White Bean Soup

About this recipe

This is the way many restaurants make their bean soup. Measure out 1 lb. (2 cups) dried white beans (navy, Great Northern, or Cannellini) and soak overnight in lots of cold water. In the morning, rinse, pick out the ugly ones, and gently boil in fresh water for whatever the package says (until beans start to crack). Then rinse again and use as described below.


Place a large soup pot on the stove; turn heat to just under medium and fry:

  • 3 tbsp. olive oil,
  • 3 carrots (diced),
  • 3 stalks celery (diced),
  • 1 large cooking onion (diced),
  • 1-2 cups Italian capicollo or regular ham (diced small),
  • 1 tbsp. salt, 1 tsp. basil, and ¾-1 tsp. chili pepper.

Sauté everything together. When the onion is tender, add:

  • 1 cup white wine,
  • your 1 lb. rehydrated beans (rinsed, gently boiled, and then rinsed again … remember?).

Cover and let wine absorb into everything for 10 minutes. Then remove lid and cook another few minutes until the wine has almost evaporated.

When everybody looks happy, add:

  • 1 (28 oz.) can plum tomatoes (blended),
  • 6 cups chicken stock (from a tetra pack or use bouillon),
  • 4-5 bay leaves.

Cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes. When the vegetables are tender, it’s ready. Serve with Parmesan cheese (but you don’t have to).


  • If you have a ham bone sitting around, throw in it.
  • You can skip the dried beans and just use 2 (19 oz.) cans.
  • Add a little olive oil before serving and you have Tuscan bean soup.
  • Do a little dance before serving and you have the Greek soup fasolada.
  • You can buy chicken stock in 900 ml (4 cup) tetra packs (just like fruit juice).
  • Because there are so many beans, you don’t need to add a starch like potatoes, rice, or barley.
    You have to taste for salt. The recipe says 1 tbsp. since we're using bought chicken stock, which is usually salted. If using unsalted, you may need more. In either case, taste for it.

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