Tuscan White Bean Soup

Crema di cannellini (Tuscan White Bean Soup)

In Fall, primi piatti, Soups, Toscana, Winter by Frank Fariello20 Comments

Here’s a quick and easy weeknight supper for you, Tuscan White Bean Soup: a purée of cannellini beans, seasoned with garlic and rosemary, and thinned out with water or broth to create a soup. Nothing could be simpler or more satisfying. And if you are using canned beans—which you can, why not?—the soup can be done in five minutes. There is no cream in this soup, by the way, the Italian word crema does not mean cream, as in the dairy product, but simply refers to any smooth, creamy textured purée.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (or more if you like), whole but lightly crushed
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Boiled or canned cannellini beans
  • Broth or water (or the cooking liquid if using boiled beans)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A handful of parsley, finely chopped

NB: No exact measurements for this one; use as much or as little of each ingredient as you need or feel like using. This recipe is pretty much ad lib.   

Directions

Begin by lightly sautéing your garlic and rosemary in abundant olive oil over moderately low heat. Once the garlic takes on some color, remove both the garlic and the olive oil from the pan.

Then pass your cannellini beans through a food mill into the seasoned oil. Allow the beans to insaporire for a few minutes, then add enough water, broth or cooking liquid to thin out the bean purée to the consistency of a soup. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes to let the flavors meld. About a minute before its’ done, stir in the chopped parsley.

Drizzle with raw, best-quality olive oil just before serving.

Notes on Tuscan White Bean Soup

This basic recipe is incredible flexible and versatile. Usually, it can be served with some crusty bread on the side, or top of a piece of toasted bread laid at the bottom of the plate, or topped with croutons fried in olive oil, and—as picture above—with boiled rice mixed in. Or some soup pasta instead of the rice.

The same method lends itself to just about any other bean or legume: borlotti, lentils, fagioli all’occhio (black eyed peas), chickpeas… you name it. For a more ‘refined’ taste, you substitute a soffritto of onion, or onion, carrot and celery, for the garlic, in which case don’t remove them from the pan as you would the garlic. For a bit more substance, you can also fry some cubed pancetta in the seasoned oil. Or top your crema with some sautéed shrimp or scallops, which makes for an elegant presentation fit for company.

Boiling dried beans takes some time but is very easy. If you have the time, soak the beans in water to cover them amply, either overnight or save yourself some time by bringing them to a boil and let them soak in the hot water for an hour. Pre-soaking is not strictly necessary, but it does save time and helps the beans to retain their taste and texture—although that’s not too important if you’re going to use them in a purée, of course. Then simmer them in water to cover generously, along with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of fresh sage (if you have some on hand) until tender. Season with salt a few minutes before the beans are done. The simmering liquid has lots of flavor and can be used to thin out the crema.

If using canned beans, on the other hand, make sure to rinse them off and drain in a colander. The canning liquid has stuff you don’t want to ingest and, besides, it gives a funny ‘canned’ taste to the dish. When using canned beans, it is best to use broth to give the crema some extra flavor.

When made very thick—thick enough to hold its shape—Tuscan White Bean Soup can double as a delicious topping for crostini.

Crema di cannellini (Tuscan White Bean Soup)

Rating: 51

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (or more if you like), whole but lightly crushed
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Boiled or canned cannellini beans
  • Broth or water (or the cooking liquid if using boiled beans)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A handful of parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Begin by lightly sautéing your garlic and rosemary in abundant olive oil over moderately low heat. Once the garlic takes on some color, remove both the garlic and the olive oil from the pan.
  2. Then pass your cannellini beans through a food mill into the seasoned oil. Allow the beans to insaporire for a few minutes, then add enough water, broth or cooking liquid to thin out the bean purée to the consistency of a soup. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes to let the flavors meld. About a minute before its' done, stir in the chopped parsley.
  3. Drizzle with raw, best-quality olive oil just before serving.

No exact measurements for this one; use as much or as little of each ingredient as you need or feel like using. This recipe is pretty much ad lib.

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Frank FarielloCrema di cannellini (Tuscan White Bean Soup)

Comments

  1. Celeste

    Fantastico! I just made this and it is wonderfully delicious. Thank you for sharing your family recipes! I’m half Italian and remember as a kid the great food my mom, aunt, grandmother would cook. All three passed away when I was young and I never got their recipes….but I remembered the wonderful smells and I began to search for Authentic Italian recipes. That’s when I found your blog spot and now the new website. You’re recipes have awakened my childhood memories of the wonderful meals with mia famiglia and for that I’m truely grateful! I’ve made several of your recipes and all have turned out so delicious. Grazie!

  2. Adelina

    I have made something similar to this using an Emeril Lagasse recipe, but not in the processed form. This looks great.

  3. j e t s e t WISDOM

    Frank, as always, your post is delicious, and delicate and thoughtful! I just came in from Rome and brought home some EVOO, Canellini beans and a chunk of parmigiano romano with a box of risotto , a few minutes ago. I'm cooking this up for an artist group painting at my farm domani! BRAVO e mille grazie!!! Photos to follow!!

  4. Frank

    Thanks, folks! Yes, so often simple is best. And thanks for all your great ideas for variations–they are, indeed, endless!

  5. Drick

    like this one a whole lots – time for good soups and why not a creamed bean one – nice with the flavor additions and suggestions

  6. mangiabella

    frank this is simply wonderful, and looks so creamy and comforting. I love cannellini beans and will definitely try this. Who wouldn't love to curl up with a great book on the chaise lounge with a bowl of this…..lovely post as ALWAYS

  7. Ruby

    Such brilliant simplicity, and perfect for this time of year. Funny you mentioned chickpeas at the end because I was thinking all along that I'd try it with them – I have a cupboardful!

  8. Janis

    Oh man oh man this really got to me. I love cannellini beans almost as much as I love Kimchi. Now I am torn what to make for my “Me” dinner while Dr. Food is at a business dinner. Crema di cannellini or Kimchi fried rice. Hey, maybe I will make “International night” and have both.

  9. Dan

    I like it how you present variations on every dish. For this one, instead of thinning it with water or broth, you could add some tomato juice, or passata, then let it reduce for a while. Of course, if you do that, you don't mash the beans. Then, if you top it with big bunch of caramelized onions and serve with sauerkraut on the side, you have a meal fit for a king. This would be a typical romanian dish.

  10. Turkey's For Life

    Just perfect. I always get excited about simple soups like this. It looks so comforting! Borlotti beans are just coming to the end of their season at the moment so I'm going to buy some and use some of them to try this soup. I'll use the rest to eat with some sucuk (a Turkish sausage similar to pepperoni).

    Love this blog by the way.

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