Tuscan White Bean Soup

White Bean Soup With Swiss Chard

I love days like today. Blue sky, crisp, cool early fall days where the air feels clean (even in NYC) and you need a scarf to stay warm. Sweater-and-boots weather, as my friend Chrissy says. Not cold yet, just cool enough to make me crave a hot cup of cider or a bowl of soup. In fact, on days like this, soup is exactly what I’m craving. I love to have a big pot simmering on the stove, letting its delicious aromas fill the apartment. My go-to recipe is Tuscan White Bean Soup. I have been making this soup for years, always experimenting with different types of greens according to my mood (or what’s in the fridge). Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens…they’re all fantastic in this recipe.

I love Tuscan White Bean Soup for so many reasons. First of all, in the spirit of my late blog the Recession Cookbook, it’s super affordable to make, and contains a bunch of ingredients that are already in my pantry (cannellini beans, chicken broth, garlic, onion) and fridge (herbs, carrots, celery, greens, Parmesan). Second, it’s extremely versatile. The prosciutto can be substituted for bacon–or eliminated altogether if you want to make the soup vegan (in that case take out the Parm and substitute the chicken broth for veggie broth). Also, as I mentioned above, the Swiss chard can be swapped out for any dark leafy green.

Third, it’s chock full of vegetables and I always feel quite virtuous eating something with so much fiber (and so little fat!). And last, but not least, it freezes really well. If you are just cooking for two you’ll have tons of leftovers: freeze half of the batch for another cold night.

I made a big pot of this soup on Monday and I’ve got one last bowl to enjoy for lunch today (an added bonus: the flavors actually improve after a few days in the fridge). If only I could convince my husband Brandon to embrace the concept of soup. I could eat a different soup every day, but he, tragically, has an aversion to hot liquids. Making a pot of soup for one, however, is a bit silly–so if anyone wants to drop by for a bowl, let me know!


Serves 6 to 8

1 bunch Swiss chard (or other dark leafy green such as kale)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 slices finely chopped prosciutto
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (divided)
1 tablespoon thyme leaves (divided)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
3 cans white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
1 32-ounce box low-sodium chicken broth (about 4 cups)
1 Parmesan rind
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Splash of balsamic vinegar (about 1 teaspoon)

Cut off the tough ends of the chard and rinse the greens thoroughly. Shake or pat dry and tear into bite-size pieces. Set aside.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Saute the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic for 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent, stirring often. Add the prosciutto, HALF the herbs, the red pepper flakes (if you choose), and bay leaf and saute for another 3 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the beans and saute for another minute or two. Pour in the chicken broth, toss in the Parmesan rind, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the Swiss chard and cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the greens have wilted. Season with salt, pepper, the other half of the herbs, and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Remove the Parmesan rind before serving (if you can find it!).

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and warm crusty bread.

TIP: When I am running short on time, I will sometimes buy the pre-cut “Mirepoix” blend of onion, celery, and carrot at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. You can find it in the produce section. This seems like cheating, but it really does save time in a pinch!

TIP: Another time-saving tip: substitute chard or kale for a bag of baby spinach leaves.

TIP: This soup gets thicker the longer it sits, so when reheating leftovers I always add some water to thin it out a bit.

  • Becca

    Ha, we must be psychic! At the hint of sweater-weather, I made a big pot of white bean soup on Monday too. This time I used sweet potato greens (and sweet potatoes) and turkey sausage. I love fall cooking. Yum.

  • Anna Watson

    No way! That's really funny! I love making a big pot of soup when the weather gets cool, and this recipe is so versatile. I'll have to try it with sweet potatoes and sausage next time!

  • food-alovestory.com

    Thanks for the permission to use canned beans. That means I still have time to make this for lunch. Yum!

    Congratulations on your Gourmet.com shout-out!

  • Anna Watson Carl

    Thanks! Yes, the canned beans are super easy and honestly taste just as good (in my humble opinion!). Enjoy!

  • food-alovestory.com

    Thank you! I reposted on my blog with, of course, a link to The Yellow Table. It is so delicious, I just had to share. Please check to be sure it meets your approval ;)

  • ClubFerndale

    Absolutely fantastic, warming soup for a chilly Autumn day…more like a stew, really. I skipped the bacon and balsamic, but added toasted baguette slices scrubbed with garlic in the bottom of the bowl, then ladled the soup over top with a schprinkle of romano. mmmmmmmmmmmm……comfort food at its best, and healthy too.

  • Pingback: My Favorite Fall Comfort Foods | The Yellow Table

  • Lisa Waller

    Anna! You’ve done it again. Such yummy soup. Nothing you make is anything less than delicious. Very impressed, girl.

    • annabwatson

      Thanks Lisa!! So glad you liked it!! xo

  • nina

    I made this for the first stove cook soup, and oh goodness, amazing. The colors are beautiful and my 3 year old is eating healthy without a word!!

    • annawatsoncarl

      That is so great to hear! Thanks so much, and glad your 3-year-old like it :) High praise, indeed!

  • Pingback: Anna Watson Carl « The People I Like

My name is Anna Watson Carl. In a word, I love food, I love France, and I love throwing dinner parties. Over the years, I've worked as a personal chef, taught cooking classes, edited cookbooks, written for magazines, tested and styled recipes, and traveled whenever opportunity has arisen. But at heart, there's nothing I love more than sharing a meal with friends around the yellow table.

For me, cooking has always been a way of life. As a (mildly precocious) ten-year old, I planned and prepared a four-course Valentine's dinner for my parents, birthing a lifelong passion for dinner parties. That was just the beginning. I've been cooking ever since, whipping up souffles at a chateau in Burgundy, searing filet mignon for a wealthy client's dog (bizarre, but true), butchering ducks for confit de canard in Paris, baking the night shift in Nashville, and bathing the floor of my NYC apartment in turkey brine...the story continues.


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