There is something about a simmering pot of soup that is a full sensory experience. The way the aromatic steam beckons you. The harmonious melding of tender-crisp vegetables. That first warming bite that you feel in your soul. Tuscan White Bean Soup with Parmesan Croutons is total comfort in a pot. With its layered broth and generous chunks of sausage, this is a dish that will have you popping open a bottle of vino and celebrating soup season all year long.
Whether it’s a pot of Chuck Roast Chili with Beans or this hearty yet light celebration of vegetables, there is nothing like a Dutch oven simmering away on the stove or grill. Soups and stews are great for meal prep, feeding a crowd, or bringing over to friends and family to instantly cheer them up. With simple ingredients and a little love developing flavors with every layer, this is a dish that will transport you to Tuscany.
What is Tuscan Cuisine?
It’s become trendy to label dishes that are about as Italian as bottomless bowls of salad and never-ending breadsticks as Tuscan. The flavors and ingredients of this Tuscan White Bean Soup with Parmesan Croutons are deeply rooted in a traditional Tuscan dish, ribollita.
Italian food in general is extremely regional, being influenced by its geography, climate, and the people that call that particular region home. Tuscany is a region in west-central Italy made up of sandy coastlines and lush, rolling countryside, with hills making up nearly two thirds of the region.
Tuscan cuisine is a celebration of fresh ingredients prepared simply. While the history of the Tuscan people is rooted in poverty, this is a culinary rich area with renowned wines, cheeses, meats, fish, and produce. One of the most common ingredients you’ll find in Tuscan cuisine are beans, specifically creamy cannellini beans, with the rest of Italy once calling people from Tuscany mangiafagioli, or bean eaters.
This dish gets its inspiration from one of Tuscany’s most famous dishes, ribollita. Ribollita is a prime example of cocina puvera, a rural style of cooking utilizing humble ingredients in a resourceful way. Stale bread, simple vegetables such as readily available tomatoes, chard, lacinato kale, and carrots along with creamy cannellini beans are all hallmark ingredients of this dish, and the region itself.
Why You’ll Adore This Recipe
There is a reason why there is an iconic Seinfeld episode revolving around soup. It’s truly a comfort food enjoyed by everyone around the world. It’s a budget friendly dish that is easy to prepare and perfect for sharing.
- Quick Cooking – Unlike some soup recipes that require a long cook time, this Tuscan kale and sausage soup uses quick cooking sausage as its main protein. Chopping your vegetables are going to be the most time consuming portion of this recipe.
- Meal Prep – There are certain dishes that are just made for eating on all week and this Tuscan kale and white bean soup is one of them. It also freezes well.
- Customizable – You can swap out the pork sausages in this recipe for either turkey or chicken sausage, or leave it out entirely.
- Family Friendly – One of the easiest ways to introduce new vegetables to kids is by adding them to a savory broth. This is a great way to convert even the kids at heart that kale can be tasty.
One of the great things about any soup recipe is how it’s basically juts a choose your own adventure. If you like a little more of one thing, add it, if you like your soup a little brothier, add more broth. It’s completely customizable. It’s all about using quality ingredients, and building as many layers of flavor as you can.
- Italian Sausage – I used a combination of sweet Italian sausage for the fennel and hot Italian sausage for the heat. You can use all of one or the other.
- Mirepoix – Onions, celery, and carrots bring the first layer of flavor.
- Aromatics – Shallots and garlic add a savory element and infuse more flavor into the broth, especially if you’re using storebought broth.
- White Wine – Helps deglaze the pan and adds a sunny acidic note. There isn’t much and the alcohol mostly cooks down but you can leave this out if you don’t cook with wine.
- Seasoning – Dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes are both used in the soup and also the parmesan croutons. Garlic powder is used in the croutons to give that garlicky kick without burning. Bay leaves give this soup a floral note and that all day cooked flavor.
- Diced Tomatoes – Fire roasted tomatoes add both sweetness and a little acidity.
- Russet Potato – Makes this soup hearty without making it feel heavy.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano – The Parmigiano-Reggiano rind infuses richness and umami into the broth while the freshly grated cheese gives the croutons a salty, nutty bite.
- Broth – Good quality storebought broth works fine for this recipe as you are building on the layers of flavor.
- Cannellini Beans – Creamy, buttery, and tender, these add a pack of protein and texture to this soup while making it feel hearty.
- Kale – Kale wilts down quickly in the hot broth while holding up well and maintaining its texture. Feel free to use curly leaf kale or Tuscan/Lacinato kale.
- Lemon Juice – Adds a sunny pop of flavor at the end. Make sure to serve with extra wedges!
- Fresh Parsley – Gives a fresh herbaceous note to both the soup and the croutons.
- Crusty Bread – Italian, French, or sourdough bread all work well for this recipe. This is a great way to use up stale bread.
- Olive Oil – Pick a rich and flavorful olive oil for tossing your bread in.
- Flaky Sea Salt – Gives a little finishing crunch to the croutons.
How to Make Tuscan White Bean Soup with Parmesan Croutons
This kale and sausage soup recipe is perfect for any level of chef. It’s easy to scale up and not only serve a crowd but use as freezer meals. The parmesan croutons can be made ahead of time and stored for up to a week.
- Brown – Hea a Dutch oven over medium heat and add your sausage. Use your spoon to break it up into small pieces as it browns. Once browned remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon and allow it to drain on a paper towel lined plate.
- Sauté – Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the sausage drippings. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the vegetables are beginning to soften and the onions are translucent. Add the shallots and garlic along with the oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook for a couple of minutes until the shallots are translucent.
- Deglaze – Add the white wine, making sure to scrape up and bits from the pan. Let cook for about four minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Simmer – Add the diced tomatoes, potatoes, and beans. Add the sausage back into the pot. Stir in your broth and then add the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat to medium-low, partially covering the pot with a lid. Let cook for an hour or until the vegetables are tender.
- Wilt – Remove the bay leaves and parm rind from the pot. Stir in the kale. Allow the kale to cook for five minutes or until it’s wilted. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice.
- Toss – Toss your bread cubes with the olive oil, parsley, garlic powder, oregano, and salt.
- Bake – Bake the croutons on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 8 minutes. Toss them, top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and bake for an additional five minutes or until golden and crispy. Sprinkle flaky sea salt over the top. Let cool completely.
- Serve – Top your soup with the croutons and serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a squeeze of lemon.
Soup of all varieties is completely personal and customizable. Here are a few ideas on how you can swap out ingredients and give the soup a different personality.
- Sausage – Swap out the pork sausage in this recipe for turkey or chicken sausage. You can also use plant based Italian sausage or leave it our completely. If leaving it out add an additional can of beans.
- Vegetables – Add your favorite vegetables to this ribollita inspired soup. Zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, and peas are all great options.
- Spinach/Cabbage – Swap out the kale in this recipe for another green such as spinach or cabbage.
- Crushed Tomatoes – For a thicker, heartier texture replace the diced tomatoes in this recipe for crushed tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes will give you the most sweetness.
- Creamy – To make this soup extra thick and creamy, drain and rinse an additional can of cannellini beans. Add them to a blender or food processor and blend until they are smooth. Pour the bean puree into the soup when adding the kale and allow it to warm through.
- Pesto – Stir in some pesto such as Lemon Arugula Pesto at the end.
Parmigiano-Reggiano vs. Parmesan
We all have our luxuries in life. Mine is always having a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano in the refrigerator and several rinds in the freezer. This cheese that is often referred to as the king of cheeses is relatively pricy. So the question is, is buying Parmigiano-Reggiano worth it? And can you use parmesan instead?
Both Parmigiano-Reggiano and parmesan use cow’s milk and a similar process of cheesemaking. However, Parmigiano–Reggiano is strictly dictated by DOP laws, or Denominazione di Origine Protetta. This cheese can only come from the areas of Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Mantua, and Bolognia.
Parmigiano-Reggiano can only be made from skimmed cow’s milk, salt, and rennet. Parmesan on the other hand, or domestic, American made parmesan, doesn’t have any restrictions on ingredients. This includes the rind. American parmesan often uses wax for the rind making it less than ideal for adding to sauces and soup while the entirety of Parmigiano-Reggiano is edible.
They also differ in the way that they are aged. Parmesan can be aged for as short of a period as ten months while Parmigiano-Reggiano is aged for a minimum of one year, up to three years. This gives it a more complexity, depth, and intense flavor.
That is not to say there aren’t tasty and delicious domestic parmesans. Many grocery stores and specialty stores carry great varieties. But always make sure that you are buying the chunk, and always, always hand grate your cheese. This will give you the best texture and flavor. And just skip the powdery green can.
Storage for Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup
Both the soup portion of this recipe and the parmesan croutons can be made ahead of time. For the soup, allow it to cool completely. Transfer it to an airtight container or freezer safe storage bags. The soup can be refrigerated for up to a week and it can be frozen for up to three months. If you freeze it allow it to gently defrost in the refrigerator over night.
The croutons can also be made ahead of time. If you keep them stored in an airtight container with as much air removed as possible, they will keep for up to a week and remaining crunchy if stored at room temperature.
Tips From the Beach
Whenever you buy Parmigiano-Reggiano, save the rinds! They add instant umami and depth of flavor along with nuttiness and a different layer of salt. They will last for up to six months in the freezer if stored in a freezer safe bag with the air removed. You can add them to both soups and also sauces like marinara and Rustic Tomato Sauce.
In addition to saving your rinds, always think about how you can add layers of flavor. In addition to using the Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, ingredients like acids such as wine, citrus, and vinegar, will wake up flavors along with sweating out your vegetables and lightly toasting your spices. It’s the little touches that maximize the ingredients themselves in every way.Print
Tuscan White Bean Soup with Parmesan Croutons
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 1x
Savory Italian sausage, tender vegetables, creamy white beans, and hearty kale make this ribollita inspired soup perfect for any night of the week.
Tuscan White Bean Soup
- 1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery heart stalks, including leaves, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
- 1 Russet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1 14.5 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 15.5 ounces cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 64 ounces chicken or bone broth
- 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, chopped
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon wedges for serving
- 6 cups Italian, French, or sourdough bread, 1/2″-1″ cubed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
- Flaky sea salt for finishing
Tuscan White Bean and Kale Soup
- Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add the sausage. Use your spoon to break it up as it cooks, allowing it to brown. Remove from the pot and transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Let cook for 5-8 minutes until the vegetables are becoming tender and the onions are translucent.
- Add the shallots and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes until the shallots are translucent. Season with oregano and crushed red pepper and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the wine and stir. Let cook for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the beans, potato, diced tomatoes, and sausage into the pot along with the bay leaves and parmesan rind.
- Add the broth into the pot and stir. Bring to a simmer and then lower the heat to medium-low and partially cover the pot.
- Let cook for an hour or until the vegetables are tender.
- Remove the parmesan rind and bay leaves.
- Add the kale and stir to combine. Cover and let cook for 5-10 minutes until the kale is wilted.
- Stir in the lemon juice and parsley.
- To serve, top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and croutons. Serve with a lemon wedge.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper, parsley, oregano, and garlic powder.
- Add the bread cubes to a bowl and pour the olive oil over the top. Toss to combine.
- Evenly spread the bread cubes onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake the croutons for 8 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle the parmesan over the top. Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until the croutons are golden brown and crispy.
- Sprinkle flaky salt over the top.
- Let cool completely and then transfer to an airtight container. They will keep for a week.
- You can use any combination of Italian sausage that you like. You can also use turkey sausage, chicken sausage, or plant-based Italian sausage. Or omit the sausage entirely. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to sauté vegetables if not using sausage.
- For a thicker, creamier soup, Add an additional can of cannellini beans. Transfer the drained and rinsed beans to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Pour into the soup when adding the kale to heat through.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 60
- Category: Soup
- Method: Simmering
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Tuscan white bean and kale soup, kale and sausage soup, ribollita, white bean kale and sausage soup, Tuscan kale and sausage soup, parmesan croutons