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Tuscan White Bean Soup with Pancetta

5 from 23 community reviews

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Make soup for dinner tonight! This Tuscan-inspired white bean soup is rustic, homey and satisfying. It’s made with a base of vegetables, fresh rosemary, broth or water, and naturally starchy cannellini beans that break down to a creamy consistency as they cook.

Serve bowls of soup garnished with cubes of crisp pancetta for an extra-meaty flavor, along with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

A spoon dipping into a serving bowl of Tuscan white bean soup that's garnished with grated cheese and chopped rosemary.
Puree some of the soup to thicken it, and serve sprinkled with crisp pancetta cubes and Parmesan cheese.

Classic and comforting, white beans are the star ingredient in some of my favorite savory soup recipes. If you enjoy soul-satisfying, one-dish meals, I urge you to try this simple, oh-so-flavorful recipe!

Cannellini beans are inexpensive, and their soft, creamy texture is always appealing. They turn up in a lot of my dinner recipes — everything from a quick, creamy white beans skillet dinner and Italian pasta and bean soup.

Ingredients in bowls for making white bean soup arranged on a surface, including cannellini beans, chopped onion, carrots and celery, fresh kale leaves, garlic, cubed pancetta and rosemary sprigs.

Ingredients in the soup

  • White beans: Cannellini beans (sometimes called “white kidney beans”) are the ultimate Italian legume. A type of white bean that originated in Tuscany, they’re plump and creamy-textured when cooked. They taste mildly nutty and are so satisfying in soups. You can use convenient canned beans or home-cooked cannellini beans to make this soup.
  • Broth: A light broth forms the flavor foundation for this soup. While you can make the soup with store-bought stock or even plain water, you’ll definitely taste the difference if you use a good homemade vegetable broth or chicken broth recipe.
  • Soup base: Cooked aromatic vegetables — or soffrito in Italian — is a basic mixture of chopped onion, carrot and celery cooked in olive oil until softened.
  • Herbs and seasonings: To amplify all the good ingredients while adding a Tuscan-style flair, I use plenty of garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and fresh rosemary.
  • Pancetta: Pancetta is a type of fully-aged, unsmoked pork belly with a tasty balance of pork fat and meat. It adds a lot of flavor to the soup and classic Amatriciana sauce, with less fat than American-style bacon. I prefer to render the pancetta in a separate pan so that people can choose to enjoy a vegetarian soup. Plus, when it’s not soaked in the cooking broth the pancetta stays nice and crisp. You can buy cubed pancetta in vacuum sealed packages. If not, ask your deli counter to slice it into a 1/2-inch-thick slab (rather than thinly-sliced) so you can cut it into plump little cubes at home.
  • Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated parmesan is what I recommend for the best tasting soup. If you happen to have a parmesan rind, you can use it to enhance the flavor of the soup as it cooks.
  • Kale: This hearty leafy green is a typical vegetable in authentic Tuscan-style soups, especially dark green lacinato kale. Curly kale is often easier to find and tastes just as delicious.

How to make Tuscan white bean soup (prep and cooking steps)

Serving and storage

  • The soup keeps refrigerated for 3-5 days and frozen for 1 month.
A spoon dipping into a serving bowl of Tuscan white bean soup that's garnished with grated cheese and chopped rosemary.

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Pancetta

Karen Tedesco
Make soup for dinner tonight! This Tuscan-inspired white bean soup is rustic, homey and satisfying. It's made with a base of vegetables, fresh rosemary, broth or water, and naturally starchy cannellini beans that break down to a creamy consistency as they cook. Serve garnished with cubes of crisp pancetta for an extra-meaty flavor, along with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Print Pin
5 from 23 community reviews
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Soup and Stew
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion, about 1 medium onion
  • ½ cup chopped carrot
  • ½ cup chopped celery, 2-3 stalks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, 2-3 cloves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, or fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 4 cups cannellini beans, cooked, or 2 15-ounce cans, drained
  • 1 Parmesan rind, optional
  • 3 cups (710 ml) vegetable broth, or chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces (110 g) pancetta, cut into cubes
  • 4 cups shredded kale
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Instructions 

  • Pour the olive oil into a Dutch oven or large soup pot (4-6 quarts). Place over medium heat and stir in the onion, carrots and celery. Cook until the vegetables are slightly softened, 3-5 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic, rosemary and red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the beans, Parmesan rind, 2½ cups of the broth and 1½ teaspoons kosher salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then adjust the heat to medium-low and partially cover the pot. Simmer the soup 15-20 minutes.
  • While the soup is cooking, place the pancetta in a small skillet and place over medium heat. Cook until the fat has rendered and the pancetta is crisp, stirring frequently. Using a spatula or slotted spoon, remove the pancetta to a plate lined with a paper towel.
  • To thicken the texture, ladle out one cup of soup and puree in a blender or food processor, then stir it back into the pot. Alternatively, use an immersion blender, pulsing for about 15 seconds to puree a small amount of the soup right in the pot.
  • Add the kale and Parmesan to the soup and heat 1-2 minutes, just until the kale turns bright green and wilts. At this point, you can add some of the remaining broth to thin the texture of the soup to your preference.
  • Serve the soup in bowls, garnished with the pancetta and additional cheese to taste.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Pancetta: Some grocery stores sell cubed pancetta in vacuum-sealed packages. If you can’t find it, instead of opting for thin-sliced pancetta ask your deli counter for a 1/2-inch-thick slab, then cut it into small chunky cubes. For those who prefer a vegetarian soup, I render the pancetta in a different pan so it can be served separately from the soup. Also when it’s not cooked in the broth, the texture of the pancetta stays nice and crisp.
  • Great Northern or navy beans may be substituted, but the texture of the soup won’t be as creamy.
  • The soup keeps refrigerated for 3-5 days and frozen for 1 month.

Nutrition

Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 622mg | Potassium: 262mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 5340IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 259mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was such a delicious soup. I Iike the idea of adding the cheese rind to the soup. It took it to a different level. I will definitely continue to make this for my family. Thank you for sharing.