Tuscan White Bean Soup in the slow cooker is simple but bursting with flavor. The base is minced pancetta, onions and garlic, finished with fresh Rosemary.
It’s hard to beat the rustic simplicity of a nice bean soup and this Tuscan White Bean Soup in the slow cooker is simple but bursting with flavor. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get this type of dish wrong, especially in the slow cooker. If you don’t prep your beans well and balance the flavor of the broth, it’s just mushy beans in a watery base. But this recipe, inspired by the crew at America’s Test Kitchen, is neither of those fails. The soup looks beautiful, tastes robust, and is easy to get right by taking a few steps to ensure exceptional flavor.
Start with dried beans for full flavor and texture (I include a fool-proof method for soaking the beans to ensure they don’t split and so the skin is soft, not chewy). Then for the base, a good helping of minced pancetta yum!, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes provide a complex balance with a hint of smoke. These ingredients help flavor the broth as well as the beans. If you can get a nice hunk of Parmesan rind to use in this dish, do it. The Parm rind isn’t critical, but I prefer it. It helps the flavors play well together in the broth. Last, a fresh sprig of Rosemary is essential, but equally important is to make sure not to add the Rosemary until the end of cooking or it overpowers and becomes bitter.
Even with slow cooker meals, prep work is essential before dumping everything in for the pot to work its magic (that is, if you want it to really taste delicious). So, the night before, while you’re prepping your beans to soak, a time-saving tip to get this going effortlessly the next morning; pre-mince your pancetta, onions and garlic. The next morning, you need a few minutes to saute’ the base, rinse the beans and place everything in the pot. Your house will smell wonderful, and a few accompaniments will make a hearty meal.
Speaking of accompaniments, some crusty bread is nearly as important as the soup and we like to toast some soft French bread, brush it with olive oil and then rub fresh garlic on the top, and crack a dash of black pepper on there too. A bouquet of mixed olives and a nice tossed salad…simple but full flavors that are anything but dull. Tuscan White Bean Soup in the slow cooker is filling and comforting. And last but not least…
…some Parmesan Reggiano grated over the soup at serving will make a good thing only perfect.
Tuscan White Bean Soup in the Slow Cooker
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 6 ounces pancetta, minced
- 3 medium onions, minced
- 8 cloves cloves, minced
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- 1 pound dried great Northern or cannellini beans, approx 2 ½ cups
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind, optional but flavorful
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Salt and pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- First soak 1 pound dried beans in salt water: (salt tenderizes them, otherwise you have tough and chewy bean skins). Use one of the following methods:
Use one of the following methods:
- Pick through and rinse the beans. For every pound of beans, dissolve 2 Tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water. Combine the beans and salt water in a large container and let the beans soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain the beans, discarding the soaking liquid, and rinse well before cooking.
Quick Salt-Soaking Method,
- Pick through and rinse the beans. For every pound of beans, dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 2 quarts boiling water. Combine the beans and hot salt water in a large pot and let the beans soak at room temperature for 1 hour. Drain the beans, discarding the soaking liquid, and rinse well before cooking.
Make the Soup:
- Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 6 ounces pancetta and cook until lightly browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Stir in 3 minced onions, 8 minced garlic and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook until onions are softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in 1 cup broth, scraping up browned bits, if any: transfer to slow cooker.
- Stir remaining 3 cups broth, 4 cups water, soaked beans, 1 Parmesan rind (if using), and 2 bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beans are tender, 9 to 10 hours on low or 5 to 6 hours on high.
- Do not add rosemary sprig yet. Adding in at this point will result in overpowering rosemary flavor.
- At end of cooking time, add 1 rosemary sprig, cover, and cook on high until rosemary is fragrant, about 15 minutes. Discard rosemary, bay leaves, and Parmesan rind. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with grated Parmesan and additional olive oil, if desired.
- At the end of cooking but before you add the Rosemary, if you want more broth, feel free to add up to one cup of water to the soup.
Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution.
Glen Robinson says
This is the exact same recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook. So not sure who developed it. But I am grateful that it is here because I am traveling and do not have my book so I can make this for my friends in a huge California storm.
Sally Humeniuk says
Glen, Yes , it’s an ATK recipe. I give them credit at the bottom of the post. Glad you were able to use it. It’s a good one.
It’s suppose to snow all day today in CO so I thought “What a perfect day to make a hearty, yet easy soup!” And knew just where to look! Cant wait for dinner time. This is one of my favorite soups on your blog. From the 5 of us, Thank you for sharing Sally 🙂
Great soup recipe for Fall!
katie d says
Super duper tasty!!! Would definitely make again.
Can this be made with canned beans?
Hi Kayla, I don’t see why not. They might become more soft than the dried beans so maybe cut a half hour or so off the cooking time. Thanks for stopping by!
Oh yum! My mom always made white bean soup but I haven’t tried making it yet. This recipe looks delicious- and slow cooker recipes are my favorite!!!
This recipe, using dried beans, made in the slow cooker was so super easy and we all love it too. Thanks again for visiting Sarah.
Another Sally says
Delicious! I’m thinking about making some pomodoro al forno to eat with the leftovers.
Sally, that would be amazing! I made some recently to add to yummy polenta. If you have some nice olives, through them in with the tomatoes to roast. The olives get intense and delicious. Thanks for making it.
Kevin | Keviniscooking says
Wow, we must be mentally connected as this is in my slow cooker today and I have the exact same spoon! Crazy, no?
Sans the Parm rind (lovely idea, just don’t have any), I have a few different additions. I guess I’ll post mine in a few weeks. Ha! Great minds think alike – beautiful photos, too!
You’re scaring me. That is crazy! Post whenever you were going to post, my friend! Love it.