Tuscan bean soup with pasta, fennel and sausage is a fabulous meal that’s perfect for busy weeknight. Enjoyed with crusty bread and perhaps a glass of wine, this quick and budget friendly recipe is reminiscent of a dish you might find in a Tuscan village kitchen.
After a hectic day, why not enjoy a comforting, hearty bean soup made with ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen. My husband declared that this was the best Tuscan bean soup that he had ever eaten. What makes it special is that fresh fennel is cooked with the Italian sausage and beans creating a wonderful depth of flavor to the soup. With some crusty bread to mop it all up with, it is a satisfying and delicious meal you should try.
As with most recipes, you can make this soup with any white beans you have in your pantry but I like to use cannellini beans as Tuscany is famous for them. They are one of the ingredients you will find in “Tuscan cucina povera“, honest peasant cooking where a few, poor ingredients are turned into delicious, nutritious and filling dishes. You can also decide whether you want to serve the soup brothy or slightly thicker and creamier by mashing some of the beans while they cook. However you wish to prepare it, top off each bowl of soup with a generous splash of extra virgin Italian olive oil and some grated cheese.
Pasta With White Bean, Fennel And Sausage (Zuppa di fagioli toscani con pasta, finocchio e salsiccia)
Serves 4, adjust recipe accordingly
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 links of Italian sausage, ( I use hot) casing removed and crumbled into small pieces
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 small fennel bulb, stalks removed, quartered, core removed and diced
- 3 -4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
- a pinch of red chili flakes (optional)
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1/2 c. white wine
- 2 15 oz. cans of cannellini beans (any white bean such as navy or great northern may be substituted )
- 2 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 c. (about 6 oz.) small pasta, such as ditalini or tubettini
- a few pieces of fennel fronds for garnish (optional)
- drizzle of extra virgin olive oil for additional flavor, (optional)
- grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the sausage, breaking it into small pieces then cook until starting to brown. Add the onions and fennel and sauté until they have softened. Add the garlic, rosemary, chili flakes and bay leave and cook another minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until reduced slightly. Add 1 of the cans of cannellini beans, chicken stock, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Mash some of the beans, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.
In the meantime, cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions until just barely tender, then drain well and add to the beans. Add in the additional can of beans and let simmer until the pasta is al dente. Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and taste for additional seasoning, if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with reserved fennel fronds, if using, and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, if you wish. Serve with a topping of grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese at the table.
I refer to this as a “pantry meal” as the soup is made with ingredients, which with the exception of a fresh fennel bulb, are usually found in your pantry.
Uncooked fennel has a mild licorice flavor and crunchy texture but when cooked the flavor is delicate and soft.
I use canned beans for a quick meal but if you plan ahead, you can soak dried beans overnight, cook and the use 3 or 4 cups in this recipe.
For a creamier, thicker soup, use a wooden spoon or potato masher to partially mash the first can of beans while cooking. For a thinner soup, add all the beans at once and do not mash any of them.
If your reheat this soup, add a little chicken broth or water,Notes From The Kitchen
Every spoonful of this richly flavored soup is comforting and delicious. It’s quick and easy, perfect for a last minute meal and made with ingredients you may already have in your kitchen. With a glass of wine and crusty bread, it’s like a meal you might be asked to share in an Italian farmhouse kitchen in the Tuscan hillside.