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Sep 17, 2022

Tuscan White Bean Soup

This simple Tuscan bean soup is pure comfort food. It's simply beans simmered in a broth flavored with onions, carrots, and celery, along with a meaty ham hock. 

Tuscan White Bean Soup in a white bowl.

What's beautiful about this Tuscan white bean soup is you can make it your own by adding some kale, carrot slices, Swiss chard, or other vegetables. 

You can also make a thicker soup by using less water to cook the beans if you prefer. 

Ruth Reichl book cover.

This soup comes from a beautiful personal memoir written by Ruth Reichl. It chronicles the year after she learned that the magazine for which she was Editor in Chief, Gourmet, was being shut down by Condé Nast. 

The title is My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life, but, at over 300 pages, it's much more than a book of recipes. 

The book is divided into four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Ruth tells the story of the day in early fall 2009 that she and her staff learned of the magazine's demise, and follows with the emotional roller coaster ride one goes through after losing a job you love. 

Tuscan White Bean Soup in two white bowls.

A couple of my favorite moments in the book:

After everyone in the room digested the fact that the magazine was shutting down and they were all getting fired:  "I went out to see what was going on.. our drinks editor was standing in the conference room opening the hundreds of bottles of wine he had collected. 'Drink up,' he kept saying, 'no point in leaving it here. By dusk we were all drunk, exhausted, and feeling very fragile."

The story about the food vendor in the airport who recognized her and told her how she waited each month by the mailbox for the magazine to arrive was also very sweet. 

There so are many more stories, including the story about how this soup represents comfort and warmth. 

"This is one of the most consoling dishes I know... I first tasted it in a tiny Tuscan town...."

Tuscan White Bean Soup ingredients in a pot.

To Make this Soup:

First, soak the beans overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the beans, and add them to a pot of water along with two onions, two carrots, two celery stalks, and a meaty ham hock. Simmer the mixture for about 90 minutes, until the beans are soft and tender. 

Next, discard the onions, carrots, and celery and puree about half of the beans in the pot with an immersion blender or stand blender. 

After that, cut the meat off of the ham hock and add it to the pot. 

Finally, garnish the soup with a handful of parsley. The soup is ready to serve!

Tuscan White Bean Soup in a white bowl with a red rim.

Ingredient Notes:

Dried White Beans: Usually cannellini or navy beans. 

Water: This recipe calls for three times the amount of water than you have beans. For a thicker soup, use less water. 

Onion: Two large yellow or brown onions.

Carrots: Two large carrots. 

Celery: Two large stalks. 

Ham hock: Get the meatiest one you can find. 

Tuscan White Bean Soup in two bowls.

This month, the Soup Saturday Swappers are sharing recipes for soups inspired by a favorite book. 

While the book I chose does include actual recipes, the stories and the flow of the memoir is much more than that. 

Here are everyone's soups:

Tuscan White Bean Soup in a bowl.

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tuscan White Bean Soup
Yield: 8 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 1 H & 30 MInactive time: 8 HourTotal time: 10 Hour
This simple Tuscan bean soup is pure comfort food. It's simply beans simmered in a broth flavored with onions, carrots, and celery, along with a meaty ham hock.


  • 1 pound dried white (cannellini or navy) beans
  • 1 meaty ham hock
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 yellow or brown onions, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and black peppercorns to taste
  • Half a bunch of parsley plus 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with enough water to cover with an extra two inches. Let soak overnight.
  2. Drain the beans and rinse them in cold water. Place them in a large pot.
  3. Cover the beans with 2 to 3 time the amount of water as the beans, depending on how thick you want the final soup to be.
  4. Add the ham hock, celery, carrots, onions, bay leaves, half of a bunch of parsley, and some salt and peppercorns to taste.
  5. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered for about 90 minutes (or more, depending on the beans), until the beans are very soft.
  6. Remove and discard the onion, carrot, celery, parsley, and bay leaves. Remove the ham hock and set it aside. Remove half of the beans and puree the rest of the beans in the pot with an immersion blender to thicken the soup. Add back the reserved.
  7. Cut the ham from the ham hock and cut it into small pieces. Add the half to the soup.
  8. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with a garnish of chopped fresh parsley leaves and grated Parmesan.

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Would you like to comment?

  1. I have read and enjoyed many of Ruth Reichl's memoirs and am going to order up this cookbook. Thanks for sharing Karen.

  2. This is a book I need to read. I've been in a similar position before and I can see how this soup might make things just a wee bit better.


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