Our Tuscan white bean soup is inspired by “Ribollita,” a comforting Italian recipe where tender cannellini beans simmer to perfection with leafy greens and aromatic herbs in a flavorful vegetable broth.
You can expect a wholesome, earthy, and satisfying meal packed with the flavors and aromas of the Italian countryside.
Tuscan soup is excellent during cold winter; it’s great for meal prep as it keeps well for days, and the whole family will love it.
Table of Contents
Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.
The origin of Tuscan white bean soup goes back hundreds of years to humble peasant meals, where local veggies and leftover ingredients were transformed into delicious and nourishing meals.
As traditional recipes make their way into modern days, we understand how simple, nourishing, and sustainable they are.
With our recipe, we hope to bring this timeless Italian recipe into your kitchen.
We simplified some steps, shortened the cooking time, and substituted some ingredients so you can make this recipe at home with little effort.
While doing so, we tried to preserve the essence of this recipe, which is a rustic, earthy, creamy, tasty, and nutritious white bean soup.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
The flavor base is the most crucial step when making soup. It’s called “soffritto” in Italian, and it is used to add a rich base of flavor to this Tuscan white bean soup.
To make it, you’ll need:
- Olive oil: best if extra virgin olive oil. It’s used to cook the veggies gently.
- Onion: it adds sweetness and depth of flavor. You can use white or yellow onions.
- Celery: it adds fresh notes to balance the sweetness.
- Carrot: it adds color and sweetness.
- Garlic: it adds a mild pungent aroma.
- Leek: traditional in Tuscan soup, it adds even more freshness and sweetness.
- Tomato paste: it confers a light red color to the dish, and it adds a rich, savory flavor and umami.
Fresh thyme would be the most authentic as this herb is used in Tuscany for white bean soup.
Substitute dry thyme, oregano, a sprig of rosemary, a couple of bay leaves, or some sage leaves for thyme.
If you like some heat, add 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or a finely chopped chili pepper.
Tuscan white bean soup uses many leafy greens, more specifically, cavolo nero, savoy cabbage, and Swiss chard combined.
Feel free to change them up based on what you have available. Also, you can use one, two, or all three leafy greens.
- Cavolo nero: also known as Lacinato Kale or Dinosaur Kale, this dark leafy green adds a rich and hearty taste with peppery and slightly bitter notes. Substitute curly kale or spinach for cavolo nero.
- Savoy cabbage: savoy cabbage has a mild, delicate, nutty, and slightly sweet flavor. Substitute green cabbage or Chinese cabbage for savoy cabbage.
- Swiss chard, or chard, has a buttery, mild flavor that reminds us of spinach and beets. Substitute Bok Choy for chard.
You can use either vegetable stock or chicken broth.
Using vegetable stock is a simple way to reduce meat consumption if you are interested.
Use cannellini beans or other white beans, such as navy beans or great northern beans.
You can make this with canned beans for a quicker cooking time.
Or, if you want to cook dry beans yourself, soak them for 8 hours in cold water, then change the water and boil them until tender with a teaspoon of salt (about 1 hour).
The best way to serve this white bean soup is with crusty bread, like ciabatta or a rustic loaf.
Slice the bread into thick slices, then toast it or grill it, brush it with garlic, and drizzle with good quality extra virgin olive oil.
To make this soup gluten-free, use gluten-free bread.
You can also add a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese, although the soup is already plenty flavorful, and there’s no real need for it.
Omit the parmesan for dairy-free, and you are good to go, as there’s no cream or butter.
How to make Tuscan white bean soup
US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
1. Start with the flavor base
Chop the onion, celery, and carrots into small dice of similar size.
Cut the leek in half lengthwise, rinse its layers under running water to remove sand, and slice it thinly. Finely chop the garlic.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the extra virgin olive oil, then add the chopped vegetables and fry them gently, on medium to low heat, for 10 minutes. Stir often.
Tip: don’t chop the vegetable too finely. Try to avoid the use of a food processor. This is a rustic soup that should have some texture. The veggies should soften and sweat, but not brown.
Add the tomato paste and fresh or dried thyme and cook for 2 more minutes.
2. Add the leafy greens
While the flavor base cooks, you can rinse and chop the greens into bite-size pieces.
Add chopped kale, savoy cabbage, and chard to the pot. Add 3 cups of vegetable broth and season with salt and black pepper.
Stir and simmer, covered, on medium heat for 10 minutes.
Tip: Discard the woodier stems of the kale if there are any.
3. Add the beans
In a separate bowl, blend 1 cup of drained white cannellini beans and 1 cup of vegetable broth with an immersion blender.
You can also blend the white beans in a standing blender.
Note: blending the beans is a traditional Italian technique for making the soup creamy without using dairy.
Pour the blended beans and the remaining white beans into the pot with the veggies.
Stir and keep simmering for another 10 to 15 minutes, uncovered.
Tip: The longer you simmer, the creamier, tastier, and thicker it gets. If it gets too thick, add more vegetable broth.
When you’ve reached your desired consistency, taste and adjust for salt, turn the heat off, and, if you have time, let the soup cool down for 10 minutes before serving.
This allows the flavors to meld.
Tip: In Italy usually, there is no acidity added to soups. If you are missing that, you can add a squeeze of lemon before serving.
Our favorite way of serving white bean soup is with a thick slice of rustic crusty bread, toasted or grilled and brushed with garlic, sprinkled with a pinch of salt, and drizzled with good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Optionally, you can add a sprinkle of grated parmesan.
As an alternative to crusty bread, you can serve it with:
- No–knead focaccia that you can use to sop up the tasty juices.
- 10-minute crostini made in the oven with guaranteed crunch!
- Italian bruschetta with eggplant or tomato.
Make it guest-friendly, and serve it with different toppings. For example:
Storage & Make Ahead
Make ahead: Tuscan soup is an excellent recipe for meal prep as it keeps for days, and its flavor improves as the ingredients meld together.
Refrigerator: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The next day, the soup will be even more delicious! Reheat it in a pot with some water or microwave for 2 minutes.
Freezer: let the Tuscan soup cool down completely, then transfer it to a freezer-friendly container and freeze for up to three months.
Thaw: defrost it in the fridge over several hours, in the microwave or stovetop.
It’s called Tuscan soup because the original recipe is from the Tuscany region in Italy.
Blended white beans are the thickener in a white bean soup. They create a creamy texture and consistency that thickens the broth and ties the other ingredients together.
There are several varieties of white beans, including Italian cannellini beans, Great Northern Beans, Navy beans, Baby Lima Beans, Butter Beans, Black Eyed Beans, and Flageolet Beans.
There are also other regional varieties, like Italian zolfini and toscanelli.
More legume recipes
Beans, chickpeas, and lentils are some of our favorite foods! If you’re hungry for more legume recipes, have a look at these easy meals:
- Lentil bolognese with a rich and earthy sauce, a restaurant-worthy pasta!
- Easy lentil curry: a reader favorite and easy to make in about 30 minutes.
- White bean dip: a hummus recipe but with beans and an easy appetizer idea.
- Lentil vegetable soup with spinach, canned tomatoes, and dried lentils.
- Pasta e Fagioli with pinto beans, kidney beans, and ditalini pasta.
- Chickpea soup and chickpea stew.
- Pasta e ceci: Italian pasta with chickpea.
- Curry lentil soup.
More Soup Recipes
If you’re big on soups like we are, look at these selected soup recipes. They are all easy and delicious!
- Carrot and ginger soup
- Zucchini soup is a light, easy, and tasty recipe served with homemade croutons.
- Eggplant soup with crispy air fryer chickpeas.
- Tofu soup with seasonal veggies and Asian flavors.
- Butternut squash soup with an easy bake-and-blend technique.
- Lentil soup is a super tasty Italian-inspired recipe.
- Kale soup with white beans and fresh herbs.
- Potato leek soup.
For more curries, stews, and soups, check out our soups category page.
Tuscan White Bean Soup
- Immersion blender or standing blender
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 3 medium carrots chopped
- 1 leek thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- ⅓ cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon thyme or 1 sprig of rosemary
- 8 ounces kale sub spinach
- 8 ounces chard sub Bok choi
- 8 ounces savoy cabbage sub Chinese cabbage
- 3 cans (15-ounce each) white beans cannellini or navy beans – 4 cups if using cooked beans
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1½ teaspoons salt or more to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 slices crusty bread toasted, rubbed with garlic, and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Parmesan cheese is optional.
MAKE THE FLAVOR BASE
- In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add 1 large onion, 3 stalks celery, 3 medium carrots (all chopped), 1 leek (thinly sliced), and 2 cloves garlic (pressed).Cook gently for 10 minutes. Stir often.
- Add ⅓ cup tomato paste and 1 teaspoon thyme and cook for 2 more minutes.
ADD THE GREENS
- Rinse and chop 8 ounces kale, 8 ounces chard, and 8 ounces savoy cabbage, then add them to the pot.Add 3 cups vegetable broth and season with 1½ teaspoons salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper.Stir, cover with a lid, and simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.
ADD THE BEANS
- Blend 1 cup of white beans (drained) with 1 cup of vegetable broth.
- Pour blended beans and remaining whole beans into the pot with the veggies. Stir and keep simmering for another 10 to 15 minutes, uncovered.Taste and adjust for salt and let soup cool down 10 minutes.
- Serve with a thick slice of toasted crusty bread, brushed with garlic, sprinkled with a pinch of salt, and drizzled with good quality extra virgin olive oil.