This Italian inspired soup is naturally vegetarian, gluten-free and brimming with Mediterranean goodness. You’ll savor every spoonful of this hearty, easy-to-make Tuscan white bean soup. It’s comfort food, minus the guilt. And I’ve got plenty of variations you can use to dress it up and make it yours. Buon appetito!
Sometimes easy to make, rustic combinations blow elaborate, tricky recipes out of the water. It’s almost as if – even though you’re just tossing stuff into a soup pot – you can taste the care and love that went in to making it.
This Tuscan white bean soup is one of those recipes. No serious cooking techniques required. But you’ll definitely taste the love and hearty soulfulness in every bite.
Why This Tuscan White Bean Soup Recipe Works
- It’s healthy, but still delicious. The rustic Mediterranean flavors develop quickly and with little fuss.
- Naturally gluten-free and vegetarian (vegan if you omit the Parmesan cheese).
- Leftovers fare well in the fridge. As with many soups and stews, it’s even better the next day.
- And, you can add or switch out ingredients easily to fit your own particular preferences and dietary needs (more on specific variations further down the page).
Tuscan White Bean Soup Ingredients
- Olive Oil: Use extra virgin olive oil if you can get your hands on it. Sometimes called cold pressed.
- Garlic: You’ll only need about 3 minced garlic cloves for this Italian soup.
- Red Onion or Leek: I prefer chopped red onions or leeks in this bean soup because they are a tiny bit sweeter than white onion. That said, you can totally use white onion if that’s what you have handy in your pantry.
- Celery and Carrots: Diced carrots add a pop of color and an earthy sweetness – and celery imparts a mild herbal essence.
- Thyme and Oregano: No need to get fancy here. The stuff from the jars in your spice rack works perfectly!
- Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth: This is the main savory element in this white bean soup. If you’re making a vegetarian soup, you know what to do.
- Navy Beans: Navy beans are small, cook quickly and have a nutty, almost sweet flavor to them. You can also use cannellini beans – or even great northern beans – in this Italian soup if you prefer. More on beans in a sec.
- Baby Spinach: Add chopped baby spinach right at the end. It delivers a bright green color to the soup and has a softer texture than the more traditional kale (which is also great!).
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan delivers an almost creamy element to the soup. It’s stirred in at the very end – and results in a a soup that is much more savory and umami. If making a vegan Tuscan white bean soup, just omit the cheese.
- Salt and Pepper: Use these seasonings as you see fit. However, I would recommend using kosher salt if handy. The larger salt crystals make it harder to over-salt your food (easy to do with table salt).
Are Navy Beans The Same as Cannellini Beans?
Navy beans are on the small side in terms of white bean variations. They have a sweet nuttiness to them and a very soft, almost creamy interior with a thin skin.
Cannellini beans basically white kidney beans. They are slightly larger and have a more earthy flavor. The skins are thicker – and the resulting mouthfeel is slightly meatier and more substantial.
You can use either variant in this Tuscan white bean soup. I personally prefer navy beans because their inherent creaminess lends an overall smoothness to the soup. Great northern beans would be a decent alternative to navy beans and cannellini beans as well.
How to Make Italian White Bean Soup
- First, gather all of your cooking tools and prep your ingredients.
- Then place a large pot over medium heat and add your olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add your minced garlic, diced onion, celery and carrots.
- Stir fry the veggies for 5 to 7 minutes – until the garlic and onions are fragrant, and the carrots are tender but still yield a bit of a crunch.
- Next, add 1 teaspoon of thyme and 1/2 teaspoon of oregano and stir well.
- Add the broth and beans to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped baby spinach and simmer for an additional 3 minutes.
- Finally turn the heat off, stir in the grated parmesan, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Variations on Italian White Bean Soup
While this recipe is a solid blueprint, there are a ton of ways you can tweak it to make it yours.
- Add a protein: Cooked Italian sausage would add a spiced rustic charm to this soup. Another great option would be shredded chicken – or even turkey.
- Make it vegan: For a vegan Italian white bean soup, simply use vegetable stock and omit the Parmesan cheese – and you’re good to go.
- Make it low-sodium: If you’re watching your salt intake, use low sodium broth and be mindful when adding salt to taste.
- Add a starch: Pastas like ditalini, elbow macaroni or orecchiette are plug and play solutions for adding volume to any Italian soup. Pasta e fagioli anyone? Rice would be great as well.
- Make it spicy: Add a few crushed red pepper flakes (or a bunch).
- Play with the herbs: Freshly chopped Italian parsley or basil your thing? Sprinkle these fresh herbs on just prior to serving.
- Make it thicker: To make this bean soup recipe more stew-like, simply take 1/3 of the cooked soup and place it in a blender (or use an immersion blender). Pulse until you get the desired thickness – then add the thick, blended soup back into the soup pot with the unblended soup and stir. Instant bean stew!
The point is, you can make this recipe as-is, or add your own twist to it. The choice is yours.
What to Serve With Italian Bean Soup
This rustic Tuscan white bean soup is fairly hearty. Therefore, it can be served as either a main dish – or a substantive side dish. There’s nothing I like more than tucking into a bowl of bean soup with a crusty baguette and a salad. Here are some salads and sides that pair perfectly with this simple Italian soup.
How to Store Leftovers
Store any leftover white bean soup in an airtight food storage container in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- You can add volume to a small amount of leftover soup by introducing cooked pasta, rice or a protein like shredded chicken.
- Brighten up your leftover Italian bean soup with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Did you like this recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
This hearty, rustic Tuscan white bean soup has complex flavors, but keeps the cooking process simple. Italian comfort food, brimming with Mediterranean goodness!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium red onion, chopped (or 1 leek, chopped)
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 3 medium to large carrots, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 15 oz cans navy beans, drained
- 1 cup baby spinach, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, for seasoning
- Place a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, onion, celery, and carrots.
- Stir fry for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are tender but still yielding a little crunch.
- Add the thyme and oregano and stir.
- Add the broth and beans and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the baby spinach and simmer for an additional 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat off, stir in the grated parmesan, season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Store leftover Italian bean soup in an airtight food storage container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
Make your leftover soup into a meal by introducing cooked rice, pasta or a protein like crumbled sausage or shredded chicken.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 330
- Sugar: 7.8g
- Sodium: 1408.9mg
- Fat: 9.4g
- Saturated Fat: 2.1g
- Unsaturated Fat: 1.2g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 48.3g
- Fiber: 11.6g
- Protein: 15.8g
- Cholesterol: 3.6mg
Keywords: stew, side dish, fresh, vegetarian