! Very excited and I want to say what a lovely site you produce. I love your photography and clean lines. What is a popover please? You say it’s good to serve with the soup. I might as well go all the way and do it right!

    • Emilie says

      Oh, I hope this is it!

      I know that feeling of having a craving, yet nothing seems to satisfy it. I feel that way about key lime pie ironically.

      A popover is similar to a muffin or roll, but it’s very, very light. It’s also hollow in the center. They remind me of mini Yorkshire puddings… I personally don’t eat these with my soup, they were served this way at the soup cafe I used to frequent. I love to dunk a good chunk of country bread into my soup!

  12. says

    I have the soup simmering as we ummmmm…. speak….. write….. read. :)
    How’s about that beautiful looking bread recipe? I know the tems may be approximate because of your finniky oven, but I can deal. I make bread regularly, and am looking for something lighter like in your luscious picture here!

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Sarah! Right now, I’m staring at snow falling outside… it’s the perfect day for soup!

      Here is the link to my bread recipe: Sourdough Bread. It’s an in depth tutorial, however if you’re a bread baker just skip down to the recipe. Lately, I’ve been increasing the water to 350g as per the picture in this post.

      Have fun with the recipe! I hope you enjoy the soup ;)

  13. suzanne says

    I cook dried beans in the crock pot. It’s very easy to overcook white beans. I’m left with a mess of very mushy beans which will be a perfect smooth soup tonight. Thanks for the beautiful recipes.

  14. Moriah says

    I just made the creamy version and it was to die for! I used applewood smoked bacon from our own organically raised pig. I will definitely be making this again.

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Moriah!

      That is wonderful! So glad you liked it. And what a treat, using your very own organically raised pig. I’m so jealous ;) Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Michele, Great question. It really doesn’t matter as long as the soup is not rapidly boiling (you don’t want all of the liquid to evaporate). I tend to leave the lid on tilted. It’s the best compromise. Hope this helps and enjoy the soup! :)

  15. Meredith says

    The bean soup sounds delicious. I don’t care for creamy soups so I’m grateful for the chunky version.
    You list “1 celery” Do you mean I stalk, 1 cup 1 bunch? thank you.

    • Emilie says

      Hi April, I have not made a vegetarian version of this soup with liquid smoke. But you could certainly give it a try! I would use a very small amount, adding more to taste. The original version is only lightly smoky in flavor :)

  16. Evelyn says

    Hello there, I was just minding my own business when i just so happen upon your blog and i’m not a soup person per say but your two version of TUSCAN WHITE BEAN SOUP is nothing but soup porn!
    I can wait to try this out on a cold winters night. Thank you

    • Emilie says

      Hello Evelyn! You are too funny, thank you so much! I hope it converts you to liking soup- there’s nothing better during the winter season! You are quite welcome :)

  17. Lynn says

    I was cleaning my glass oven top and Pinterest alerted me to new pins. As I am later sipping my coffee and glancing at selected pins, the world suddenly turns on its axis, fireworks explode and I am staring at a mouth-watering picture of bean soup, rustic bread that is so screaming my name fresh sage and a beautiful and yet casual napkin is placed next to soup bowl. Yes! I just want to crawl into the picture, pull up a chair and inhale the aroma even before tasting what I know will send me into cravings for the rustic version of this soup and that bread! One tiny question: what brand of quality olive oil would you suggest? Thank you.

  18. Kavi says

    I once tasted the most incredible smooth white bean soup and always wanted to recreate the goodness – Your recipe is going to hit the spot – I can tell :)

    I always have trouble with the beans not being soft enough to puree though – even after soaking overnight and steaming in a pressure cooker – any tips to get them really mushy?

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