This Tuscan white bean soup is a healthy, vegan, Mediterranean recipe full of flavor. Just like this red lentil and pumpkin soup with coconut milk, it is the perfect comfort food for every time you need something cozy and delicious.
Recipes like this Tuscan white bean soup are the basis of the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is a healthy eating plan consisting of many plant-based recipes, fish and seafood from the Mediterranean Sea, and small amounts of meat. Oh, and abundant olive oil!
Beans are a very important part of this diet and many generations have grown eating beans and legumes as a source of plant based protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber.
As I said above, beans have raised many generations, simply because they are really cheap and an almost complete meal. They contain complex carbohydrates to give you energy throughout the day, a lot of protein for healthy muscles and they’re low in fat. That’s the reason they’re very popular until today.
How do you cook dried white beans?
If you have a pressure cooker, this is an excellent way to achieve tender beans in short amount of time. But since many people don't have one in their homes and because slow cooking in a pot is many times tastier, I prefer cooking them the traditional way.
So, there are 3 basic steps you have to remember:
- First, soak the dried beans overnight in plenty of water. At this point you can also add some table salt to the water, but make sure you rinse the beans very well afterwards.
- The next day, cook the beans by slowly simmering them in a pot filled with fresh water until tender (if they start to foam you can change the water or skim the foam with a slotted spatula). A slow simmer will ensure that they'll keep their shape better.
- When the beans are tender, add the salt, the vegetables, and the rest of the ingredients according to your recipe.
How long do beans take to cook?
Depending on their age, size, and variety, beans can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours to cook through.
In Italy there are no canned beans. I mean, you can buy them from a supermarket if you want to, but nobody does. Everyone I know uses dried beans. That’s the cheapest way, and that’s what they did in the past.
What's the most common type of white beans?
Probably, the most common type of white beans are Canellini, but you can also use Navy beans or Great Northern beans.
Cannellinis are the largest and have a nutty, earthy flavor and tender flesh. Great Northern are medium-sized with mild flavor and firm flesh, while Navy beans are small, oval-shaped, and quick-cooking.
How do I stop bloating after eating beans?
Some people complain that beans cause bloating mostly because of their high fiber content. This is especially true for people who are not used to eating a lot of fiber.
To fight bloating, you should ad beans slowly into your diet and remember that the more often you eat them the more your body “adjusts” to them. Also, you should boil them for 10 minutes, discard the water and add fresh hot water in the pot. Some say that adding some ground mustard seeds during cooking, will also help.
Some notes/tips for perfectly cooked beans:
- Soak them overnight in a large bowl with salted water. Rinse well before cooking.
- Slowly simmer them in soft water (low in minerals) and don't add any salt until they're soft. In some places they even use rain water to cook them!
- Don't use very old beans (older than a year).
Tuscan White Bean Soup Recipe
- 1 pound dried white beans, cannellini, or the variety you prefer, soaked overnight
- 1 onion, thinly chopped
- 1 carrot, thinly chopped
- ½ cup celery, thinly chopped (or parsley)
- 1 clove garlic, crashed (or minced for stronger flavor)
- 2 tablespoons thick tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube (or 1 tablespoon powdered - you can also use chicken for not vegans)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Some red pepper flakes for serving
- From the previous night, rinse the beans and place them in a pot with enough water to cover them, about 3 inches high. Add 1 tablespoon salt and stir to dilute.The next day, rinse them very well and add enough water to cover them, about 1 inch high. Bring to a boil. At the same time, bring another pot of water (about 1 gallon) to a boil.
- After 10 minutes of boiling the beans drain them, return to the pot and add enough of the boiling water (from the other pot) to cover them. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender (about 50 to 60 minutes, or longer depending on the beans and the hardness of the water). During this process check the water level and if you see it very low, add some extra water to cover the beans.
- When beans are tender, add all the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 30 more minutes or until all the vegetables are tender too.Eat.
- Choose some good quality beans, since that will affect the end result. Keep in mind that the older the beans are, the longer they will need to cook.
- If your tap water is hard (with a high mineral content) it is best to boil them with some soft (low mineral) bottled water. It makes great difference in cooking time!
- Remember not to add salt until the beans are tender and soft.