This Italian-inspired recipe, Creamy Tuscan White Bean Soup with Ham, uses cannellini beans nestled in a rich creamy broth with ham, carrots, onions, and greens.
To start off, this isn’t your ordinary bean soup. My Creamy Tuscan White Bean Soup with Ham is a play on the classic Midwest version that is “stick to your ribs good” that mom made but with an Italian flair.
Now for the record, this recipe is based off my mom’s recipe, although she never really followed a recipe but made most dishes off the top of her head.
Her soup was so rich and thick that you could literally stand a spoon in it. She made it with Great Northern Beans and smoked ham hock, along with russet potatoes. Then she cooked it slowly until everything melded together. Just before serving, she made homemade flour-and-egg dumplings and served tobasco for those of us brave enough to add a few drops to the soup.
When I think back to this time, she was pretty thrifty, especially for a large family like ours (7 in all). This was definitely a low-cost soup/stew that was to die for and that made enough leftovers for another meal.
But times and changed and so have tastes, so to give homage to this memory, I decided to do a spin on her recipe. For this recipe, I use cannellini beans nestled in a rich creamy broth with carrots, onions, and collard greens (although you could easily substitute this with spinach or kale).
How to Make Creamy Tuscan White Bean Soup with Ham
Start with two cans (15 ounces each) of cannelinni beans and place everything, liquid and all into a large stock pot.
How to Prepare Your Beans – 3 Ways
Certainly, canned beans are quick and easy and for many folks this option is a must. Just be sure to check the brand of cannellini beans first before purchasing. Some brands have more salt and other ingredients that are less desirable. But if you are pressed for time, these are great in a pinch.
If you do have the time to cook dried beans, give it a try. Here is a quick tutorial how to prepare dried white beans on the stovetop. This is the longest option but also a great one. Give it a try.
As you can see, you’ve got options, but if you want your beans lickety-split AND from scratch, here’s a video tutorial how to use your Instant Pot to prepare dried beans. This video shows how to make garbanzo beans, but you can easily substitute the bean type with cannellini. The video gives the timing for black beans. Use this time as a starting point to make the most delicious cannellini beans ever.
Add Potato Gnocchi
I chose potato gnocchi because of its plump, tender and airy texture that resembles both the taste and feel of my mom’s dumplings, as well as the must-have taste of potato—which I have to say is also a must if you make bean soup—just saying.
The brand I recommend is Rustichella d’Abruzzo Potato Gnocchi. It offers the delicate flavor of fresh potatoes but without the “heaviness” of cooked potatoes.
Add the Rest of the Ingredients
Next, add chopped onions, sliced or julienne carrots, celery and frozen or fresh chopped collard greens (spinach or kale) to the pot.
Then I like to add some chopped smoked ham that is fully cooked, or you could also use deli “ham-off-the-bone” and slice it into bite size pieces. Either way works well.
Top with four cups of chicken stock and cook for about 10 minutes at a rolling boil.
Allow the soup to cook through until the potato gnocchi have softened—about five to 10 minutes more, when you will add the final ingredient: cream. This will not only thicken the soup a bit more but also add the richness that plays off the other ingredients.
Heat for five minutes and stir continuously, as the cream has the habit of bubbling out of the pot when it gets super hot. Salt and pepper to taste.
Then remove the soup from the heat. Allow it to sit covered for a couple of minutes until you are ready to serve.
The traditional way to serve this Creamy Tuscan White Bean Soup is with a thick piece of crusty bread in the bottom of the bowl. Pour several ladles of soup over. You can also add shaved Parmesan Reggiano, if you like. Enjoy!
For more delicious soup and stew recipes, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Recipe Section and these tasty family favorite recipes:
- Bird-Style Romano Beans
- Potato Gnocchi with Meat Sauce
- Osso Buco
- Pasta e Fagioli
- Homemade Chicken and Dumplings
- Summer Harvest Beef Stew
Creamy Tuscan White Bean Soup with Ham
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 cup onion finely chopped
- 1 cup celery finely chopped
- 1 cup carrot peeled, sliced or julienne
- 1 cup frozen collard greens chopped, or 2 cups of fresh spinach or kale, chopped
- 2 cups cannellini beans cooked (or 2 cans 15.5 oz approx canned
- 1 cup cream (preferred) or half and half
- 16 oz package potato gnocchi
- 1 cup smoked ham chopped
- Rosemary 1 sprig
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Crusty Bread sliced (optional)
- Parmesan Reggiano shaved (optional)
- In a large pot, heat the butter and oil and add onions, carrots and celery. Sauté until tender, approximately 5-7 minutes.
- Next add the garlic, ham chunks, beans, rosemary, collard greens and chicken stock. Cook for another five minutes.
- Then, add the potato gnocchi. Cook for approximately 10 minutes on a simmer.
- Remove the rosemary sprig and discard.
- Serve the soup with a piece of crusty bread in the bottom of the bowl with the soup ladled over. Garnish with fresh shaved Parmesan Reggiano, optional. Enjoy!