Updated December 18, 2019.
Bean soup is warm, hearty, and savory. This cannellini bean soup is all those things and it’s easy to make.
I love this soup, but I have made some improvements that I want to share with you. As you read through this post, look for the word “update” in italics.
Background on the Updates
We recently made a large amount of this cannellini bean soup to serve about 40 people. When it was almost time to serve the soup, I tasted it and it seemed a little bland. I realized that I had forgotten to add the Italian dressing. That little bit of vinegar in the dressing makes a big difference in a dish that contains beans. Go here for some background info about cooking beans. We didn’t have any Italian dressing or vinegar, but we did have a jar of Herdez Guacamole Salsa. (This is not a sponsored post, but I do love this stuff.) I added some of that into the soup and it went from bland to wow. The story ended well with several people commenting on how much they liked the soup.
Now, when we make this cannellini bean soup, we always add Herdez Guacamole Salsa. If you don’t have any on hand, try some hot sauce such as Cholula or sriracha. Also, I now use vegetable broth instead of water. In fact, I use that as an ingredient in all of my soups to add depth and flavor.Jump to Recipe
If you cook the beans ahead of time or use canned beans, this all comes together in minutes. Yes, I said minutes. That means that you can whip this up after a long day of working, parenting, volunteering, exercising or whatever it is that fills your day – when you’re not cooking of course.
With fall rolling in, our thoughts automatically turn to soups. We love them anytime, but we’re less inclined to spoon down a hot meal in the heat of the summer. But now that the temperature has dialed back a bit, we’re ready to dive into soups and we’re starting October with this one.
You’ll need these items:
- Cannellini beans
- Canned tomatoes
- Updated: Vegetable stock
- One or two leeks
- Italian seasoning
- Italian dressing
- Macaroni (or other pasta)
- Fresh Spinach
If you make your beans from scratch, using dried cannellini beans, cook them ahead of time. We used our Instant Pot method and made the beans the day before, adding a little salt and a sprig of rosemary to the instant pot. If you do this, be sure to remove the rosemary before adding the beans to the soup. Canned beans work just as well, so if you have those, pull them out of the pantry and get started.
Grab a can of tomatoes while you’re in the pantry. Update: We use Italian Style canned tomatoes. You can find these alongside other canned tomatoes in the store. Other options for the canned tomatoes in this cannellini bean soup are fire-roasted tomatoes or tomatoes with garlic and olive oil. If you use plain canned diced tomatoes be sure to add dried Italian seasoning blend.
If you don’t have a leek handy, substitute about one-quarter of a yellow onion. However, if you’re going to buy the ingredients for this soup, pick up a leek while you’re shopping. Leeks have a subtle flavor that works well in this bean soup.
We made this with the ingredients listed here, but feel free to add some yellow or zucchini squash to the mix or leave out the spinach if you’re not a fan. Macaroni is a good choice in this soup because it’s easy to eat with a spoon. Other kinds of short pasta will work just as well, so if you have some penne, bowtie, or fusilli pasta you can try one of those in this soup. Whichever kind of pasta you use, be sure to cook it separately and add it toward the end of the cooking time. Adding macaroni to bean soup provides a complete vegetarian protein. For more info about combining grains and beans to make complete proteins, see our Grains, Beans, and Bowls post.
Making Cannellini Bean Soup
Slice the leeks and the mushrooms. Make sure you cut off the root end of the leek and discard that, plus any of the hard part near the root. Leeks are notoriously sandy, so you might want to cut the leeks down the middle and rinse them thoroughly before slicing them. When you slice the leeks, include a little bit of the green part to add some nice color, but don’t use the tough leaves.
You can either chop or slice the fresh garlic or use a garlic press, whichever way you prefer.
After you have sliced these ingredients, sauté them in about a tablespoon of olive oil until the leek slices and garlic are soft and the mushrooms are a little bit brown. Cooking these ingredients releases their flavors and helps the leek slices separate. If you add them to the bean soup without sautéing them first, you’ll miss out on a lot of flavors and the mushrooms will seem bloated.
We used bagged spinach that you can find in the produce section. You don’t need to rinse it, chop it, or even measure it. Three-handfuls equals about three cups of raw spinach. It cooks quickly so that’s why you add it toward the end of the cooking time. The spinach adds some texture and color to this bean soup.
You might also want to try our Vegetable Bean Soup.
Cannellini Bean Soup
- 2 cups cannellini beans or one 15-16 oz can undrained
- 1 can of diced Italian style tomatoes
- 1 or 2 leeks
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 3/4 cup dry macaroni cooked
- 3 cups of fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup vegetable broth or bouillon Updated
- Update Optional Two or more teaspoons Herdez Guacamole Salsa, or 2 T Italian dressing
- Cook the beans ahead of time or use canned beans. If you use canned beans, don’t drain them.
- Thoroughly rinse the leeks to remove any grit or sand.
- Slice the leeks and the mushrooms.
- Chop or slice the fresh garlic. (or use a garlic press)
- Sauté the leek slices, mushrooms, and garlic cloves in about a tablespoon of olive oil until the leek slices and garlic are soft and the mushrooms are a little bit brown.
- While you’re sautéing the leek and the mushrooms, cook the macaroni according to package instructions.
- Drain the macaroni and set it aside.
- Put the beans, tomatoes, salt, the Italian seasoning, and the cooked mushrooms, leeks, and garlic into a large pot.
- Update Add about a cup of vegetable broth or bouillon.
- Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the cooked macaroni and the spinach.
- Cook on medium heat for about two minutes to cook the spinach.
- Update (Optional) Stir in a couple of teaspoons (or more to taste) of spicy green salsa such as Herdez Guacamole Salsa – OR – about two tablespoons of Italian dressing to the pot right before serving.
- If you use canned beans, you don’t need to drain the beans; just toss the beans into the pot as is.
- Update If you use home-made beans, use some of the juice from them with the vegetable broth.