This Italian Bean soup can be made mostly with simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. It's delicious and easy, and eating it eases the pain of not making it to Italy for my big birthday and eating all that wonderful Italian cuisine. A little.
We had been planning this trip for ages, but with my mom passing and the world going crazy, we knew we would have to reschedule. Maybe in the fall!
We love a hearty winter soup around here, and beans are so easy to store in the pantry.
Beans are also very inexpensive. Add a loaf of crusty bread and you have a meal for six people for under $10.
Italian Bean Soup
This bean soup recipe is one of my favorite vegetable soups. It has three different varieties of beans and I think the combination gives it a delicious flavor and great texture.
Beans are also so good for you. They are a great source of fiber, which is so important in our diets. Beans pack a great protein punch, too. Ask vegetarians where they get their protein, and most will tell you beans are a staple in their diet.
If you're looking for low-calorie meals, beans are a great choice. They really should be part of your healthy eating menu!
This recipe uses canned beans, so you don't need to worry about soaking them ahead of time. Of course, you can use dried beans. They are definitely less expensive.
According to Harvard Medical School, men who eat beans have a reduced risk of prostate cancer, precancerous colon polyps, and pancreatic cancer. Prostate cancer runs in my husband's family, and his mom is a colon cancer survivor.
Especially for people who are predisposed to these diseases, if eating beans might help, why wouldn't you increase legumes in your diet? It's a no-brainer for us. A couple of our favorites are this hearty lentil stew and this black-eyed pea soup. Both are vegan, as well.
Adding beans to chicken soup gives it a boost of fiber and makes it even more filling. This Immune Boosting soup was fabulous, and I have two containers in the freezer for nights when I don't want to cook. Yay!
You do need a lot of ingredients, but that's where the incredible flavor comes from! Fortunately, you probably have quite a few of these basic ingredients already in your pantry.
Scroll down to the printable recipe for exact measurements, and if you are participating in the Daniel Fast, you have to read labels! Many canned tomatoes, broths, and even cans of beans may have sugar added. If you're not doing the fast, carry on!
You'll need olive oil, minced garlic cloves, onions, celery, dried rosemary and thyme, a little flour (leave out for Daniel Fast), bay leaves, kosher salt, black pepper, and a whole clove. Feel free to use fresh herbs if you have them!
For the beans, you'll need baby lima beans, red kidney beans, and chickpeas. You can totally use any kind of white beans such as cannellini beans or great northern beans to make an Italian white bean soup.
All grocery stores have large sections of beans. Look there for inspiration!
For the vegetables, you'll need a potato, carrots, and spinach. I used barley, but you can use pasta shells if you prefer.
Prepare all your ingredients. Cook barley according to package directions.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.
Sauté onions, celery, and minced garlic until soft and light golden brown. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon so it doesn't burn. (Though not as good as fresh, you can still make this delicious Italian bean soup with dried garlic, dried onion, and dried celery.)
Add flour, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds until combined.
Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, clove, and kosher salt and black pepper, stirring for about a minute.
Pour in the vegetable broth and all the beans.
Add tomato paste and stir until combined.
Let the soup come to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer, cooking for about 20 minutes on low heat.
Add potatoes and carrots and cook for about 15 minutes until tender.
Add barley and spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilted and the barley is warm, about 5 minutes.
Remove bay leaves.
Ladle soup into bowls.
Serve warm with a loaf of crusty Italian bread or crackers.
Your total time making this soup should be under an hour.
What Other Vegetables Could I Use for Italian Bean Soup?
There are so many possibilities for this soup! Any bean would be good in this soup. Use what you have on hand! It's always a good idea to have at least six cans of beans on hand just in case you need them. It's one canned item I run out of a lot.
You could add fennel, mushrooms, or leeks. Cabbage would also be a nice addition. I think a handful of black olives would be delicious, too! Italian green beans or chopped yellow pepper would add a nice flavor.
How Long Does this Italian Bean Soup Keep?
We often freeze a batch of soup right after it cools as my husband and I are empty nesters during the college school year. We wouldn't have leftovers if our girls were here unless it was just a bowl or two, and that would be eaten for lunch the next day!
Sometimes leftover soup becomes too thick. Just add enough water until it's the consistency you like. Be careful not to overdo it. You can always add a little salt and pepper.
Making a double batch is not a bad idea. It freezes for four to six months. It's so nice to pull out a meal from the freezer and not have to cook one night! Make sure the container is airtight.
If you're looking for more soup ideas, check out this homemade tomato soup recipe. It has a nice robust flavor because of the addition of the curry spices. I also have these hearty soup recipes, chicken soups and stews, and this easy one-pot Italian pasta soup.
What's your favorite soup or stew? Let me know so I can try to make it, too.
Italian Bean Soup
- 1 T olive oil
- ½ C celery chopped
- 4 tsp garlic minced (less if dried)
- 1 C onion chopped
- 1 T flour I used whole wheat
- ¼ tsp thyme dried
- 1 tsp rosemary dried
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 clove
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper fresh ground if possible
- 60 ounces vegetable broth
- 1 can green baby lima beans 15 ounces, drained and rinsed
- 1 can red beans 15 ounces, drained and rinsed
- 1 can chickpeas 15 ounces, drained and rinsed
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 C potato chopped
- 1 C carrots sliced
- 1 ½ C barley
- 1 C spinach leaves optional but delicious!
- Prepare all your ingredients. Cook barley according to package directions.
- In a stockpot, heat the oil over medium.
- Sauté onions, celery, and garlic until soft. (Though not as good as fresh, you can still make this delicious Italian bean soup with dried garlic, dried onion, and dried celery.)
- Add flour, stirring constantly about 30 seconds until combined.
- Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, clove, and salt and pepper, stirring for about a minute.
- Pour in vegetable broth and all the beans.
- Add tomato paste and stir until combined.
- Let the soup come to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer, cooking for about 20 minutes.
- Add potatoes and carrots and cook for about 15 minutes until tender.
- Add barley and spinach and cook until the spinach is just wilted and the barley is warm, about 5 minutes.
- Remove bay leaves.
- Serve warm with a loaf of crusty bread or crackers.
This post was first seen on Food, Fun & Faraway Places on December 3, 2019, and was updated with additional information on June 22, 2021.