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!

Macrobiotic-Style Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

The macrobiotic way of making beans involves washing, sorting, and soaking dry beans, cooking slowly with kombu until soft, then seasoning with sea salt and sauteed vegetables (if desired) and simmering a while longer. These steps ensure that your beans will be soft, flavorful, and digestible. Once you master this technique, you can make any kind of bean from scratch. Just vary your seasonings depending on the bean. For example, try pinto beans with garlic, onion, and cilantro, garbanzo beans with garlic and parsley, or black-eyed peas with bay leaf, onion, celery, and carrot.

Macrobiotic-Style Giant Peruvian Lima Beans
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Bean Dish
Cuisine: Macrobiotic
Serves: 6 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 cups giant Peruvian lima beans
  • spring or filtered water
  • 2 inch piece kombu
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon red bell pepper, finely chopped (optional)
  • zest of ½ lemon (optional)
Instructions
  1. Sort through beans, 1 cup at a time on a large plate, Discard any pebbles, broken beans, or other debris. Rinse beans and drain into a colander.
  2. Place rinsed beans in a large bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of spring or filtered water. Let soak for 6-12 hours (or overnight).
  3. Drain water from soaked beans and place in heavy-bottomed pot with enough water to cover beans by 1-2 inches.
  4. Bring beans to a boil. Let simmer uncovered for about 10-15 minutes and skimming foam that comes to the surface with a fine mesh skimmer.
  5. Add kombu and garlic, turn heat to low, and put lid on pot. Leave lid cracked a little so that the pot does not boil over. Periodically check the water level to make sure beans do not cook dry. More water should be added as needed to keep water just above the level of the beans.
  6. Cook beans for about 60-90 minutes, or until soft throughout.
  7. Add sea salt and simmer another 10 minutes.
  8. Serve in a bowl garnished with parsley, red bell pepper, and lemon zest, if desired.
Variations
  1. Add sautéed onion to the beans during the last 30 minutes or so of cooking.
  2. Pressure cook beans for creamier consistency.
Notes
  1. Serve with corn polenta and homemade pesto.

 

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.