Tuscan White Bean Soup is a comforting soup that’s loaded with flavor from roasted garlic, pancetta, veggies, and herbs. This soup is great as a precursor to a larger meal but is bold enough to shine by itself, or alongside a salad or sandwich.
Tuscan White Bean Soup may be one of the easiest soups you can make.
We love it because it is nourishing, filling, and completely budget-friendly.
It’s also customizable so if you want to make it vegetarian, or vegan you can do that by omitting the chicken stock, pancetta, and Parmigiano Reggiano rind. It will still have incredible flavor thanks to the roasted garlic!
Roasted garlic Tuscan white bean soup is great with a side of garlic bread and a green salad with Italian vinaigrette but also pairs well with sandwiches, like our hot roast beef sandwich with onion jam.
Table of contents
All ingredients for this recipe are shown in the pic below and special notes are made in this bulleted list to assist you.
- Garlic. An entire head of garlic is roasted for this recipe. This simple addition is easy to make and amplifies the flavor of this soup. The roasted garlic can be made in advance and saved for up to 1 week.
- Beans. I used a bag of dried cannellini beans for this Tuscan white bean soup. If you’re doing the same, be sure to soak and soften the beans overnight or they will not be tender enough for the soup. A great alternative is to use canned cannellini beans that have been drained of their liquid, but not rinsed.
- Pancetta. This adds great flavor to the Tuscan white bean soup. You can also use bacon if you can’t find pancetta. If you’re making vegetarian, omit the pancetta and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock.
- Stock. Use homemade chicken stock, or a stock made from low-sodium chicken base.
- Rosemary. Roasted garlic and rosemary make a perfect combo and I love how the flavors complement each other in the soup.
- Parmigiano rinds. These are optional but highly recommended!
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
How to make it
First, roast the garlic
- Preheat your oven to 400f and slice off the top 1/4 inch of a head of garlic to expose the top of the cloves. Place the cut side up on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Wrap the garlic in the foil, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 40 minutes. (Photo #1)
- Remove the garlic from the oven and allow it to cool. Once cool, gently squeeze the bottom of the garlic head to release the cloves. Note: The roasted garlic can be made up to 1 week ahead to speed up the process. (Photo #2)
Next, make the soup
- Dice 4 ounces of pancetta, 1 large onion, 4 celery ribs, and 3 medium carrots. (Photo #1)
- In a large pot, saute the pancetta in a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat until most of the fat has rendered (about 10 minutes). (Photo #2)
- Next, add the celery, onion, and carrots and continue to cook for 10 more minutes or until the veggies have softened. (Photo #3)
- Add a 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and cook for an additional 30 seconds, then add the roasted garlic cloves. (Photo #4)
- Add 6 cups of low-sodium chicken stock, 1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind (optional), 1 large bay leaf, 3 sprigs of rosemary, and 1 pound of cannellini beans. Note: If using dried cannellini beans, use 1 pound and soak them overnight in a pot of water prior to using in the soup. If using canned, use 3 16-ounce cans that have been drained of their liquid. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes. (Photo #5)
- Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the beans against the side of the pot to help thicken the soup. As an alternative, you can use an immersion blender or regular blender to further thicken. If using either type of blender, remove the rosemary, bay leaf, and Parmigiano rinds prior to blending. Taste test the soup and adjust salt and pepper levels to taste. If you’ve not already done so, remove the rind, rosemary, and bay leaf prior to serving in bowls with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and crusty bread. Enjoy! (Photo #6)
The best way to soften dried beans is to soak them overnight. Then in the morning, rinse the beans and place in a pot and add water about an inch higher than the beans and bring to a moderate simmer for 10 minutes. Then, turn the burner to low and cover the pot. Allow them to sit on low heat for an hour or so and check every 30 minutes for tenderness. If your beans are old, they may never soften so make sure the beans you’re using aren’t expired.
- Consistency. Some people prefer a looser white bean soup, while others like it on the thicker side. Customize this to your preference when mashing or blending the beans. Blending the beans will yield a thicker, creamier soup. If you wind up with a soup that’s too thick, simply add a touch of water or chicken stock to loosen it back up.
- Parmigiano rinds. We always recommend saving your Parmigiano rinds as they add great flavor to soups, like pasta e fagioli, or sauces. Some Italian grocery stores will sell just the rinds in their cheese section. If you don’t see any, ask the cheesemonger and they’ll likely have some for you.
- Use homemade stock. Homemade chicken stock not only adds superior flavor, it also gives you greater control over the sodium level in your food and I always recommend using it if you can!
Our favorite soups
We love soup, especially in the cooler months. Here are a few of our absolute favorites that we know you’ll love.
- Italian lentil soup – lentils, spinach, carrots, celery, and onion with a touch of tomato.
- Chicken wild rice soup – chunks of chicken, carrots, and celery simmered in a creamy broth with wild rice.
- Escarole and bean soup – potatoes, escarole, and cannellini beans.
- Broccoli cheddar soup – creamy blend of broccoli, carrots, onion, and cheddar topped with burnt broccoli.
- Lemon chicken orzo soup – carrots, celery, onion, and garlic with chicken meat, orzo, and lemon juice.
- Baked potato soup – creamy blend of potatoes, sour cream, and cheddar topped with chives and crumbled bacon.
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Tuscan White Bean Soup
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 ounces pancetta diced
- 1 large onion diced
- 4 ribs celery diced
- 3 medium carrots diced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 pound dried cannellini beans soaked overnight and softened, or 3 16-ounce cans
- 6 cups low sodium chicken stock plus more for thinning
- 1 head garlic roasted
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 1 small Parmigiano Reggiano rind optional
- 1 large bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
For the roasted garlic
- Preheat oven to 400f. Cut off the top 1/4-inch of the garlic, exposing the top of the cloves. Place the head cut side up on a sheet of foil and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Wrap tightly with the foil and place onto a baking sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden and soft.
For the soup
- In a large heavy pot saute the pancetta in olive oil over medium-low heat until most of the fat renders (about 10 minutes). Next, add in the celery, onion, and carrots and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes or until the veggies are softened.
- Add in the crushed red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add in the roasted garlic cloves, chicken stock, Parmigiano rind, bay leaf, rosemary, and beans. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.
- Mash the beans with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot to help thicken the soup. For a thicker soup use an immersion or regular blender.
- Taste test the soup and adjust salt and pepper levels to taste. Remove the Parmigiano rind, rosemary stem, and bay leaf before serving. If the soup is too thick, thin with a bit more stock or water.
- Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan, and crusty bread on the side. Enjoy!
- This recipe assumes that the dried beans have been soaked and softened. See the FAQ above on how to soften beans for more information. You can also use canned beans which are already soft and require no prep other than draining.
- Greens like escarole, spinach, or kale can be added to brighten up the soup.
- The roasted garlic can be prepped in advance and saved in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- For a vegetarian dish use vegetable stock and omit the pancetta, chicken stock, and Parmigiano rind.
- Make sure to serve with plenty of crusty bread, grated cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and hot red pepper flakes.
- Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.