Make Ahead

Marilyn's White Bean and Tomato Soup

December 24, 2013
0 Ratings
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

This is one of my grandmother's signature recipes, and a staple of our holiday meals growing up. I can picture her standing at the stove, with a stained apron tied over her lavender sweat suit, wearing a pair of bedroom slippers at least as old as I am, stirring an enormous pot of beans and tomatoes. What really makes this special are the finishing touches: each bowl gets topped with a spoonful of cooked orzo pasta and a drizzle of good olive oil. It's healthy comfort food at its finest. —ieatthepeach

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound dried white beans (navy, cannellini, or Great Northern beans)
  • 2 quarts water, plus more for soaking the beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces (about 1/2 cup) orzo pasta
  1. Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water, or do a quick soak: put them in a pot with lots of water, bring to boil, turn off the heat and let sit, covered, for an hour. Once the beans are soaked, drain and rinse them well.
  2. In a large pot, combine beans, 2 quarts water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and let bubble vigorously for a few minutes, then skim off any foam that comes to the top. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the beans are just barely tender.
  3. While the beans simmer, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, and a pinch of salt, and sweat for 8-10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for another 1-2 minutes, just until the onions start to turn golden. Add tomatoes and bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture coalesces and looks saucy.
  4. Add the tomato mixture to the bean pot. Cover and simmer for another 1 hour, or until the beans are completely tender (start checking them after about 20 minutes).
  5. While the soup simmers, cook the orzo in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  6. When the beans are tender, stir in parsley, and season the soup with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls, and top each bowl with a spoonful of orzo and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm. Leftover soup (minus the orzo and oil) will keep, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rivka
  • aargersi
  • healthierkitchen
  • ieatthepeach

11 Reviews

Rivka December 29, 2013
Fantastic. Even better on day 2.
If I weren't serving vegetarians, I might add an anchovy or two to give the soup a bit more depth, but it doesn't need them. Into the rotation this goes.
ieatthepeach December 31, 2013
Ooh, I like that idea! I wonder if you could accomplish the same thing with a little bit of soy sauce.
aargersi December 29, 2013
Yum. Making this.
Tania -. December 28, 2013
Your timing is perfect! We are getting ANOTHER snow storm here in Maine tomorrow, and now I know what to pick up at the store. Thanks, you are a peach.
ieatthepeach December 29, 2013
Ah, yes! Not many things better in a snowstorm than curling up indoors with a pot of beans on the stove. I hope you like it!
healthierkitchen December 26, 2013
Tasty soup! I particularly love your description of your grandmother. I can see her in her lavender sweat suit!!
ieatthepeach December 26, 2013
With embroidered flowers on the shoulders, no less!
Rivka December 26, 2013
Riffing on this for a dinner party this Friday. Looks like the perfect thing for a winter's day. Thanks for sharing!
ieatthepeach December 26, 2013
Ooh, I hope you and your guests love it! Please come back and share if you have any tweaks that worked well.
Muse December 25, 2013
This soup sure sounds good on a cold Winter's day! Can't wait to get the ingredients and make a pot. Thank you for sharing your recipe and Merry Christmas to you and your family. Peace, Light and Love.
ieatthepeach December 26, 2013
A belated Merry Christmas to you and yours! I hope you love the soup as much as I do.