Italian White Bean Soup

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Italian White Bean Soup

When I first started cooking, I followed recipes to a T…which is only natural when you start to learn to cook, since it’s hard to know what changing an ingredient might do to the recipe!  As we’ve tried more and more recipes, I’ve gradually started to understand how to create my own. Now there’s nothing I love more than trying to come up with a way to use the ingredients I happen to have on hand or see at my local market!

This soup was inspired by some greens from a local food delivery, combined with the memory of a soup made by a good friend a while back. It turned out so delicious that we had to make promptly it again just to convince ourselves that it was actually THAT good.

And true to form, I pulled out the superlatives (“best soup…ever!”). But honestly – this was delicious. To me it tasted like liquid pizza, which was probably due to the San Marzano tomatoes (canned tomatoes grown in Italy – they really make the recipe! They’re available in many supermarkets). The fennel is also essential to this recipe – we haven’t cooked with it often, but we loved the subtle hearty flavor it gave.

And the best part – it only takes about 30 minutes to make!  Give it a try and splurge with a little pecorino cheese on top.


Italian White Bean Soup

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Yield: 6 to 8


Smoked paprika (pimentón) brings an earthiness to the dish; it is worth purchasing for added flavor.


  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 2 bunches collard greens or other dark leafy greens (kale, chard, or mustard greens)
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes (San Marzano, if possible)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or canned broth)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pecorino cheese to garnish (optional)


  1. Chop the fennel bulb (reserve some sprigs for a garnish). Wash the greens, remove the stems, and chop the leaves roughly. Drain and rinse 2 cans cannellini beans.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat, then sauté the fennel for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and simmer for 8 minutes.
  4. Add 4 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups water and cannellini beans. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.
  6. Add the greens and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with grated Pecorino cheese and fennel sprigs.


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  • Reply
    March 10, 2011 at 10:25 am

    That look so fresh soup and thaks for share your recipe, wanna be try it.


  • Reply
    March 10, 2011 at 11:13 am

    This photograph is just so beautiful. Makes me want to dig right in!

  • Reply
    March 10, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Mmmmmm.. this looks so good, I have to make it!

  • Reply
    March 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Looks so healthy and delicious !

  • Reply
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table
    March 11, 2011 at 1:04 am

    This looks amazing! SO glad I found you blog. Love the addition of fennel and the soy sauce suggestion. San Marzanos are def the best. Liquid pizza, indeed!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Lang
    March 12, 2011 at 1:19 am

    I made your soup tonight!! So simple and divine. And yes, the San Marzano tomatoes are key.

    I want to make your tamale pie next. Keep up the great recipes!

    • Reply
      March 12, 2011 at 5:33 pm

      So glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for trying it :)

  • Reply
    March 12, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Love it!

  • Reply
    March 12, 2011 at 11:33 am

    This looks gorgeous. Super nutritious to boot! :)

  • Reply
    March 14, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I loved this soup. It was very delicious and healthy. I didn’t alter the receipe other than halving it as I have a small family, and it turned out great! Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 17, 2011 at 12:55 am

    What a delicious soup! After a week of cooking so-so recipes (none of which were from this site), your soup made my night. Thanks for sharing! Your blog is a slam-dunk source for nutritious veggie meals (and especially soups).

  • Reply
    March 17, 2011 at 3:53 am

    L’hai preparata molto bene, brava ♥ ciao

  • Reply
    March 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    This sounds absolutely wonderful! It’s actually cold here in San Diego today, I can’t think of anything better to warm up with, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Sarah A.
    January 12, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks for the recipe, I have made this a couple of times and have enjoyed it every time! Last time, I added balsamic vinegar, garlic, onions, and celery and it was absolutely delicious… As someone just learning how to cook, I really appreciate that you guys have been offering up healthy, straight forward recipes, I’ve really enjoyed your blog.

  • Reply
    Kathy A.
    February 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    Made this soup tonight and it was delicious. A nice keeper in the recipe folder. Didn’t use the cheese because it is not vegetarian due to the animal rennet. But loved the soup. Thank you!!!!

  • Reply
    Eddie Aitken
    March 12, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Made this over the weekend for a Godfather marathon, everyone was supposed to bring an Italian dish, it was gone by the first credits rolled!

    • Reply
      March 13, 2012 at 7:49 am

      Awesome! Any other creative recipes for the party?

  • Reply
    January 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Can’t wait to try this tonight!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    This is really good! Thank you.

  • Reply
    September 22, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I made this recipe the other night and my family just absolutely loved it. My one-year old can be a bit of a picky eater and I was a little hesitant to give her some due to the red pepper flakes, but she ate it all up! And for those of y’all in the Tennessee region (especially new moms), I’ve been using Carrot Krate ever since Avie was born and have not been disappointed. Fresh, organic food delivered right to my front door!

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