tuscan bean soup with cheddar sage pesto

bean soup

Yup, chilly weather and soup are a classic combo. No matter if you find Fall a bit of a downer (all that dying foliage and dark mornings) or if you love this time of year (cozy fireside evenings, jumping in the leaves) a big bowl of warm soup is a welcome comfort.

Many years ago I took a course on making breads from Dubrulle in Vancouver. BC. We made many amazing breads, but for some reason the part that has stayed with me is this soup, which we made to accompany all our breads.

This soup requires a bit of forethought as you have to soak the beans overnight or at least 8 hours, but as long as think of it first thing in the morning, you can still enjoy a beautiful bowl of this super duper soup by dinner.

Now don’t cheat yourself and use anything but cannellini beans (for at least the first time you try this recipe) as nothing really subs in for the aroma and flavour of a creamy Italian cannellini bean. (Cannellini beans or Italian white kidney beans, can be sourced at any good Italian deli or grocery.) Somehow the alchemy of this very simple list of ingredients, combines into something more than you’d ever think and the cheddar-sage pesto elevates it to one of my most zuppa favorita!

beans drained

soup ingredients

  • 1 cup dried cannellini beans (soaked overnight or at least from early morning). Note: Be sure to pour off the soaking water and use fresh water to put in the soup.
  • 4 cups of cool fresh water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • one bay leaf
  • a few cloves of peeled garlic
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • extra virgin olive oil - enough to cover the surface of the soup
  • 1 ½ cups of strained tomato puree ( I use Italissima brand)
  • fresh ground black pepper


soup directions

In a large pot (I use my enameled cast iron or “Dutch oven”) put the beans, 4 cups of fresh water, salt, bay leaf, garlic and honey and set on medium high heat.

Once boiling, turn down the heat and pour enough olive oil to mostly cover the surface.

Simmer on low heat for about 2 hours (covered).

beans and oil

When beans are tender to your liking, gently stir in the tomato puree and check the salt and pepper levels.

bean soup

Serve piping hot with a dollop of cheddar/sage pesto (recipe below).

pesto ingredients

  • 4-5 large leaves of sage, chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 large leaves of sage, chopped fine
  • 1/3 cup of walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup grated aged cheddar cheese (such as Balderson's)
  • salt and pepper


pesto directions

In a mortar, roughly crush all ingredients nice and chunky.

pesto ingredients