Tomato and white bean soup is a favorite in the colder months when soups and stews become regular features at the dinner table. In this version, you sauté aromatic vegetables together in olive oil with just the right touch of chile pepper and smoked paprika before adding tomatoes, broth, and cannellini beans. Fifteen minutes later, the soup is done and ready for your bowl.
What’s in it?
This tomato and white bean soup has a deliciously smoky edge thanks to the inclusion of smoked paprika, while crushed red chile gives it the tiniest inflection of heat. Loads of aromatic vegetables give a lift to the soup’s flavor and add their own nutritional benefits, too. And while the soup has no cream, it does have a decidedly creamy edge thanks to the inclusion of cannellini beans – an Italian variety of white beans.
Tips for making the soup
Making this soup is pretty straightforward. You begin by sautéing aromatic vegetables such as fennel, celery, and onions, in olive oil until fragrant, and then you stir in the liquid ingredients (broth and tomatoes). When the vegetables are cooked through, you add the beans and allow them to warm up before puréeing everything together. But here are some simple tips to keep in mind when you make it.
- Let the vegetables sweat, not caramelize. That means, the vegetables should cook until fragrant and tender, but shouldn’t fry in the oil or begin to darken.
- If you can’t find fennel, you can add a half-teaspoon of ground fennel seed. Or, you can skip it entirely if you prefer.
- You can cook your own beans if you prefer to. Soak about 1 cup cannellini beans the night before in hot water with ¼ teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon sea salt. Drain and then simmer in a pot until tender, or cook in the InstanPot for about 10 minutes.
- The recipe calls for whole peeled tomatoes, but you can use diced or crushed tomatoes in the same quantity if you prefer.
- Garnish the soup with fresh herbs, seeds, croutons, or even bacon right before serving. It helps make the soup a little more substantial and filling.
Tomato and White Bean Soup Recipe
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
- 6 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 medium fennel bulb (cored and chopped)
- 3 medium carrots (chopped)
- 4 ribs celery (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons finely ground real salt
- 1 (18.3 oz jar) whole peeled tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken bone broth
- 3 cups cooked cannellini beans
- Swirl the olive oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. When you feel the heat emanating off the pan, then dump in the onion, garlic, fennel, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle them with salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika.
- Let the vegetables cook in the hot oil, stirring occasionally, until they soften and release their aroma – about 8 minutes.
- Pour in the tomatoes and broth, and bring the contents of the pot up to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately turn down the heat to medium low, and then stir in the beans. Simmer about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the beans are warmed through.
- Turn off the heat, adjust seasoning with sea salt, and then purée until smooth. Ladle into soup bowls to serve it right away, or transfer to the refrigerator where the soup will keep up to 5 days.
Add bacon. Instead of using 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, use 1 tablespoon plus 4 ounces chopped bacon. Allow the bacon to crisp in the olive oil and render its fat, and then cook the soup as you normally would and purée the crisp bacon in with the other ingredients.
Add chopped kale or Swiss chard. Instead of puréeing the soup, finish it by turning off the heat and dropping in a bunch of chopped kale or Swiss chard. Put the lid on the pot, and let the greens wilt in the soup’s residual heat. Ladle into soup bowls and serve warm.
Add garlic confit instead of fresh garlic. Garlic confit has a deeper garlic flavor than fresh garlic, and it resonates well with both tomatoes and white beans in this soup.
Add rosemary and thyme at the beginning of cooking when you sauté the vegetables, and then lift them out of the pot with kitchen tongs right before you add the tomatoes and broth.