Zesty traditional Tuscan white bean soup

Zesty traditional Tuscan white bean soup

Tangy, spicy and comforting, make this recipe your go-to for the winter.

Mon 29 Jan 2024 4:48 PM

If you are looking for a dish that is comforting and on the sophisticated side, this earthy Tuscan white bean soup is the ideal winter recipe. It is a satisfying meal in itself that is easy to prepare and pleases most tastes. Traditional recipes are making a comeback all over the world because they are tasty, generous and straightforward, as well as often being nutritious and sustainable, given they are usually local and seasonal. I’ve lived in many different places internationally and I have tended to go for traditional regional dishes. It is always exactly what my body craved in that specific context and time of year.

This traditional bean soup is a perfect example in the heart of the Tuscan winter. While there are many versions, this one combines a few extras with the main ingredients of the traditional soup. Sweet potatoes and a tangy whipped ricotta are added to the usual soffritto, cannellini beans and Tuscan black cabbage. I like to serve it with a thick slice of bread, spread with either artisanal butter or rubbed with garlic and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Zesty traditional tuscan white bean soup Ph. Marco Badiani
Ph. Marco Badiani

Zesty traditional Tuscan white bean soup

Serves 4-6
Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes + preparation

For the toppings
500g goat or sheep ricotta
Zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the soup
Olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 carrots, thinly sliced
6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 large sweet potato, cut into cubes
Dried thyme, rosemary and/or bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
Red pepper flakes
300g white cannellini beans, drained + rinsed
700ml vegetable broth
250g cavolo nero, cut into strips and hard white veins removed
Fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

Beat the ricotta, a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and lemon zest in a bowl with an electric whisk, until smooth and airy. Chill.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and the salt and cook gently over medium heat until softened. Add the carrot, celery and sweet potatoes, dried thyme and rosemary, and cook for a further 10 minutes. Prepare the vegetable stock separately. Ideally, I try to use stock without flavourings or sugar.

Add the tomato paste for richness and the peperoncino for the heat. Stir.

Pour in the vegetable broth and add the white beans. After simmering for 5 minutes, add the black cabbage and let it simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Just before the end of cooking, add a dash of balsamic vinegar to add a little zing and break the richness.

Just before serving, top the soup with a heaped tablespoon of the lemon ricotta. Sprinkle with some fresh parsley and a dash of olive oil.


Tip 1: Don’t chop the vegetables too finely as the usual soffritto. Instead, keep some texture to make a rustic soup.
Tip 2: Don’t hesitate to prepare some extra broth if you find that it has evaporated too much and want to add some more, or if you have leftovers and want to extend it the following day.

Related articles


‘Selezione Oli Extravergine’ showcases innovation in the Tuscan olive oil industry

The recent 2024 Selezione Oli Extravergine showcase held at Cinema la Compagnia di Firenze served as an opportunity to delve into various aspects of the olive oil sector, including pressing ...


A spring version of cecina

This upgraded version of the crispy Tuscan cecina chickpea pancake is the perfect dinner recipe for the spring.


The Michelangelo urban vineyard

The Fittipaldi family replants their vineyard with a Duomo view.