Bean and vegetable soups are 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, refueling after a workout, or 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 ingredients are cooked together in a broth.
Homemade or canned beans?
You can sub two cans of white beans for the homemade beans in this recipe, just make sure to rinse and drain them before putting in the soup. You’ll probably need to add a little extra olive oil since canned beans are generally very dry compared to homemade.
Homemade beans are truly wonderful – more digestible and flavorful than canned, but you do have to plan ahead. More detailed instructions on how to make beans from scratch are in my posts Homemade Black Beans and Macrobiotic-style Giant Peruvian Lima Beans.
I usually soak a big batch of beans every week or two, and cook them with a pressure cooker. Pressure cooking makes beans softer and sweeter, and 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.
Learn how to prep veggies with skill and ease
Once you have a few knife skills under your belt it is so easy to whip together a big pot of soup. In my online course Cook Naturally Without A Recipe you learn how to prep different vegetables in various ways, including onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, kale, sweet potato, garlic, and parsley. Check it out if you’re interested in learning more!
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 so nice to be able to just snip what you need for a recipe instead of having to buy an entire bunch at the store that might go bad before you use it up.
- 1 cup dried organic white beans (cannellini, navy, or giant white lima)
- kombu, 1” square
- spring or filtered water
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 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
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- sea salt, to taste
- Sort, rinse, and soak the beans in spring or filtered water overnight. When beans are rehydrated, discard the bean soaking water.
- 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.
- In medium-sized soup pot, sauté onion with a pinch of sea salt in olive oil until soft.
- Add carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, and rosemary, and cook a few minutes more.
- Add cooked beans and water or stock. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until flavors are blended.
- Add basil and season with more sea salt, if needed.
- Garnish with fresh parsley or other seasonal herbs and serve warm.
- Garnish with pieces of pan-fried dulse instead of parsley.
- When reheating, add a handful of baby spinach or kale.
- Make a large batch and freeze half to warm up later.
- Use chicken stock or chicken bone broth in place of the vegetable stock.
- Add 1 cup cooked shredded chicken for a heartier soup.
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.