Tuscan Bread Bean Soup Recipe

Tuscan Bread and Bean Soup

Written by Becky

Some advice I’ve recently been given: If you have beans on hand then you have a meal. This Tuscan Bread and BeanSoup recipe can really feed the crowds and they’ll enjoy every bite. My friend Halen, who weekly feeds a big group of her friends, once told me that if she was going to have a few extra people over unexpectedly, she’d just throw in a few extra cans of beens to the soup, stew, or tacos she made. I found this to be sound advice for when I make a big meal now and again.

Tuscan Bread Bean Soup Recipe Around the same time as hearing my friend’s advice, I picked up a book my sweet husband gifted me last year, An Everlasting Meal. I poured over every chapter underlining and earmarking many pages.  Much of the advice in this book falls in line with my friend Halen’s good sense.  First of all the byline of the book, Cooking with Economy and Grace, should tell you a lot about the style of Tamar Adler’s writing.  She looks to tell her readers how make a delicious meal with even the humblest ingredients. Her philosophy being:  cook fresh ingredients right after you purchase them, make use of the bones, skins, and peels that we often discard, and almost all kitchen mistakes can be remedied.  Ideas I hope to live by in my kitchen!

Tuscan Bread Bean Soup Recipe

The ingredients for this soup are simple: beans, broth, vegetables, and bread.  It’s a hearty peasant dish from Italy that’s affordable to make and improves if made a day ahead. I found beautiful cranberry beans at Liberty Heights Fresh, and asked for a loaf of their day-old Rustic Italian bread, which made for the perfect addition to this soup.

Tuscan Bread Bean Soup Recipe

As far as beans are concerned, Tamar dedicates a whole chapter on this simple and often overlooked ingredient.  She explains that beans were used to feed gladiators in ancient Rome and that beans only get better after a few days, ‘sitting, gorged, and swelled, like a happy fat boy’ (a word picture that must make you smile).  I must admit that I wasn’t giving beans the proper attention they deserved in my cooking.  Much like stale bread that often gets regarded with suspicion, beans are easy to disregard.

Tuscan Bread Bean Soup Recipe

This recipe makes good use of both of these overlooked ingredients, beans and day-old bread, and places them at their rightful place, in a tasty, timeless soup. This Bread Bean Soup Recipe is a treasure found in The Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook, a cookbook written by Tamar Adler’s mentor, Alice Waters. I’ve altered the recipe slightly to include more seasonally fresh ingredients which I found at Liberty Heights Fresh.

Tuscan Bread and Bean Soup Recipe • theVintageMixer.com

Tuscan Bread Bean Soup Recipe

Tuscan Bread and Bean Soup

A traditional Tuscan Bread and Bean Soup Recipe. 
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings


  • 1 pound fresh cranberry beans
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, chopped
  • salt
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bundle of kale, washed and torn into 1 in leaves
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 loaf day-old Italian-style bread, cut into 1 in pieces
  • pepper
  • Parmesan Reggiano Cheese for garnishing


  • Soak cranberry beans over night, covered in water by 1 inch. The next day, drain the beans. Sauté a diced shallot in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, add the beans and thyme and a dash of salt, then cover with water by 1 inch and cook for about 30 minutes, or until soft but not falling apart. Reserve cooking liquid and set aside.
  • While beans are cooking, dice the celery, carrot, and onions. Warm 1/2 cup olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Saute the diced vegetables, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the rosemary, sage, bay leaf, garlic and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook for a couple of minutes. Finely chop the tomatoes and add into the mixture cooking for another 5 minutes. Cover with the broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the beans and 1 cup of their cooking liquid -save any extra liquid in case more is needed later. Taste for saltiness. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes then remove the bay leaf.
  • Meanwhile, coarsely chop the kale or tear into bite sized pieces, and cut the bread into 3/4 inch cubes- you will need about 6 cups of loosely packed cubes. Day-old (or several days old) bread is best; otherwise dry the cubes in a low oven. Add the kale to the soup, cooking just until it's wilted. At this point you can also add the bread or serve the soup with the bread to be mixed in with each portion. I personally like to toss a handful of bread into my bowl, then ladel the soup over the bread. I top it all off with grated Parmesan-Reggiano.


This soup is even better the day after it's made. A few tips - for more flavor add a piece of meaty prosciutto bone or a thick slice of pancetta to the beans. To thin the soup, add more broth or bean liquid, or water. The bread can be added in even if you're serving the soup the next day, or you can store the bread and mix it in right before serving.



Comments (12)

  1. I might make this at the weekend, you’ve inspired me! I made two loaves of focaccia last night and for some unknown reason we actually have some leftovers… I think stale focaccia could be *very* nice in this (flavoured as it is with rosemary & oregano, anyway). Is this soup the same as a standard Ribollita? I know that ‘ribollita’ translates to ‘reboiled’, which is perhaps the unsexiest name for a soup in the entire world, but it sounds lovely on the tongue (as it tastes, too).

    • I think its very similar to Ribollita. Please let me know what you think! It’s a simple soup but there’s something about the bread and beans that makes it so comforting and hearty!

  2. I stumbled upon this recipe and your blog, in searching for a homemade limoncello recipe. Although I opted to set the limoncello task aside for now, I did however, make this Tuscan Bread and Bean Soup recipe. It was completed, tasted, savored and enjoyed today. I normally don’t follow recipes to a “t”, but I did this one, and it turned out wonderful. I can’t wait to savor it again tomorrow after resting for a day. Thanks for the recipe.

    Ps… SOME day I’ll see how the limoncello recipe turns out.

    • Brian, I’m so glad you stumbled upon my blog and enjoyed the soup! The limoncello actually is much easier than it looks. Let me know if you have any questions when you start the process!

  3. I love this approach, and so enjoyed “An Everlasting Meal.” It always makes me think of all the forgotten ways we have to relearn. I am sure that this kind of economy was second nature to my grandmother, or great grandmother. Glad we’re getting back to a more frugal lifestyle, especially if it means eating such a hearty, wonderful soup.

    • This way of thinking was totally second nature to my grandmother as well!! Sometimes, it’s hard to have that way of thinking in today’s world, but books like An Everlasting Meal help 🙂

  4. I’m meal planning right now and have been wanting to add this to the schedule because it sounds and looks so comforting. I finally read the post and was happy to see that you mentioned An Everlasting Meal as I’m in the middle of it right now. I, too, am highlighting and studying the hells out of it. I would love to cook with economy for my family (and hopefully my grace would come later, ha). I love the section about purchasing and roasting all your veggies for the week.

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