5 Ingredients or Fewer

Marcella Hazan's White Bean Soup with Garlic and Parsley

April 19, 2016
31 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

How to cook a soulful bean soup in 10 minutes? As Marcella Hazan used to tell her students, "What you leave out is just as important as what you put in." Adapted slightly from The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Knopf, 1992). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 6 cups cooked cannellini or other white beans—either canned or cooked from 2 cups dried (recommended)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 1 cup homemade broth or water (or 1/3 cup canned beef stock diluted with 2/3 cup water)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Thick grilled or toasted slices of crusty bread (optional)
  1. Put the oil and chopped garlic in a soup pot and turn on the heat to medium. Cook the garlic, stirring it, until is becomes colored a very pale gold.
  2. Add the drained cooked or canned beans, a pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Cover and simmer gently for 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Take about 1/2 cup of beans from the pot and puree them through a food mill back into the pot, together with all the broth. Alternately, use a blender, loosening with a bit of the broth. Simmer for another 5 to 6 minutes, taste, and correct for salt and pepper. Swirl in the chopped parsley, and turn off the heat.
  4. Ladle over the grilled bread slices into individual soup bowls.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Colette Connors
    Colette Connors
  • Kate Runyon
    Kate Runyon
  • Donna B
    Donna B
  • Katie Gosney
    Katie Gosney
  • Debbie Michel
    Debbie Michel
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

64 Reviews

checkd February 19, 2024
Excellent. I made this from dried beans, using Rancho Gordo’s Marcella beans and following their instructions for preparing dried beans, including additional aromatics. The soup will absorb, and needs, significantly more liquid than stated in the recipe. I used high-quality chicken bone broth.
tomike April 2, 2023
I've been making this soup since I recieved my first Marcella Hazan cookbook in 1993 and to me, this is the epitome of soulful comfort food. The beauty is in its simplicity, good beans, fresh bright parsley and rich olive oil. I either eat this as is or I toss in some cooked pasta and sautéed broccoli rabe for a heartier main course. I'm making this tonight with Rancho Gordos.
Chele September 20, 2023
Thank you for introducing me to Rancho Gordo. I had no idea this company existed.
Alyssa November 19, 2022
I survive the cold months with recipes like this. So quick to whip up, so light on the wallet, and so easy to riff on. I added a squeeze of lemon juice and a grating of parm at the end and it was perfection.
Stacy October 19, 2022
This recipe was delicious and, as other reviewers have reintegrated, you must use the best quality ingredients. I used the Rancho Gordo Marcella beans (I mean, they are named after the iconic chef), olive oil from my trip to Spain, fresh garlic, and I opted for fresh rosemary from my garden since I didn’t have fresh parsley. I added extra homemade chicken stock to make it a little brothier and included a Parmesan rind too. I served it with some fresh bread rubbed with olive oil and toasted, then rubbed with a garlic clove. My family tore it up and asked for it to be made again soon.
Colette C. January 15, 2022
This did not really feel like a soup, not enough broth for me.
The flavour was wonderful. I served it over toasted bread . It felt like beans on toast though.
Didn't want to eat it that way again so I made another soup with spinach ,cherry tomatoes and these white beans. It was delicious!
ksevans13 October 5, 2020
I was so hopeful about this recipe, and made it with high-quality ingredients and exactly as instructed. Alas, we were underwhelmed. The flavors were mild and the texture pasty. We will try to rescue the rest by serving it over vegetables, thinning it out, maybe adding tomatoes or another acidic component, but I don’t think we’ll make this preparation again.
ksevans13 October 5, 2020
P.S. We cooked beans from dried. Maybe we overcooked them? Or over-blended in step 3?
Kate R. June 17, 2020
I live in Sarasota Florida and had the incredible pleasure of getting to know the amazing Marcella. Our first meeting was at a retail women’s clothing biz I managed and then I happened to have shifted career paths into the spice shop arena. When she walked through that door in all her barely five foot stature, I felt her presence as though a giant had just entered and remember my hand shaking with excitement as I carefully measured and weighed out some dry Greek oregano for a client I was assisting. I was blessed with our second meeting there which became the beginning point of a truly joyful and special friendship. She became my own special “regular”...if you can apply this label to such an iconographic character...and we spent many hours over the course of a year discussing the nuances and power of herbs and spices. She even “reprimanded” me about our mislabeling of pinoli nuts which were in reality a pine nut but not of the piñon tree...hence a lesser quality imposter. The following week, I was gifted a small container of her very own stash of the real deal. I will admit here that the cherished nuts never made it into a pesto or such though we discussed the many ways to riff on that classic. No. I still have that prized jar in a special place in my kitchen as my own little remembrance of her. Now that she has passed, I look to it daily as I cook and am fortified with her great wisdom to keep it simple. Keep it true. A mantra that goes far beyond the tiny walls of my kitchen.
Just thought to share....
Charlotte March 10, 2020
Loved this recipe! I drizzled a bit of chili crisp on top for an added kick and it was to delicious for words.
Debbie M. May 6, 2022
We used chili crisp here too when I have it. It’s so good with these beans. We also love this recipe as written.
Janet September 15, 2019
In step two, how can you simmer if you haven’t added any liquid yet?
KSDB September 15, 2019
Whether using canned or beans cooked from dried, there will be some liquid adhering to the beans. The olive oil also helps. Just simmer on low for a few minutes so the flavors meld.
Danielle September 15, 2019
You’ve added 1/2 cup of oil. Put it on your low setting.
Bella95 March 10, 2019
Love this. Just wanted to pass on a couple of tips. If you're using canned beans (dried ARE better but canned are ok and SUCH a great time saver for meals in a hurry) rinse them a couple of times before using. The garlic needs to be JUST coloured, it burns almost instantly and will be super bitter. For me the easiest way not to burn it is to heat the oil, add the garlic then add the beans immediately. Also as others have said use good quality ingredients.
B99 February 20, 2019
I made this one time and used dried beans. I think if serving with a flavorful meat, it is great as is. But I could somewhat see how some would find this “bland”, and I am not one to heavily salt food. I wasn’t sure if I should salt the water when cooking the dried beans, so I did not, to be on the safe side. But I think next time, I will salt the water. But this is a very simple and versatile dish as I would make it again,
Bella95 March 10, 2019
I recommend salting the beans when they're cooked as, so lve heard, salting them while cooking makes the skins tough.
Valerie June 22, 2020
There are many theories out there in the mist. What I have read and have proceeded to do is salt the beans while soaking. Does not make the skins tough. Add more salt when cooking if desired or salt at the end.
Smaug September 4, 2023
It's been pretty conclusively demonstrated that cooking (or soaking) beans with salt does not make them tough, and is in fact preferable.
MacGuffin April 21, 2024
Not so. I always add salt to the pre-soak water; I rinse and add salt to the cooking water as well. No tough skins.
Ali W. February 10, 2019
Can this be frozen?
Galapagos February 8, 2021
Yes. Freezes well, as do most dishes made of dried beans. I often freeze half a batch.
My favorite beans for making this are Marcella beans from Rancho Gordo.
Danielle January 19, 2019
I made this exactly as detailed, except I used dried parsley and probably slightly over cooked the garlic. This is delicious and super easy. I used water for my liquid and didn’t have to add additional seasoning after the first salt and pepper input. This is a great recipe for using a handheld blender too.

I’m not sure where the reviewers below are getting oil slicks and sludge. The oil was fully absorbed by the beans and the soup is the color of the main ingredient.
Donna B. September 23, 2018
No need to say anything negative about the chef or receipe...just don’t post! Why do people feel it is okay to be rude?

I am trying this for meatless Monday .... it sounds yummy! I am using Red Mill dried beans and homemade broth...can’t wait.
Rgranito1 September 8, 2018
This is true simplicity at its best! Take your time with this soup and add what you like!! Kale, rosemary or not. I agree with the other comment posted use the best ingredients you can find!! 😊 Enjoy
Katie G. June 29, 2018
So I did this and added cooked chicken because I didn’t have 6 cups of beans - only 4 - quite tasty, added onion powder at the end because something was missing but I liked it a lot!
Andrea D. May 13, 2018
After having read the instructions three times, I see no mention of when to add the broth (I could just be having a day full of brain glitches). I assume, after sautéing the garlic, you add the beans and broth together to simmer. Does this make sense? ☺️
Kristen M. May 13, 2018
Hi Andrea—see step 5! "together with all the broth"
Kristen M. May 13, 2018
(And by 5 I mean 3—I'm having a day of brain glitches myself.)
ik13 November 5, 2017
I made this and my family just loved it. It was so quick and perfect for a rainy afternoon. I used canned beans and rinsed them. It did come out thicker than the picture, so I add some water at the end, and we ate it with a knife and fork and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also added some chopped bacon as we had it left over from breakfast. I look forward to making this one again!
Travel February 3, 2017
This is the third Marcella Hazen recipe I have made and I have not liked any of them. Guess I am not a Marcella fan. The other two were bolognese sauce and the tomato sauce. Tossed all of them after a few tastes.
al W. February 13, 2018
Italian cooks would be using only the best ingredients, not supermarket brands sourced from China. If you want it to taste the way Marcella cooks, use GOOD quality olive oil, GOOD dried beans, FRESH herbs. Not everything has to taste the way Grandma cooked it. That is the joy of cooking.
Terry P. April 16, 2018
Can only imagine what you are doing wrong. Common sense goes a long way in the kitchen. Can you be more precise in your criticisms of Marcella's receipes?
Cindy October 11, 2018
Not helpful without specifics and support for your view.
Roberta H. March 19, 2020
Marcella Hazan is the Queen of fantastic Italian recipes. I have two of her original cookbooks, they are falling apart I have used them for over 38 years. Really surprised about your comments. Her Bolognese rocks , her Osso Bucco a legend !
Rachel E. August 26, 2021
It's just me personally, but I'm not impressed with a pasta sauce recipe that calls for 5 tablespoons butter. And I have had mixed results with the Marcella beans, although that's not a specifically Marcella Hazan recipe. I only mention this because you ask.
Ttrockwood December 21, 2016
Made this again recently with a few tweaks that really worked out great! I cooked my beans in a vegetable broth (i like the better than bullion brand for store bought) and then while the beans were cooking i simmered a parmesan rind in water to make a fantastic parmesan broth which i used as the liquid for the soup (i adjusted the salt to taste since the parm added a little too) after simmering the rind can either be discarded or become a cook's snack :) This combo added a lot more flavor to this simple easy soup and I'll definitely make it this way in the future too!
Sassy February 16, 2024
I usually cook a square of parm rind into the soup then fish it out, small dice it and drop it back in for chewy little nuggets of flavor.