Make Ahead

White Bean Soup

December 27, 2012
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This is a simple, tomatoey bean soup that will serve you well all week long. —Merrill Stubbs

  • Serves 6
  • 1 1/2 cups small white beans, rinsed
  • Salt
  • 6 cups chicken stock (homemade or low sodium), vegetable stock or water
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 small sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 large sage leaves
  • 26 ounces chopped tomatoes (I use Pomi), with their juices
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • Grated parmesan to taste
In This Recipe
  1. Put the beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Add a large pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil and boil hard for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the beans soak for at least an hour, and up to 4 hours.
  2. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add the chicken stock or water, garlic, herbs and a couple pinches of salt. Bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer gently, uncovered, until the beans are tender (30 to 60 minutes more), stirring occasionally. If the soup seems too thick at any point, just add a little water.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the herb sprigs and stir in the olive oil and some grated parmesan just before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • helicopterina
  • juliunruly
  • Trena Heinrich
    Trena Heinrich
  • Sara Dougherty
    Sara Dougherty
  • Dina Moore-Tzouris
    Dina Moore-Tzouris

    34 Reviews

    helicopterina October 19, 2018
    Thanks, Merrill! Just made this and it was a delicious framework. Roman beans instead of small whites were in the cupboard. No fresh herbs on hand save some parsley, so used that instead of sage and then subbed in a sprinkle each of dried thyme and rosemary. And a dollop of some mildly spicy harissa paste. Garnished with some fried chorizo medallions on top with some sliced scallions that were heated a bit in the chorizo oil. y Thumbs-up from spouse who usually complains if I don't cook beans with some sort of protein - yay!
    Linda D. June 11, 2018
    Thank you Merrill for a savory, simple and satisfying bean soup. After reading Juliunruly's comment about adding the parmesan rind, I did likewise. That was first for me. Glad I have more in the freezer for the next time.
    juliunruly January 10, 2016
    This is a little embarrassing to admit, but I had never cooked with dried beans before making this soup last night. Thanks for the easy introduction! The soup was delicious. I added a parmesan rind, and doused it in finely grated parmesan before serving. I might try adding a little pancetta next time; pasta would be great, too!
    Author Comment
    Merrill S. January 10, 2016
    So glad you liked it! Pancetta would be a great addition.
    Trena H. July 17, 2015
    My husband and I really enjoyed this soup, so much so that after only trying it last week I'm making it again.
    Sofia June 9, 2015
    Should I remove the pot from heat while the beans soak? Sorry if this is obvious, but I've never really cooked before...
    Author Comment
    Merrill S. June 9, 2015
    Yes, you should turn off the heat/flame, but you don't need to move the pot off the burner.
    Sofia June 11, 2015
    Thank you for your quick reply!
    Sara D. February 21, 2015
    How can I adapt this for the slow cooker?
    Dina M. February 2, 2015
    I only had canned beans, and it is snowing like crazy here, so canned had to be. I added ¾ cups of wagon wheel shaped pasta, keeping the broth amount the same, and 2 handfuls of chopped baby spinach. This soup is infinitely adaptable.
    Peony December 20, 2014
    I made this with canned beans and added onion, spinach, and potato and cut the stock by two cups. Delicious! My husband adds a big spoon of sour cream to his.
    radovanovic.rade December 8, 2014
    The most traditional dish in the Balkans. Especially in Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia. We make it both ways with or without meat. When it is with meat it is with smoked meat like pork ribs, pork sausage, knee, lamb smoked meat, rarely with beef and turkey. We rarely use rosemary, sage or thyme in this dish but rather the smoked bay leaf. I never heard somebody using the broth but who knows. Useful tip! Put some fresh mint leaves before the tomato to avoid stomac bloating that beans often give. You wil hardly feel the taste of it. We often like it hot (pepper, dried hot paprika, etc.).
    whmcdevitt December 7, 2014
    it gives water as an alternative!
    Liz C. December 7, 2014
    If this is part of your meatless Monday series, why isn't vegetable stock being used instead of chicken?!!
    Author Comment
    Merrill S. December 7, 2014
    You could also use vegetable stock, which I will add to the recipe as another option.
    Kate M. November 18, 2014
    Why are dried beans preferred for this recipe rather than canned beans?
    whmcdevitt July 25, 2014
    can i make a suggestion?? i don't understand why people make a comment without first reading them. i'm shocked by some of them. an example is "why is there fish or a leech or something awful in this picture.......come on. did you really think thats what was in the beautiful bowl of soup. my god!!
    Lauren May 25, 2014
    How would you modify this for canned beans?
    Author Comment
    Merrill S. May 26, 2014
    I think you'll have much better results if you used dried beans, but if you only have canned you'll only need to cook the soup for a few minutes (no more than 10), and you can add the other ingredients to the beans all at once.
    i only have dried beans on hand. Can you help me modify the recipe? thanks :)
    Author Comment
    Merrill S. May 6, 2014
    The recipe calls for dried beans, so no modifications are necessary!
    hannah November 20, 2013
    A wonderful intersection of healthy, easy, and delicious -- this soup simply rocks!
    cschaefer July 10, 2013
    I made this for my 7 month old daughter a few months ago. From her first taste to the last, and every time I fed this to her, she ate with animation and excitement. I could hardly put the beans in her mouth fast enough. I pushed the beans easily through a sifter and was able to freeze about 21 separate ice cube-sized servings for her future meals. Night after night these frozen reserves were my go-to base for her meals and she never grew tired of it. I just picked up another round of ingredients from our market & will be making it again this week. Thank you Merrill and I love your “Cooking for Clara” feature.
    Peggy S. January 17, 2013
    WHY is there a fish, or a leech, or something AWFUL in this picture?
    Author Comment
    Merrill S. January 31, 2013
    It's a sage leaf!
    amc100 March 3, 2013
    I thought it was a mussel!
    Peggy S. July 10, 2013
    I am glad to hear that it's a bay leaf because we couldn't figure out what it was. It is very good soup. :)
    emery November 18, 2013
    How old are you ??
    amy.damoulakis January 8, 2013
    You wouldn't happen to have the nutritional information and serving size would you? I'm figuring out Weight Watcher points :-)
    Author Comment
    Merrill S. January 31, 2013
    So sorry, I don't!
    Carrie R. January 4, 2013
    So you don't have to soak the beans overnight?
    Author Comment
    Merrill S. January 4, 2013
    Nope! This method works just as well.