Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil

Italian white bean soup

Soup is hearty, nourishing, and satisfying

Hearty and nourishing, Italian white bean soup is what you need to sustain you through a long work day, when taking care of children or nursing a baby, to refuel after a workout, or frankly anytime you want a satisfying meal. This plant-based soup is chock full of vitamins and minerals that are easy for your body to assimilate because all of the vegetables, beans, and sea salt are cooked together in a broth. Bean soups generally reheat well, so make a double or triple batch so that you can store some in the freezer and thaw it out for last-minute weeknight meals. I always add some fresh greens like baby spinach or kale when reheating my soup on the stove. It adds freshness and color to what would otherwise be a boring leftover meal.


Homemade or canned beans?

You can sub 2 cans of white beans for the homemade beans in this recipe, but it will not be as delicious. Homemade beans are truly wonderful, more digestible (when soaked, drained, and cooked with kombu) and flavorful than canned, but you do have to plan ahead. I usually soak a big batch of beans every week or two, and cook them until soft and season with sea salt. If you use a pressure cooker, it cuts down on the cooking time. I freeze whatever I’m not going to use in the next few days in quart-sized freezer bags. When it comes time to make a soup I thaw out a bag of beans instead of having to start from scratch. More detailed instructions on how to make beans from scratch are in my posts Homemade Black Beans and Macrobiotic-style Giant Peruvian Lima Beans.


Fresh ingredients are the key to a delicious soup

Choose ingredients that are fresh and full of life. If celery or carrots have gone limp, you can perk them up by cutting a little slice off the bottom of each vegetable and stand up in a quart-sized mason jar filled halfway with water. Within 30-60 minutes your vegetables should be rehydrated and ready to use. The last few years I’ve been growing fresh herbs in pots on my back porch. You can even put a little planter in a sunny windowsill if you don’t have a yard or porch to garden in. It’s amazing how much more delicious herbs are when picked right before you use them.


Learn how to prep veggies with skill and ease with my knife skills cooking video

Once you have a few knife skills under your belt it is so easy to whip together a big pot of soup. Check out my latest cooking video on how to slice and dice veggies for this soup here. In the video I show how to dice an onion into perfectly even pieces, how to slice a zucchini into half or quarter moons, how to dice carrots, and how to slice celery on the bias.

 

Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian, Macrobiotic, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • Beans
  • 1 cup dried organic white beans (cannellini, navy, or giant white lima)
  • kombu, 1” square
  • spring or filtered water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Soup
  • 1 small yellow onion or sweet onion, diced
  • pinch unrefined sea salt
  • 1 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced in diagonals
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in quarter moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 4 cups water or vegetable stock (Imagine brand no-chicken vegetable stock
  • recommended)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste
Instructions
Beans
  1. Sort, rinse, and soak the beans in spring or filtered water overnight. When beans are rehydrated, discard the bean soaking water.
  2. In medium pot, add beans and enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches and bring to a boil. Skim foam and add kombu. Cover, turn to low, and simmer until beans are tender. Season with sea salt and set aside. Alternatively, pressure cook white beans instead of boiling after skimming foam and adding kombu. Once beans are up to pressure with lid locked, turn to low and cook for about 15 minutes. Then turn off heat and let come down from pressure naturally before opening up pot.
Soup
  1. In medium-sized soup pot, sauté onion with a pinch of sea salt in olive oil until soft.
  2. Add carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, and rosemary, and cook a few minutes more.
  3. Add cooked beans and water or stock. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until flavors are blended.
  4. Add basil and season with more sea salt, if needed.
  5. Garnish with fresh parsley or other seasonal herbs and serve warm.
Variations
  1. Garnish with pieces of pan-fried dulse instead of parsley.
  2. When reheating, add a handful of baby spinach or kale.
  3. Make a large batch and freeze half to warm up later.
  4. Use chicken stock or chicken bone broth in place of the vegetable stock.
  5. Add 1 cup cooked shredded chicken for a heartier soup.

 

Watch these videos I made with Dr. Jonathan Schultz of Family First Chiropractic (Austin, TX) on making Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil:

Italian White Bean Soup video:

 

Knife skills and veggie prep for Italian White Bean Soup video:

 

Related recipes on my blog:

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli Pasta

Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

Homemade Black Bean

 

Upcoming Classes and Workshops:

I’m teaching the kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars shop in the Arboretum (NW Austin) this summer! Please check out the schedule here.

For the schedule of classes at my home in SW Austin, click here.

For private and group classes, click here.

Corporate team building workshops centered around cooking and wellness:

Check out my web site for corporate team building and contact me if you have a group interested in doing a workshop with me!

Almond-Orange Biscotti with Chocolate Drizzle

Make these for your next gathering of friends and family. Kids and adults will love them!

This recipe has been a hit when macrobiotic teacher and counselor David Briscoe teaches his “Macro-Vegan Italian Buffet” class to the professional students at The Natural Epicurean several times a year.

Almond-Orange Biscotti with Chocolate Drizzle
 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal (ground flax seed)
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1½ cups Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1¾ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 6 tablespoons coconut spread
  • ¾ cup maple sugar
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon orange extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened coconut milk, almond milk, or soymilk (room temperature)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Make 2 “flax eggs” by combining flax seed meal and water in a small bowl. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until mixture is thick.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together gluten-free flour, almond flour, and baking powder. Add toasted, chopped almonds.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together coconut spread and maple syrup until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla, almond, and orange extracts, orange zest, and flax eggs. Stir to combine well.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and combine well by hand.
  6. Separate the dough into 2 halves. Using your hands, form 2 logs, each about 4 by 10 inches. Place each log on prepared cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven, slice into ovals about an inch thick, place back onto cookie sheet, and bake again for 10-12 minutes. Cool biscotti on cooking rack.
  8. Melt chocolate chips in a saucepan over very low heat with milk. When chips start to melt, remove from heat and whisk until smooth. While still warm, pour melted chocolate into small squeeze bottle (or Ziplock bag with a tiny piece of the corner cut off) and drizzle onto cooled biscotti. Work fast so that chocolate does not cool and become hard.
  9. Alternately, biscotti can be dipped into melted chocolate and coated with extra toasted almonds.

 

“The Great Stromboli” No-Tomato Sauce on No-Uh-Meat-Uh-Balls

A tomato-free sauce is served with vegan meatballs to create a delicious Italian feast! Serve over capellini or your favorite pasta. The secrets of this recipe are using fresh lemon juice to create the tangy tomato taste and fresh cooked beet puree for color. In studying macrobiotics, I have learned that nightshade vegetables (such as tomatoes) can cause inflammation in the body and aggravate conditions such as arthritis and IBS. This recipe is perfect for those trying to avoid nightshades that really miss eating Italian food!

My macrobiotic teacher and friend David Briscoe comes to Austin to teach at The Natural Epicurean for the macrobiotic unit I teach there four times a year. He treats us to this Macro-Vegan Italian Feast each time he comes, and it is always super delicious and packed with nourishment. These dishes are complex in flavor and nutrient-dense. I hope you’ll make the effort to try these recipes as they are truly special!

The sauce starts with a saute of onions, carrots, olive oil, herbs, spices, and garlic.

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After the vegetables are soft, they are pureed and returned to the pot for additional seasoning.

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Finally, a puree of steamed beets is added to create a beautiful tomato-like color.

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"The Great Stromboli" No-Tomato Sauce
 
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 1 cup beets, sliced into rounds
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • 1 clove minced garlic (optional to add more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups carrots, cut into thin diagonal slices
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1½ teaspoons dry basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion granules or powder
  • spring or filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 - 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 -2 tablespoons kuzu, dissolved in ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. Steam beets until tender. Puree until smooth and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Saute the onions and garlic together in olive oil for 3 minutes. Add carrots, basil, oregano, and onion granules/powder. Continue to saute a few minutes.
  3. Add enough water to almost cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cook covered until the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Do not allow the water to cook completely away.
  4. Put the cooked vegetables into a blender, and then add all remaining ingredients EXCEPT THE BEETS. Blend until smooth. Add more water to the ingredients in the blender so they will blend into a thick sauce.
  5. Place the blended ingredients in a pot. Slowly bring to a boil on a medium-low heat. Careful to avoid bubbling and splattering of the thick sauce. Reduce the heat. Slowly whisk in some of the pureed beets, until you create a reddish color like tomato sauce.
  6. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed.

These mushroom and brown rice meatballs are the perfect complement to the no-tomato sauce

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No-Uh-Meat-Uh-Balls
 
Pressure cooking the rice by far creates the best consistency for making these balls. Cook the rice with slightly more water to make it softer and stickier. Serve this on top of capellini or other pasta or solo, smothered in "The Great Stromboli" No-Tomato Sauce.
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 12 meatballs
Ingredients
  • 3 cups pressure-cooked brown rice
  • ½ cup walnuts or pecans, toasted
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (Italian) or puffed brown rice
  • 2 cups sauteed, chopped portabella mushrooms, measured after sautéing
  • ½ cup chopped scallion, roots, white and green parts
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons barley miso or red miso
  • ⅓ cup chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Break the walnuts into pieces. Warm the oil in a frying pan, and then add the walnuts. Saute briefly.
  3. Add the scallion. Saute briefly until the color turns a brighter green.
  4. Add the miso and saute it with the scallions until the miso is evenly distributed throughout the scallion. Remove from heat.
  5. Place the cooked rice, sauteed scallions, miso, walnuts, portabellas, parsely in a bowl. Mix well. Form the mixture into 1½ inch balls, cupping the mixture with your hands firmly like making a snowball.
  6. Test to make sure the balls hold their shape. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes.
Note:
  1. This recipe can be made gluten-free by using a gluten-free red miso (instead of barley miso) and puffed brown rice (instead of bread crumbs).

 

Add some fresh cooked pasta and a crisp salad and voila! An Italian Feast is born!

italian feast

Authentic Italian Pesto

Round out your summer Italian feast with some pasta and homemade basil pesto (recipe from Monica Pesoli of Cook Like An Italian)! For a dairy-free version, omit Parmesan cheese and add 2 teaspoons sweet white miso or 1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar and sea salt to taste.

Authentic Italian Pesto
 
An authentic Italian pesto, versatile and delicious. This would traditionally be used as a pasta sauce, but would also be good on bruschetta, meats, fish, or vegetables. Recipe courtesy of Monica Pesoli of "Like an Italian" cooking classes, language instruction, and Italy tours.
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups of basil leaves (no stems), tightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, Montebello brand recommended
Instructions
  1. Use all organic ingredients to the greatest extent possible. Wash basil and parsley nonetheless; de-vein basil leaves w/ largest veins.
  2. Add to a blender parsley, half the oil, garlic, nuts, cheese, and some salt if desired. Puree with lid on.
  3. Turn off blender, and add all basil, drizzling remaining oil over leaves. With blender off and using a rubber spatula, help to direct leaves under the blades by forcing them down along the sides of the blender. With the lid on, pulse the blender switch a number of times, catching leaves in the blades to puree. Continue to alternate forcing leaves down the sides of the blender towards the blades (with blender off and lid removed), and pulsing blender switch with lid on to puree leaves.
  4. Pesto is ready when leaves are evenly pureed, but mixture still has some texture (with no leafy bits). Use as pasta topping/sauce or on a multitude of other foods!

 

White Bean and Tuna Salad (Insalata di Fagioli e Tonno)

We continue “Eat Your Way Through Summer” with a couple of tasty authentic Italian recipes by Monica Pesoli, owner of Like An Italian cooking and language school in Austin, Texas. If you haven’t met Monica yet, you must change that! For more information about her cooking classes, visit her Facebook page, Cook Like An Italian!

White Bean and Tuna Salad (Insalata di Fagioli e Tonno)
 
A hearty and flavorful side dish to be served with the second course, the meat course. Recipe is courtesy of Monica Pesoli, owner of "Like An Italian" cooking and language school in Austin, Texas. Monica recommends Montebello brand all organic olive oil and Cento brand tuna. Note: you must start this recipe the day before to allow the beans to soak overnight.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Beans
  • ½ lb. dried cannellini or navy beans
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • ½ medium yellow onion
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
Salad
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 5.5-ounce can tuna in olive oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Soak beans overnight. Drain soaking water.
  2. Finely chop the onion. In a 4 quart pot, heat ghee to medium. Add onion and sauté 3-5 minutes.
  3. Two minutes before onion is translucent add garlic, oregano and drained beans. Sauté another 2 minutes.
  4. Add water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until tender (45–50 min), stirring often to prevent beans from sticking to bottom of pot.
  5. Drain beans, reserving ¼ cup of cooked liquid.
  6. Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  7. Combine vinegar mixture with beans and reserved cooked liquid; transfer to a serving bowl.
  8. Top chunks of tuna, sprinkle with parsley.