Slow Cooker Cannellini Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary
This hearty Slow Cooker Cannellini Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary is packed with flavor, healthy protein and fiber, and only contains a handful of ingredients!
Today’s recipe is in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill.
Almost three years ago, I was sitting in a beautiful cobblestone square in Naples, Italy eating one of the most comforting soups that I’d ever had.
It was a classic Italian cannellini bean soup. The soup itself was deceivingly simple, flavored with bits of crispy pancetta and a glug of spicy olive oil, and packed with creamy, tender cannellini beans.
It was one of those meals that you don’t forget quickly – the setting notwithstanding – but a wonderful reminder to keep things simple in the kitchen whenever possible. Great quality ingredients don’t need and shouldn’t be covered up with fancy garnishes or extraneous flavors.
Three years later, it was also the inspiration behind today’s slow cooker cannellini bean soup, which I’m very excited to share with you today.
The slow cooker cannellini bean soup only has a handful of ingredients – I love it!
While it would be delicious in vegetarian form, this soup does contain a bit of bacon (a slightly easier substitute to Italian pancetta, but feel free to use that too!) to give the soup a touch of smokiness. The fresh rosemary contributes a ton of flavor to this soup as well, so don’t be tempted to skip it.
Diced leek and celery are quickly sautéed in the rendered bacon fat (the bacon is going in there too – just two strips!) and combined with dried bay leaves, a hefty sprig of fresh rosemary, an entire pound of Bob’s Red Mill heritage cannellini beans, and chicken broth. Yes, that’s it!
I’ve been using Bob’s Red Mill products for years and years – and am so proud to be working with them this year on lots of fun, new recipes for you guys!
One of my kitchen goals this year is to cook with more dried beans and lentils. After all, 2016 is the year of legumes, right?
Dried beans take a bit more time and preparation, but are one of the most affordable, flavorful, and delicious sources of protein, fiber, and nutrients that you can get your hands on!
It is my opinion that they don’t get the credit and love that they deserve in the kitchen – and I’m hoping that I can showcase them in more recipes this year.
One of the most nutritious parts of dried beans is the liquid that they cook in (avoid throwing it out whenever possible!). Most of the nutrients from dried beans are transferred to the cooking liquid itself – and in this soup you get it all!
This means that you can do the prep for this recipe (just 20-25 minutes worth!) in the morning, throw everything in the slow cooker, and come home from work with dinner waiting for you on your kitchen countertop.
Once the soup is ready, I like to puree a large ladleful of it in a food processor and then add this back into the rest of the soup soup. It adds a bit of creaminess to the broth – but you keep all the lovely texture of the cooked cannellini beans!
Now, that’s something to celebrate!
Slow Cooker Cannellini Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary
- 1 lb (16 oz) Bob’s Red Mill Heritage Cannellini Beans rinsed and picked over
- 2 ounces (about 2 strips) bacon finely diced
- 2 large leeks, white and light green parts only sliced lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 large celery stalks diced (roughly 1 cup)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 large hefty sprig of fresh rosemary plus more for garnishing
- 1½ quarts (48 oz; 6 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
- For food safety reasons, you will need to boil the dried cannellini beans for 10 minutes before prepping the soup. Place the dried beans in a colander and rinse well. Transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook the beans, stirring once or twice, for at least 10 minutes. This boil time helps to deactivate the naturally occurring toxin, Phytohaemagglutini, that can occur in some variety of dried beans. Drain the beans in a colander and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
- If you own a stovetop-safe slow cooker insert (alternatively, you can do this in a normal saucepan or skillet and transfer it to the slow cooker): Heat the insert over medium heat. Add the diced bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon is crispy and most of the fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon, leaving the rendered fat behind, to a small bowl.
- Add the sliced leeks to the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Sauté the leeks, stirring occasionally, until they are just beginning to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the diced celery, dried bay leaves, and fresh rosemary sprig, and sauté for an additional 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer the insert to the slow cooker base. Add the cooked bacon, boiled and drained cannellini beans, and chicken broth. Stir together. Cook on high heat for 5 to 6 hours, or until the cannellini beans are cooked, tender, and very fragrant. Remove the dried bay leaves and any tough rosemary stalks, if present.
- Transfer one large ladleful of soup (roughly 1 cup) to a small food processor blender and puree until mostly smooth. Transfer the pureed soup back into the slow cooker with the remaining soup and stir. Serve hot with a glug of high-quality extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh chopped rosemary.
Tips for Success:
- If you’re having difficulty slicing the bacon, try placing it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes! Frozen or very cold bacon will make for easier slicing and dicing.
This post is sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. Thank you so much for supporting brands that I love and use in my kitchen!
36 Comments on “Slow Cooker Cannellini Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary”
When making the crockpot cannellini beans do I boil to remove toxins first followed by soaking ?
Absolutely delicious!!! I’m vegetarian, so I used vegetable broth and substituted tempeh bacon. I had navy beans on hand, so used those. SO good!!!! I will make this over and over this winter!!!!
Great taste, simple to make! Added garlic, and carrot, plus some fresh thyme, and followed a commentators tip to add some fresh-squeezed lemon juice at the end.
Terrific recipe! My husband and toddler love it. It’s by far her favourite soup. I must have made the recipe over 50 times.. No joke!
I have never been able to find cannalenni beans specifically but have had success with a great Northern white beans and small white beans (we prefer the smaller beans as there is less cooking time). I pre soak the bean for 24 hours or more and change the water at least once to reduce the gases. I’ve always used the slow cooker on the high setting and have never had a problem with getting sick.
I also have a tasty pork tip.. After roasting a ham with the bone on, I’ll save the bone and ham juices (the bone and juices can also be frozen and used at a later date when making the soup). Instead of using bacon I add the ham bone and once the soup is done I shred the ham into the soup. The bone adds a beautiful depth of flavour!
I made this soup and loved it, I used sausage instead of bacon
Are these anything like kidney beans?
“many dried beans, including kidney beans, should never be cooked solely in a crockpot or slow cooker because they will never reach a high enough temperature for a long enough period of time to destroy enough of the phytohaemagglutinin to make the beans safe to eat.”
Hi, so, I just did some more research and honestly, there is a lot of conflicting information out there. I am going to adapt the recipe instructions to boil the beans for 10 minutes before adding to the slow cooker. Red kidney beans have the highest levels of the toxin – most other beans including cannellini have about 1/3 of the quantity and since slow cookers can vary in terms of maximum temperature, it can be hit or miss. In general, the biggest worry if from eating undercooked beans – which this recipe does not produce, but to be safe, I will change the recipe. I will say that you should NOT make this recipe if you are not comfortable, similar to the idea of eating raw eggs.
can you use canned beans?
You could but the whole purpose of using a slow cooker is that you’re using dried. The method would need to be adjusted and I don’t think the flavor is as good, because the bean broth is everything!
This recipe was yummy! I made several variations to the recipe due to avoiding the grocery store during lock down but I feel like no matter what you do it will be great! I had leeks and celery but only canned beans. I don’t do bacon but used some butter instead. Herbs and salt for a winning combo. Only had one can of canelli beans so finished it off with an extra can of butter beans. Oh! And I just discovered Campbell’s chicken broth with white wine! This will be made again in our house for sure.
A generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice (into each bowl as you are serving up), really lifts this to something special.
Do you think I could use canned beans instead? I don’t have a slow cooker.
You could make a stovetop version with canned beans, but they don’t have quite as much flavor and the texture wouldn’t be the same. This is a really simple soup, so it really benefits from dried beans, otherwise I think you might need to add some other spices or seasonings to make a bit more exciting. You’d need to completely adapt the method (which you’re welcome to do!) though, and unfortunately I can’t provide a quick or simple answer to that in a comment without testing. But you’re always welcome to adapt and play!
I have somewat the same question – i’m slow cooking my cannellini right now, but want to make this soup. Should I keep some of the liquid from the slow cook of the beans or is there something else I should do? THANKS!!
Hi! Unfortunately there is no way to speed up the cooking of dry beans from scratch unless you use a pressure cooker (or had soaked them prior to cooking for a long time).
Hey Laura – I want to try this in the time of quarantine – what I have on hand (trying to clean out the pantry a bit) is a 15 bean mixture – would that work for this recipe? The bag is a beautiful mix of colors! This sounds simple, but very delicious for lunches on these long, home bound days! Any advice is much appreciated!
Hi Jennifer! Thanks for your comment. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work, but you might need to check them earlier because they will probably cook faster than dried cannellini beans (I’m guessing the mix is smaller?) and you may have to add more broth? Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but I’d need more details to have a better idea of how to adapt it.
I normally use the instant pot when Cook dry beans . I use the Bean/ chilli setting . It comes out very well . I just soaked the white beans tonight. Planning to cook tomorrow in the instant pot..
This was really good! I made it as written except I couldn’t find dried cannellini beans so I used great northern beans instead. Very yummy for a cold Chicago winter!
Awesome! Thanks for the recipe feedback!
Good recipe to build on. We added salt, fresh parsley and thyme about 30 mins before serving trying to impart flavor into it. I also added spicy Italian sausage. If I had to do it over again I would use full salt chicken stock and bundled sprigs of freshrosemary, thyme and parsley. I would top with fresh parmesan and serve with a whole grain bread as well. It’s very simple but needs to be built on to be served.
Hi Laura! Can you cook on medium or high heat for a shorter amount of time? Like 5-6 hours?
When do I add the salt and pepper? Just to taste at the end?
Hi Courtney! I feel nervous specifying salt quantities, because salt density varies GREATLY by brand (I actually just wrote a post about this. But! I would recommend adding some as it is cooking (1/4 teaspoon kosher salt – I use Diamond Crystal brand) and adding more to taste once it is done. The bacon and broth contributes salt, so it doesn’t need as much as you might think!
Sorry,I should have included more details – the 15 bean mix is a variety of sizes. There is one large bean and the rest are mostly medium size – there is a yellow bean that is kind of small. If it would work, I would love to try it! Any advice is much appreciated!
Is there a version of this to not use the slow cooker?
I really want to make this recipe but don’t own a slow cooker.
This looks delish btw!
Hi Jessica! Totally understand the dilemma, because I didn’t own a slow cooker until last year. Ok, so I haven’t made this particular soup on the stove before – BUT I’m pretty sure you could do it this way. It will require soaking the dried beans overnight. So, I would cover and soak the dried cannellini beans in water for 6-8 hours. Follow the rest of the recipe using a large soup pot (cook the bacon, add the leeks, etc.) and then just add the pre-soaked, drained cannellini beans to the pot along with the stock. You’ll have to bring it to a boil, lower to a simmer, and then cook it for probably 45 minutes to 1 hour (or until the beans are tender). Please let me know if that works, because I’d love to know and be able to add a note to the recipe for others!
That makes sense and I will definitely try it and let you know how it goes!
Thank you for responding so quickly.
This soup reminds me of the white bean soup my mom used to make, just a tad more sophisticated with the rosemary. 🙂 We ate it as main dish with fried potatoes and cornbread. #allthecarbs
Looks delicious and super healthy! On my never-ending list!
This soup looks amazing Laura! I love the addition of the bacon and rosemary. So much flavor in such a simple recipe!
Thank you so much Danae!
Love the addition of the fresh rosemary and how it totally brightens the entire recipe, Laura! I think I’d grow an entire lawn of just rosemary if it was possible, although I’m sure my husband would be quick to veto that idea…
Thanks Melanie! Haha! I totally agree. I LOVE rosemary and wish I could have it fresh on hand at all times!
Only 6 ounces of Chicken broth for a pound of beans? That doesn’t seem enough.
Yikes!! Thank you for catching that mis-type Linda – that was supposed to be 6 CUPS (not ounces!). So sorry for the confusion – the recipe has been updated!