Recipes > Italian White Bean Soup

Italian White Bean Soup


Velvety cannellini beans make up this mild and extremely versatile Italian soup.
  • Serves: 8 to 10
  • Active Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr - 11 hrs
  • Views: 70,184
  • Success Rating: 86% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Soaking the Beans

Soaking the Beans
  • 2 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans (about 1 pound)*
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf


*Note: Any small, white, dried beans can be substituted for cannellini beans (i.e., white kidney beans, Great Northern beans or navy beans).

Before soaking the beans, first sort and rinse them to remove any dust or debris. Place the beans into a large bowl and cover with cold water plus at least 2 inches. Peel and smash the whole cloves of garlic and add to the bowl along with the bay leaf. Let soak for 8 hours or even overnight.

Step 2: Cooking the Beans

Cooking the Beans
  • 4 liters (or quarts) of cold water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt


First drain and rinse the soaked beans. To cook the beans, place them into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cover with the cold water. Add the bay leaves and extra-virgin olive oil and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the beans come to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar and let cook for about an hour until the beans start to become tender.

After the first hour, add the salt and continue to simmer for another hour or so until the liquid has reduced to about 3 liters (or quarts). Stir the beans occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot.

Step 3: Finishing the Soup

Finishing the Soup
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried red chili flakes
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper. to taste
  • 1 large bunch kale
  • 4 plant-based sausages (see Rouxbe for plant-based sausage recipe)
  • 2 tsp grapeseed oil
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing


Once the soup has reduced to about 3 quarts and the beans are nice and tender, make the soffritto.

First, émincé the garlic. Place a small skillet on the stove top. Add the extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and chili flakes. Slowly heat the mixture over medium-low heat. Cook just until the garlic releases its aroma and just starts to turn color. Do not let it brown or burn. Add about 1 cup of the broth to the pan and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.

Pour the soffritto into the pot and stir to combine. Simmer the soup for about 5 more minutes. Season further to taste. The soup can be served as is, or it can be finished with a variety of other ingredients, such as fresh kale and plant-based sausage.

To do this, remove the tough stems from the kale and tear or cut into 1 to 2" -inch pieces. Wash and spin dry.

For the sausage, either prepare the Vegan Sausage or cut sausages of choice into bite size pieces. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Fry the sausage until cooked through and golden on all sides. Once done, transfer the sausage to plate lined with paper towels to drain. Drain any excess oil from the pan and add the kale. Toss, season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and cover for about 2 minutes until it wilts and becomes tender.

To serve the soup, place a bit of kale into a warmed bowl, followed by a few pieces of sausage. Ladle the hot soup over top. Serve with some Plant-Based Parmesan and a splash of quality olive oil.

Alternate method:

To finish the soup, remove the tough stems from the kale and tear or cut into 1 to 2" -inch pieces. Wash and spin dry. Add the kale to the soup and gently simmer until softened, about 5 to 10 minutes.

If desired, drizzle with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Chef's Notes

The soup base can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days; alternatively, it can be cooled and transferred to tightly-sealed containers and frozen for up to 6 months.

Other ideas for finishing the soup: chicory, escarole, Swiss chard, spinach, arugula, basil, broccoli or even sautéed fennel.


  • Cheryl O
    Cheryl O
    I have cooked this soup with kale or spinach and a variety of seasoning meats such as pancetta, sausage, and country ham. It always comes out delicious. Another source suggested bringing the beans to a simmer on the stove top and then finishing them by low-heat simmering in the oven (250 degrees) to avoid having the beans lose their firm but tender texture. I have tried this and it works well.
  • Jeana E
    Jeana E
    is 11 hours correct?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    "Total Time" takes into consideration that you are soaking and cooking your own beans, using the overnight method of soaking the beans. If you are making this using canned beans then the "Total Time" would be quite a bit less; however the results would not be nearly as good, especially with this recipe. Hope this helps to clarify things. Cheers!
  • Lee B
    Lee B
    Is it ok to substitute a low sodium chicken broth instead of straight water?
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Personally, I don't think this soup needs it. It is absolutely delicious with water. You could try using stock, but keep in mind that when cooking beans, any salt that is added at the beginning will cause the beans to take longer to cook and may not become as tender as they could. Refer to the How to Cook Dried Legumes lesson in the Cooking School. Just try making it once with water. The soup is velvety and rich and the soffrito which is added at the end gives it incredible flavor. Cheers!
  • Martha W
    Martha W
    Made this soup last night after I got home from work. No chicken broth is needed, the water became flavorful enough with the sofrito. I added salt at the very end once it had cooled down a bit (it's my Puerto Rican aunt's teaching: Never add salt to the beans before they cool or they will get hard!). I also used chicken sausage with fennel and came out just as good. Thanks for teaching me about the parmesan rinds. They added such a nice rich flavor to the broth. Will be using them for many future soups this winter. Delicious!
  • L J
    L J
    There's no mention in the text of removing the skins off the beans. However, after soaking canellini beans, quite a few of them had the skins falling off and it seemed like I should be skinning them although it's pretty tedious work. Are the beans supposed to be skinned?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    No the beans do not need to be peeled. For more information on soaking and cooking beans, you may want to review the lesson on "How to Cook Dried Legumes" as we go into quite a bit more detail there. Cheers!
  • Brenda L
    Brenda L
    Wow. This soup came out fabulous, without stock!. Before RB I always had to adjust recipes. Another pot of perfection here. I'm learning a lot too. My new Kyocera knife made emince fun and nice and making siffrotto was my first time. Any other sifrotto uses? Using fresh bay from the back yard was a big plus. My only recommendation is get to the garden store and get a small bay tree!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    The uses for soffritto are really limitless. Just think of as mirepoix, which is actually what it is, it's just the Italian word for it. However, a soffritto is typically made with olive oil rather than butter in a French mirepoix. Cheers!
  • Constantine
    The soffritto is such a cool idea. Wow. I was wondering why could you not include the garlic and chili flakes at the beginning of the soup when you start boiling the beans and skip the soffrito step? And also is it crucial to add the soffrito 5 minutes before the soup is done? I am guessing that perhaps that flavor and aroma get lost if you boil the stuff for an hour, and that gently warming the aromatics in oil bring out their flavor best. Is that right? Thanks!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    You are correct Constantine, if you were to just add the soffritto at the beginning, then the flavors would all blend together. By adding the soffritto near the end, the flavors are still someone separate and more pronounced. As for exactly when the soffritto is added, no it is not "crucial to add the soffritto 5 minutes before the soup is done" but added it a few minutes before the soup is done, is just so that the flavors can blend together a bit. With that said, you should experiment—try making the soup and try adding the soffritto at different times. For instance, add it more near the beginning and then try adding it right at the end, or even as you serve the soup and take notice of how this alters the final results. Hope that helps. Cheers!
  • Starllie S
    Starllie S
    This is delicious! I have never enjoyed canned white beans but to cook them makes a huge difference in the taste. The soffritto is full of flavour.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Glad you liked them! They pick up flavor and carry flavor really well as they are more neutral than other beans. Keep cooking and enjoy!
  • Ken N
    Ken N
    I noticed in the introduction to this recipe there is a photo that shows about a dozen little matched white 'dishes' that hold the measured ingredients ready to use. This sounds like a good idea. Is this the common way to get ingredients ready, measured and have them at hand ready to use? If so, I would like to get a set of little dishes like this. What are they called? Can I get them at Metro Kitchen?
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Good question Ken — those little white dishes are just little dishes that I picked up at a local Asian store (they are fairly cheap as well). I believe they use them for soy sauce. Sometimes these smaller dishes are called ramekins, but ramekins are often a big bigger (individual sized dishes). We do use them quite often, especially on set and/or when I really need to be organized and tidy. Hope that helps. Cheers.
  • Kimberly H
    Kimberly H
    This was delicious. Thanks for the recipe to help get me started with plant-based cooking. My broth was cloudier than the image, though. I wonder if this is because I turned up the heat-because I lost the simmer-and came back to a boiling pot. I will have to try it again.
  • Kirk B
    Kirk B
    Hi Kimberly and thanks for your comments! I am happy to hear that your soup was delicious. As for your cloudy broth, your instincts are correct. If you can keep that simmer going and try not to stir too much when the broth is developing it's flavor, clarity and viscosity, you will minimize the risk of a cloudy broth or stock. I definitely encourage you to try again. Thanks so much for engaging with Rouxbe! Chef Kirk
  • Sunnie S
    Sunnie S
    I was surprised at how much flavor was extracted by simply cooking the beans in water and that the resulting liquid could become flavorful enough to actually work as the base of the soup (with a few added ingredients, like the soffritto, of course). My grocery store only had garbanzo beans available so that I what I used. I soaked the beans for about 18 hours and they still took over 2 hours, 30 minutes to soften (and, even then, many of them were still pretty al dente, which I only noticed as I was eating the soup). My cooking liquid dwindled too, especially once I passed the 2 hour mark. I was afraid to add more water because I did not want to dilute the flavor of my bean broth...I thought about adding vegetable stock, but really wanted to experience the flavor true flavor of the bean broth. So, ultimately, I chose not to add any more liquid and my bean to broth ratio was off (too many beans, not enough broth). I'm wondering if the type of bean used (garbanzo) affected the cooking time (and possibly soaked up more of my liquid than a cannellini or navy bean would have)? I was sure to only add the salt 1 hour into the cooking process. I also added a Pecorino Romano rind to the soup after the beans simmered for an hour. Maybe the cheese rind affected the cooking time? In the end, I added the soffritto and fresh kale and simmered for about 5 minutes and topped the soup with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese. It had great flavor, I just need to resolve my liquid/bean issue.
  • Char N Rouxbe Staff
    Char N
    Hi Sunnie: I like cooking with white beans because they cook quickly, compared to garbanzo beans. White beans have a thinner skin. This is a good read about garbanzo beans: When I cook garbanzo beans from dried beans, I soak them for 24 hours, plus 2. So, it was the type of bean. Many friends love using an electric pressure cooker, I gave mine away, Wasn't a fan. However, after soaking, I cook my soaked beans in my rice cooker, and the beans are perfectly cooked. It was the bean that changed the outcome of your recipe. Try making it again with the white beans--you will see the difference. Keep cooking, and thanks for your good detective work. -Char
  • James S
    James S
    Any suggestions for making it oiless?
  • Sandy S
    Sandy S
    Hi James, When cooking the beans (step 2), you can simply omit the olive oil. When it comes to sautéing the garlic and the sausage (if using), you can use the "No-Oil Sauté" or "Dry Sauté" method. Just be sure to have some broth close by to deglaze the pan before things threaten to get too dark. Cheers, Sandy
  • Matthew H
    Matthew H
    This was awesome with very little ingredients and a similar amount of execution. Thank you so much, It made a cold rainy day almost now my house smells wonderful!

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