This hearty Tuscan White Bean Soup recipe is bursting with flavor and loaded with fresh vegetables, beans and bacon! It’s all made entirely in just one pot and ready in 30 minutes or less. Plus, it’s freezer friendly too, making it perfect for meal prep. It’s a creamy, hearty and comforting bean soup recipe that you and your family will love!
Reader comment: Every time I make this it turns out so well! Tomorrow it goes to to my husband’s work for a soup competition!!” – Tara
Continue to read on for helpful tips and easy tricks for preparing the perfect cannellini beans soup. And, don’t miss the in-depth step by step photos and recipe video at the bottom of the post!
Update: This post was originally published in January 2015. I took new photos and made updates to the post below to include more information about this One Pot Tuscan Bean Soup. Plus, I added a recipe video and step by step photos to show you how easy this bean and bacon soup is to make!
Hi, friends! What’s shaking? I don’t know about you, but all this cold weather has me feeling totally tired and rundown. Or maybe Mercury is in retrograde? Who knows. But, what I DO know, is whenever I’m feeling beat, I always crave a big ‘ole bowl of hearty, warming soup.
And, this soup I’m sharing today most definitely fits that bill! While this bean soup doesn’t give me everlasting energy (maybe I need a gobstopper for that), it definitely always warms my soul and happily fills my belly! I’m hoping it will do the same for you.
About this Tuscan bean soup recipe
Also known as, my go-to soup for the colder seasons! Fact – I make a lot of soups. However, this Tuscan bean and bacon soup is so comforting and delicious, my other half requests it (multiple times) every single fall and winter season without fail.
This white bean soup is light, yet hearty and loaded with tender white beans, smoky bacon, fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs! It’s silky, velvety and luscious with a rustic, chunky texture, and a salty, savory, and subtly earthy taste.
Aside from the cozy, delicious taste, this soup is insanely easy and foolproof to prepare, plus it’s made entirely in just one pot! This recipe is made with humble, inexpensive ingredients and comes together in 30 minutes or less! But, don’t let the fuss-free preparation and easy to find ingredient list fool you! This soup will quickly become a permanent addition to your dinner rotation!
Oh, and did I mention this soup is packed with healthy veggies and protein-rich beans!? That means it’s not just good for your soul, it’s good for your waistline too! Basically, it’s comfort food done right!
What is Tuscan white bean soup?
Tuscan soup with white beans, also known as Ribollita, is a rustic, hearty stew from Tuscany. Ribollita, which translated to “re-boiled”, originated in the hilltop villages throughout Tuscany during the Middle Ages. Hard-working peasants would pocket leftover crusts of bread and bits of meat after serving wealthy landowners. The peasants would add the leftovers to their soups and stews; thus Ribollita was born.
There are many variations of Tuscan soup; however, traditionally it’s made with cannellini beans and simple garden-fresh vegetables, such as celery, carrots, onions along with flavorful seasonings, such as garlic in a flavorful broth.
There are numerous renditions and a plethora of optional additions, such as kale, cabbage, potatoes, Italian sausage or ham. Along with the common main ingredients traditionally found in Tuscan bean soup, this recipe also features crispy bacon for a touch of smoky, meaty richness.
What ingredients do I need to make bean soups?
This easy soup is hearty and bursting with flavor! This fool-proof recipe relies on simple, readily-available ingredients for the best hearty, comforting taste! (Scroll down for the detailed measurements in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.)
- Bacon: I prefer to use thick, center-cut bacon; however, you can use any cut of bacon, or try substituting pancetta instead!
- Shallots: Two large shallots add a delicate and slightly sweet flavor onion flavor. Or, you can substitute any onion – yellow, white or red, if you prefer.
- Carrots: Three medium carrots provide a touch of sweet flavor to the base of the soup.
- Celery: Three ribs of celery add a slight umami flavor.
- Garlic: Use freshly minced garlic for the best punchy taste!
- Seasonings: Crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt and ground black pepper all provide a depth of flavor.
- White Wine: Any dry white wine you like will work! Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc are all great options! Or, you can substitute more stock instead.
- Beans: You can use a variety of white beans in this recipe; however, I recommend you select a low- or reduced-sodium brand. (See below to read about types of beans you can use!)
- Herbs: Fresh rosemary, a dried bay leaf and parsley all add a depth of earthy, herbaceous flavor.
- Parmesan: One parmesan rind adds a delicious salty complexity, while a half cup of grated parmesan adds sharp, savory flavor. Make sure you freshly grate your cheese for the best taste!
- Cream: Heavy cream provides a creamy, luxurious mouthfeel. The precise amount of heavy cream will depend upon your preference and taste. You can substitute half-and-half, whole milk or omit it entirely, instead.
What white beans are best for soup?
While there are four different varieties of white beans, cannellini beans are customarily used in white bean soup. Although there are slight differences – such as flavor and size -between each variety of white beans, you can use them interchangeably. If you don’t have cannellini beans on hand, try a different variety! You never know which type of white beans you and your family will love best!
Best white beans for soups
- Cannellini: Cannellini beans, also known as White Kidney Beans, are the largest white bean. They are meaty with a nutty, earthy flavor and tender flesh. They retain their shape and texture well during cooking, which makes them perfect for bean soups and stews! However, they are also delicious in lighter dishes, such as white bean salads!
- Navy: Navy beans, also called pea beans, are smaller than both Cannellini and Great Northern beans. They have a mild flavor and become deliciously creamy when cooked, which makes them perfect for mashing and thickening soups!
- Great Northern: Medium-sized Great Northern Beans are smaller than Cannellini beans. They are mild and nutty in flavor with a firm flesh. While they are commonly used in French cassoulets, you can also use them in soup.
- Baby Lima: Baby Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are small with a creamy, buttery texture. They are starchier than the other varieties of white beans, which also makes them a delicious option for thickening soups!
How to customize this soup recipe with beans?
Want to make some alterations or additions to this Tuscan bean soup?! No problem! I encourage you to make this recipe your own! Get creative and add your family’s favorite ingredients! Below are a few ideas to get you started.
- Sausage: Make this soup a meat lover’s dream! Toss in some sliced smoked sausage or ground Italian sausage after you sauté the vegetables, but before you add the garlic.
- Fennel: Substitute the celery for an equal amount of chopped fennel.
- Zucchini: Toss in diced zucchini when you add the shallots.
- Potato: Add in peeled and diced russet potatoes along with the shallots, carrots and celery.
- Hearty Greens: Stir in chopped Tuscan Lacinato kale, Swiss chard or savoy cabbage after you sauté the vegetables. Sauté the kale for 7-8 minutes (or until soft), then deglaze with wine.
- Tomatoes: Love tomatoes? Add 1 1/2 – 2 cups of freshly diced tomatoes, or 1 can of diced tomatoes when you add the stock and beans.
- Leafy Greens: Need an extra dose of leafy greens? Stir in some fresh baby spinach or arugula during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
- Seasonings and Herbs: Want a boost of flavor? Add in a bit of Italian seasoning blend, smoked paprika or fresh thyme!
- Bread: Do you prefer an ultra thick and hearty soup? Add 1 to 2 cups of torn day-old bread during the last 10-12 minutes of cooking.
Pro-tip: Keep in mind, if you are adding hearty ingredients to this soup, you will also need to add more stock or cream!
How to thicken soups with beans?
This Tuscan white bean soup is rustic, chunky and slightly broth-y. However, if your soup seems a little on the thin side, or you simply prefer a thick and creamy texture, there are a few ways to thicken your soup!
Easy ways to thicken white bean soups
- Puree some of the beans: You can mash or puree some of the beans (about 1-2 cups) near the end of cooking and stir the mixture back into the soup. This method will produce a soup that’s a good mix of silky and chunky texture. There are three ways you can puree some of the beans in soup:
- Potato masher: Use a potato masher to mash a portion of the beans in the pot.
- Use an immersion blender: Turn the heat under the pot off. Place the immersion blender right into the pot. Turn the blender on and carefully puree until you achieve desired consistency.
- Stand blender: Transfer part of the soup with a ladle or measuring cup to a standing blender. Carefully puree. Add the puree back to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Add bread: This method is the most traditional way to thicken Ribollita. Tear day-old bread into small pieces. Stir the bread into the soup and cook the bread down until the soup is thickened.
- Use a slurry: A slurry in a mixture of starch and liquid. You can add a slurry to the soup towards the end of the cooking process. For the starch thickening agent, you can use flour, cornstarch, arrowroot or potato starch. Start with 1 tablespoon of starch and add an equal amount of water. Stir until a smooth paste forms. Whisk the slurry into the soup – just make sure the soup is simmering to activate the slurry.
How to make Tuscan beans soup?
This hearty, rustic soup is extremely easy to prepare and can be ready in 30 minutes or less! This recipe is made entirely in one pot and only requires 10 ingredients plus a few pantry seasonings and fresh herbs!
- Cook the bacon: Place a large pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Cook until the bacon is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate, leaving 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings in pan. Set aside.
Saute the vegetables: Increase the heat to medium high. Add shallots, carrot, and celery to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; cook until aromatic.
- Deglaze the pan: Add the white wine to deglaze pan, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine is reduced to 2 tablespoons.
- Add liquid, beans + herbs: Add the chicken stock, beans with their liquid, rosemary sprigs, bay leaf and parmesan rind (if using).
- Boil, then simmer: Increase the heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add bacon, cream, parsley + parmesan: Use tongs to remove the rosemary sprigs and bay leaf. Add in the bacon, half-and-half, parsley and parmesan. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with more parmesan cheese. Drizzle with olive oil if using. Enjoy!
Step-by-step photos: Making soup with white beans
(Don’t forget to scroll down for the detailed instructions in the complete printable recipe at the bottom of the page.)
Serving soups with beans recipes
How to serve white beans soup?
This easy Ribollita soup is hearty enough to be served as a stand-alone main meal; however, you can also serve it as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to a lighter entree.
What to serve with white soup with beans?
Tuscan soup is traditionally served with toasted Tuscan bread; however, you can serve this soup with any way you want. Below are a few delicious serving options for bean soup!
Chef’s recommendation: Try serving this bean and bacon soup in a bread bowl for a fast restaurant-quality soup dinner. Or, serve it with your favorite seasonal vegetables (roasted) and plenty of crusty bread for a more well-rounded family meal.
7 sides to serve with Tuscan soup:
- Bread: This soup tastes absolutely amazing served in a bread bowl! Or, you can just serve it with plenty of bread for sopping up the flavorful broth!
- Salad: A hearty kale or spinach salad are delicious pairing options!
- Peppers: Any type of stuffed pepper will pair fantastically with this soup!
- Tomatoes: Burst, roasted tomatoes are a delicious and simple side option!
- Roasted Vegetables: Your favorite seasonal vegetable is a great way to balance out the meal!
- Sandwiches: A crispy, warm panini is an obvious choice for serving with soup!
- Sausages: Grilled or sautéed Italian sausages are a wonderful way to add more protein!
Storing white beans soup recipe
Allow the leftover bean soup to cool completely. Transfer the soup to an airtight storage container. Store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
You can reheat your leftover soup a couple different ways!
- Stovetop: Transfer the leftover portion of soup to a medium saucepan or large pot. If necessary add a bit of stock or water to thin out the soup. Reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm throughout.
- Microwave: Add the leftover soup to a microwave-safe container and stir in a bit of stock if needed to thin. Place a microwave-safe lid on top of the container, leaving the lid slightly cracked at the side (forming a vent). Reheat, stirring every 60 seconds, until the soup is warm throughout.
Freezing this recipe for white bean soup
Absolutely! This recipe freezes beautifully, making it perfect for meal prep or easy heat-and-eat weeknight dinners!
To Freeze: Prepare the soup according to recipe instructions. Remove the soup from stovetop and allow it to cool completely. Transfer the soup to a freezer-safe resealable bag or airtight container. Squeeze out all air, seal tightly, and freeze. The soup will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To Prepare: When ready to use, thaw the soup in the refrigerator overnight. Add the soup to a large pot and reheat over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed throughout. Serve as directed and enjoy!
More recipe testimonials!
Here’s what readers are saying about this delicious white beans soup recipe:
- “AMAZING soup! [I] didn’t add the half and half and it was still delicious. One of our new fave soups!” – Briana
- “Layer upon layer of flavor and texture, I love this soup! Great recipe!” – Susanne
- “Super tasty, huge portions! Made a double batch for 7 servings and we put more than half of it in the freezer for later! [I’m] excited to have it as a meal later this month again!” – Alder
- “Absolutely delicious; [it’s] now a regular in my recipe planning.” – Lindsay
No matter how you choose to serve this, or how old you feel, I can guarantee you will enjoy this soup and momentarily forget about whatever is ailing you.
Until next time, friends, cheers!
More soup recipes with beans!
If you love this bean and bacon soup, try one of these delicious recipes next:
How to make the best Tuscan White Bean Soup with bacon recipe plus step-by-step video👇
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Bacon
- 10 strips Bacon – diced
- 2 large Shallots – peeled & small dice (about 1 1/2 cup)
- 3 medium Carrot – peeled & small dice (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 medium Celery – small dice (about 3/4 cup)
- 4 small cloves Garlic – peeled & minced (SEE NOTES)
- ¼ tsp crushed Red Pepper Flakes - more or less, to taste
- ¾ tsp Kosher Salt , plus more to taste
- heaping 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper , plus more to taste
- ½ cup White Wine
- 4 Cups Reduced sodium Chicken Stock - (can substitute vegetable stock)
- 2 (14.5 oz) cans Cannellini Beans or Great Northern Beans - UNDRAINED (SEE NOTES)
- 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 Parmesan Cheese Rind
- ¼ - ½ Cup Heavy Cream - (you can substitute Half and Half)
- 1 TBS fresh Parsley leaves – chopped, or more for serving
- ½ Cup Parmigiano Reggiano , plus more for serving
- Cook bacon: Place a large stock pot over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until bacon is crisp and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate, leaving bacon drippings in pan. Set aside.
- Remove bacon - leave fat: You want about 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pot, if you do not have enough fat, add extra virgin olive oil to pan until you have about 1 tablespoon of liquid (just eyeball this).
- Saute vegetables: Increase heat to medium high. Add shallots, carrot, and celery to pot. Cook, stirring frequently until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper; cook until aromatic, 30 seconds - 1 minute.
- Deglaze the pan: Add white wine to deglaze pan, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine is reduced to 2 tablespoon, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add liquid, beans + herbs: Add the chicken stock, beans with their liquid, rosemary sprigs, bay leaf and parmesan rind (if using).
- Boil, then simmer: Increase heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 15-18 minutes.
- Add bacon, cream, parsley + parmesan: Use tongs to remove the rosemary sprigs and bay leaf. (I leave in the parmesan rind, but you can remove and discard it.) Add in the bacon, 1/4 cup of cream, chopped parsley leaves and grated parmesan. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Taste the soup, add more cream for a richer taste and texture.
- Optional To Thicken Soup: (You can serve the soup as is for a brothy consistency, or you can thicken the soup with one of the two methods below.) For an ultra creamy, bisque-like texture, puree the entire soup. 1. Use an Immersion blender to blend some of the soup until desired consistency is reached. Or, use a potato masher to mash some of the beans. Blend about 1-2 cups of the soup for a slightly creamy yet rustic texture.2. Stand Mixer: Remove 1-2 cups of the soup to a stand mixer. Puree the soup and then add the mixture back to the pot. , add back in removed beans.
- To serve: Ladle soup into serving bowls. Garnish with more grated parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Drizzle with a bit of good-quality extra virgin olive oil for a flavorful finish. Serve and enjoy!
- Garlic: If you have an aversion to garlic, you might want to cut the amount of garlic in half, or adjust the amount to your liking.
- Beans: DO NOT drain the beans! The liquid contains starch and helps thicken the soup. However, the liquid does contain sodium, so keep that in mind when adding salt to the soup!
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