I had a version of this Tuscan Cannellini bean soup (called ribollita) when I used to live in Italy (when we were traveling through Tuscany). I was hooked! This version is adapted from a recipe I learned in Italy, but is both vegan and gluten-free. Creamy white beans with delicious and hearty kale - what's not to love?
This post contains helpful tips and tricks! If you're in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" below!
💭 Why you'll love this Tuscan white bean soup
- Hearty and healthy on a budget. The combination of kale and white beans means this soup is packed with nutrients, protein, and fiber. Plus, the ingredients are typically cheap!
- Great make-ahead recipe that comes together in 30 minutes. When kale is in season, this is one of my go-to weeknight recipes! I love making a large batch as part of meal prep and having this all week long.
- Vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free. This simple Tuscan cannellini bean soup recipe modifies the traditional Ribollita recipe to cater to a wide range of dietary restrictions!
📋 Ingredients and Notes
To make this cannellini bean soup, you'll need extra virgin olive oil, shallots, celery, carrots, garlic, cannellini beans, red pepper flakes, oregano, kale, and vegetable broth.
Notes and Variations
- Substitute kale: If you're in need of a quick and easy replacement for kale, Swiss chard is an ideal solution.
- Canned beans vs. dry beans. If using dried beans, soak them overnight. This reduces cooking time and ensures a more even texture when finished. Conversely, if you are using canned beans, all you need to do is rinse them and set them aside before adding them to the dish.
- Substitute white cannellini beans. Traditionally, this is a white bean soup and I like using cannellini beans, but you can also use great Northern beans, navy beans, or any other beans of your choice!
- Adjust seasoning: Add some heat with a pinch of cayenne pepper or red chili flakes! You can also swap out the crushed red pepper flakes and oregano with Italian seasoning, or use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. You can also add Mediterranean herbs like fresh rosemary or sage to take it up a notch!
- Adjust creaminess: For a creamier soup, you can either use an immersion blender to blend some of the beans or add some coconut milk towards the end of cooking time.
- Make it heartier: If you're in the mood to make this even heartier, add a slice of toasted sourdough or other crusty bread! Gluten-free Ezekiel bread also works well in the recipe.
How to pick the best kale
Kale really makes this Tuscan bean soup come to life. It adds texture, nutrition and flavor, so it's important to pick the right type of kale for this recipe.
You can use either Tuscan kale or Lacinato kale in this recipe. Lacinato kale is darker in color with flat leaves. Its flavor is deeper and richer than Tuscan kale and its texture is chewier when cooked. Tuscan kale, has a slightly sweeter and more delicate flavor than other types of kale. Though this is a Tuscan bean soup, I prefer Lacinato or "dinosaur" kale, as it holds up well during cooking.
I am fortunate to have a constant supply of kale from my backyard these days. However, it's a fun green to pick up at the grocery store. Just make sure to follow these tips.
- Look for darker green leaves with curly edges and a slightly chewy texture when selecting your kale.
- Make sure the stalks are long and thin (not wider than a finger)
- Ensure there are no wilted leaves (they should have a crunchy texture) and make sure there's no yellowing either.
- Be sure to remove any tough stems from the leaves before adding them to your soup!
📖 Make the Best Tuscan White Bean Soup!
Start by rinsing and chopping the kale. Rinse the kale under running water thoroughly. Cut them into 1-inch wide pieces. Chop the stem finer since they're tougher. Set them aside separately.
Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and set aside. Meanwhile, finely chop up the shallots, carrots, and celery for a mirepoix.
Prepare the aromatics. In a large Dutch oven or pot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add shallots, carrots, celery, and chard stalks and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and sauté for another 3 minutes. Then, add minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add broth, water, and bouquet garni on medium-high heat. I love using homemade veggie broth (made with parmesan rind) for this, but you can use any stock or broth of choice. Add a pinch more salt, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes. Allow this to come to a boil.
Then reduce the heat, add beans, and cook covered, for 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in kale, and season as needed. Finally, add kale leaves and let them wilt, covered, for 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the cannellini beans, give it a good stir, and adjust the seasoning!
Your Tuscan cannellini bean soup is ready to be served!
If you're not vegan, you can add some freshly grated vegetarian parmesan cheese for an extra flavor boost. I also typically garnish with fresh herbs!
👩🏽🍳 Tips to Make the Best Vegan White Bean Soup
- Start with a flavorful vegetable broth. Use homemade or store-bought stock, depending on your preference, but the broth is a critical component of this soup, so make sure you pick one you love!
- Simmer on low heat for best results, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Add kale towards the end of cooking. This ensures maximum tenderness and freshness.
- If including other vegetables, make sure to brown them before adding them to the soup to enhance their flavor. For instance, adding fresh tomatoes can add body to the soup, but make sure to cook out the raw flavor first.
- Add freshly chopped herbs just before serving for a delicious burst of flavor! You can also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a bit of acid.
👩🏽🍳 Troubleshooting FAQs
My favorite way, however, is to mash up half a cup of beans. Creamy texture, thick consistency - check! If you consume dairy, you can add a bit of heavy cream to create a more hearty soup. You can also add coconut cream instead if you're vegan.
Yes, this soup works with other types of beans (e.g., red, black or pinto beans) or chickpeas! You can also add some pasta to make it extra hearty.
Absolutely! I add Roma tomatoes in the summer or squash in the winter. Basil, sage, and dill also go really well with the flavor profiles and can be used in the bouquet garni.
Cannellini beans are called white kidney beans or Italian kidney beans sometimes, but they are typically larger, have a traditional kidney bean shape, and a nuttier flavor. There are many other types of white beans including great Northern beans, Navy beans, and others that will work well in this recipe.
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
This recipe saves well in the fridge for a couple of days. But it's also an excellent make-ahead dish. You can also freeze this soup in individually portioned containers and use them for several weeks. Speaking of freezing, if you have a bunch of frozen vegetables and want to make a hearty soup, check out this frozen vegetable soup!
Serve this delicious soup with:
- Crusty bread or biscuits. I love making a simple Dutch oven quick bread or these cheddar cheese biscuits as a savory complement to this soup.
- Refreshing side salad: Simpler the better here, like this refreshing lemon garlic kale salad or this light and crunchy cabbage slaw.
- Any and all vegetables: You can serve this soup with any roasted vegetables or even a roasted vegetable salad. My favorites are air fryer Brussels sprouts, roasted beet salad with goat cheese, or this simple microwave asparagus.
If you love this vegan Tuscan white bean soup, check out some of my favorite soup recipes:
- Vegan cabbage soup
- Instant Pot tomato soup
- Creamy butternut squash soup
- Spicy pumpkin soup
- Hearty pinto bean soup
Tuscan Soup with Beans
- 1 cup kale, substitute Swiss chard
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 shallots, medium sized, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 carrots, medium sized, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided, adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, adjust to spice tolerance
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano powder , substitute with Italian seasoning
- 2 cans cannellini beans, 14.5 oz each, low-sodium preferred
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, adjust to taste
For bouquet garni
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs parsley
- Rinse the kale under running water thoroughly. Then, cut the leaves into into 1 inch wide pieces. Chop the stem finer (typically ¼" pieces) since they're tougher to cook. Set them aside separately.
- Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and set aside.
- Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot on medium heat. Add the diced shallots, carrots, celery and the chopped-up chard stalks and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add one teaspoon of salt and sauté for another 3 minutes. Then, add minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Tie a bay leaf with two sprigs each of parsley and thyme to make a bouquet garni.
- Add three cups of broth, two cups of water, and the bouquet garni to the Dutch oven. Then, add another teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and half a teaspoon of dried oregano. Allow this to come to a boil. Then reduce the heat, add two cans of beans, and cook covered, for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Finally, add kale and let them wilt, covered, for 2-3 minutes. Add half a teaspoon of fresh black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve hot!
- You can add more broth or water if you want the soup to have more liquid. Or to make it creamier, you can smash up half a can of the cannellini beans to add more body to the soup!
- You can add more seasoning and adjust to your taste as desired.
- You can add vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast to give it more umami.