Hearty Tuscan Bean Soup loaded with white beans, carrots, and tomatoes, and drizzled with rosemary olive oil.

Tuscan Bean Soup : The Wimpy Vegetarian

One of my favorite childhood soups was Campbell’s Bean and Bacon soup. My mother, who became a good cook over time, lacked the confidence when I was young, and likely the time, to delve into making soup from scratch. This was long before we learned about the nutritional compromises we were making, so we had stacks of Campbell’s canned soups on hand at any given time – half of which were Bean and Bacon.

When I saw that this week’s #SundaySupper theme was Soul Warming Dishes, you might think I would slide into my parent’s deep southern roots to make something with grits or biscuits, but the first food I thought of was this hearty soup. Before you laugh, I’ll have you know it’s a Classic Campbell’s Soup, but yeah, yeah, yeah I agree it doesn’t resonate as a “soul” warming food – which means to me a food connected to a particular culture, tradition, or heritage.

Unless you look at the soups of Italy, one of which looks an awful lot like my Campbell’s childhood friend.

After all, Italy is not a country of refined, delicate soups that have been triple strained to get a velvety texture. To the contrary, Italian soups have opinions, and openly flex their muscles. Think Earnest Hemingway, defined by heft and texture. If partially puréed, the ingredients are never annihilated into the beige silk of a Vichyssoise. In Tuscany, you see the beans, celery and carrot, and taste each of them. There’s no subterfuge by blending in cream, generally; what you see is what you get.

It’s interesting to me that while so many of Italy’s soups were shaped long before there was a unified Italy, this heartiness is a trait they tend to all share. And yet there are subtle differences. Trade between regions was frequently halted by ongoing skirmishes, wars, shifting political alliances, and the physical realities of weather and geography, which   limited food sources to what was raised and grown within the region. Over the centuries, soups – a popular way to maximize and stretch food in times of scarcity – were shaped by this, and in Tuscany it was common to add beans to soups. Two such soups that we are familiar with today are Pasta e Fagioli and Tuscan Bean Soup, the latter hauntingly similar to the aforementioned Campbell’s Bean and Bacon delicacy.

Before you point it out, I’ll admit right up front this is not a completely traditional Tuscan Bean Soup since it lacks bits of smokey, thickly-sliced bacon – which of course negates the Campbell’s experience as well. Just so you know, I went back and forth on this crucial matter – I’m a fan of flavoring soups with bacon – and I wanted to be authentic, but in the end I decided to keep it vegetarian to allow the pure bean, tomato, and vegetable flavors to come through unmuted. And frankly I wanted a vegetarian soup instead of a wimpy vegetarian soup. To balance the soup, I added a little more tomato than normally called for, and slipped a little harissa and balsamic vinegar in to increase the fullness of the umami flavors. But if you prefer to do this with bacon, feel free; no other changes need to be made, and I think you’ll be very happy with it.

One thing I should note: my finishing touches of a flurry of grated parmesan cheese, and the rosemary oil drizzle add quite a bit to the layers of flavors in the soup, and I highly recommend their inclusion in your version. So if you haven’t made rosemary olive oil yet, here’s your chance. And you can serve it alongside a hunk of bread for dipping too :-)


Tuscan Bean Soup : The Wimpy Vegetarian

Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary Oil

     by Susan Pridmore


  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 large leek, sliced in half, and then crosswise into short ribbons (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onion (1 medium-large onion)
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons harissa (or make your own!)
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (either Navy or Cannelloni Beans work well)
  • 24 ounces vegetable broth, divided
  • 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes (I used San Marzano canned tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon lemon juice (to taste)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Rosemary Olive Oil


Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a pot large enough to accommodate a large pot of soup. Add the celery, leeks, onion, carrots, salt, and dried herbs. Sauté until the carrot is slightly softened, and the onions are starting to stick to the bottom of the pan. The mixture should be very fragrant.

Use a wooden spoon to form a well in the middle of the vegetables, revealing about 3 inches of the pot. Place the harissa on the pot surface and stir for 1 minute. It should start to become paste-like. Mix into the rest of the vegetables.

Add the cooked beans, 16 ounces of the broth, the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Using a submersible blender, whirl the soup around for about 1 minute to slightly puree. If you don’t have one, just transfer one cup of the soup to a blender or food processor and purée. Stir it back into the soup in the pot.

Stir in the last eight ounces of broth, or more if desired. Add a little lemon juice, to taste, to sharpen the flavors.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and Rosemary Olive Oil

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Susan at The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen is hosting this week’s #SundaySupper party with dishes that warm your soul. We have over 50 contributors this week with everything from stews, soups and main entrees to hot drinks and desserts. For the cold nights ahead, look no further.

Main Entrees: 




Join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat.

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

We’d also love to feature your Sunday Supper Soul Warming Recipes on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board and share them with all of our followers, too.

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56 Responses to “Tuscan Bean Soup: #SundaySupper” Subscribe

  1. Lyn @LovelyPantry November 4, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    Oh Susan, I love that you said “Italian soups have opinions, and openly flex their muscles. Think Earnest Hemingway, defined by heft and texture.” – Brilliant! I have a thing for texture. I do like creamy however I know for sure that certain soups need that robust character that you speak of. I absolutely enjoyed your post today – with or without the bits of smokey, thickly-sliced bacon! Happy Sunday Supper!
    Lyn @LovelyPantry recently posted..Black Bean Soup With Hot Roast Pepper Cream for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  2. Choc Chip Uru November 4, 2012 at 1:23 am #

    This soup has so much flavour and Italian awesomeness running through it :)
    I’m loving it!

    Choc Chip Uru
    Choc Chip Uru recently posted..Ma’s Birthday 2012 + CCU Undercover: Castle TajMy Profile

  3. Renee November 4, 2012 at 4:01 am #

    I do very much enjoy bean soups. They are so filling and one bowl with some crusty bread is all you need for a hearty meal. I like that you added more tomato because I also think it brings the right flavor to the mix.
    Renee recently posted..Turkey Noodle Soup for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  4. Family Foodie November 4, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    This Soup looks amazing and reminds me of something that I would enjoy in Portugal. I love olive oil but have not tried a Rosemary Olive Oil… on my must try now! Thank you for sharing this recipe during #SundaySupper!
    Family Foodie recently posted..Easy Italian Wedding Soup #SundaySupperMy Profile

  5. veronica gantley November 4, 2012 at 4:29 am #

    Yeah, my family had a lot of canned soups too, it was just easier back then. Yours soup looks great.
    veronica gantley recently posted..Easy Chicken and Dumplings for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  6. Lane @ Supper for a Steal November 4, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    What a great sounding soup. I love beans and the addition of rosemary olive oil, perfect!
    Lane @ Supper for a Steal recently posted..30 Minute Black Bean Soup for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  7. Tammi @ Momma's Meals November 4, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    Anything that has beans in it is for me!! Love anything flavored Tuscan too! Great addition to this weeks theme!!

  8. Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen November 4, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    You have successfully made my tummy grumble!! I can’t wait to make this!!
    Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen recently posted..Chicken with Herbed Dumplings for Soul Warming #SundaySupperMy Profile

  9. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen November 4, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Fantastic soup, I love that it has italian flavors! I especially like them for their rusticity when they cook. The parmesan and oil drizzle are perfect!
    Paula @ Vintage Kitchen recently posted..Lentil and Chorizo Stew #SundaySupperMy Profile

  10. Jen @JuanitasCocina November 4, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    That bean and bacon soup is my wife’s fav! I can’t wait to make THIS bean soup and surprise her with how fabulous homemade can be!
    Jen @JuanitasCocina recently posted..Canadian Beer Cheese Soup ~ Soul Warming #SundaySupperMy Profile

  11. Heather @girlichef November 4, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    I have lots of great memories of Campbell’s from when I was young, so I completely understand. And I do love those Tuscan bean soups, so I know I’d adore this one. Even though I do love bacon, I’ve made a vegetarian version or two before in which I used some smoked paprika to impart a little of that smoky flavor that the bacon brings with great success. Your version sounds SO delicious!
    Heather @girlichef recently posted..White Hot Chocolate w/ Orange {#SundaySupper}My Profile

  12. Tara November 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    I love the addition of the rosemary oil!! The whole thing looks amazing!!
    Tara recently posted..Seafood Chowder for Soul Warming at #Sunday SupperMy Profile

  13. Soni November 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    I love beans and this soup looks like the perfect comfort food to warm us up!!Love the rosemary oil too :)
    Soni recently posted..Easy Wonton Soup #SundaySupperMy Profile

  14. Megan @IRun4Wine November 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    This sounds AMAZING. Pass me some crusty bread and I can eat a entire pot of this :)
    Megan @IRun4Wine recently posted..Healthy Homestyle Chicken and Dumplings for Dishes That Keep You Warm #SundaySupperMy Profile

  15. Chris Baccus November 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    I just want to take the first spoon and scoop up that mound of Parmesan cheese.
    Chris Baccus recently posted..#SundaySupper Beer-Braised BeefMy Profile

  16. Bea November 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm #

    What a beautiful, hearty soup! I love it!
    Bea recently posted..Chicken & Mushroom Stew on Egg Noodles for #SundaySupperMy Profile

  17. Sarah Reid, RHNC (@jo_jo_ba) November 5, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Can you believe that in a family of Italians I’m the only one who likes this?? More for me!
    Sarah Reid, RHNC (@jo_jo_ba) recently posted.."Rule of Thirds" Soup for a Warming #SundaySupperMy Profile

  18. mjskit November 5, 2012 at 7:28 am #

    It’s amazing how simple toppings like a little olive oil and cheese can take a great soup and make it even better. This looks delicious!
    mjskit recently posted..Pumpkin and Red Chile SoupMy Profile

  19. Sheila November 5, 2012 at 10:06 am #

    This sounds wonderful! Thanks for all the interesting history. I will have to try this soup. Thanks for sharing!
    Sheila recently posted..October Favorites!My Profile

  20. Sarah November 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I think everyone has a campbell’s memory from their childhood. Mine would probably be the chicken noodle soup. I’m so glad you made a fancy bean soup. You have made this soup into something else with the addition of the rosemary oil and the cheese and balsamic vinegar and the balsamic. What a soup!
    Sarah recently posted..Spicy Korean Brisket Soup {Yukgaejang} #SundaySupperMy Profile

  21. Sarah November 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    oops the last one was suppose to be harrissa. I got a little ahead of myself. heehee
    Sarah recently posted..Spicy Korean Brisket Soup {Yukgaejang} #SundaySupperMy Profile

  22. Susan November 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    If I ate beans, I’d be all over this soup. It looks wonderful!
    Susan recently posted..Carbonnade Flamande #SundaySupperMy Profile

  23. Cass @foodmyfriend November 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    Yum! I love a good soup. I don’t even mind that it’s nearly Summer. Loving that you made your own rosemary olive oil. We made olive oil at work the other week with a slow juicer. Very interesting!
    Cass @foodmyfriend recently posted..Orange and Poppyseed Syrup Cake with Meringue Butter Cream FrostingMy Profile

  24. Kare @ Kitchen Treaty November 6, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    Yes! Campbell’s bean with bacon soup is *total* comfort food and was my favorite soup as a kid. Since becoming a vegetarian I’ve often wondered how I might be able to create a vegetarian version at home, but hadn’t ever gotten around to it, and also told myself that since bacon was a main ingredient, it might be tough to replicate … but I wonder how much actual bacon it really has, anyway?

    This soup really does remind me of the Campbell’s version, looks just like it! Can’t wait to try it.
    Kare @ Kitchen Treaty recently posted..Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato SoupMy Profile

  25. Martin D. Redmond November 6, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    This soup looks amazing. I’ve never made rosemary oil, but will have to give it a try! I’m definitely going to make this one!

  26. Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic November 6, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    I love cannellini beans in soup. I can imagine how wonderful this tastes with the rosemary oil!
    Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic recently posted..Cookie Quest: Chocolate Chunk CookiesMy Profile

  27. Cindys Recipes November 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    I love bean soup! Thanks for sharing!
    Cindys Recipes recently posted..Ham and String Beans #SundaySupperMy Profile

  28. Laura Hunter November 8, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    I love the flavour combos in this bean soup


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