Recipe: Simple White Bean and Garlic Soup


Some great works of art are simple—they focus attention only on what needs to be said.

Picasso’s Dove of Peace is a powerful symbol of  hope because the stark simplicity makes the drawing itself appear to take flight. peace picasso

The music of Erik Satie or Henryk Górecki, or Catch the Wind by Donovan captivate because the musical message is uncluttered.

So it is in cooking as well. Nothing symbolizes the guileless goodness of home and family like a simple soup. And soup doesn’t get much simpler than this. 5 ingredients, 15 minutes. Italian inspired. It reminds me of autumn as we suffer through end-of-the-summer heat.

Use canned beans if your desire for soup is sudden; if you have time to plan, dry beans are better. You can gussie this up by adding rosemary, sage, or bitter greens but it doesn’t need it. Just beans, onions, garlic, parsley, and some olive oil.

And please don’t add cream. I’m on the warpath against adding cream to most soups. It just kills the flavor. The beans themselves provide all the creamy texture you need.

If you’re using dry beans, the cooking water is your broth. With canned beans (drained and rinsed), use a light chicken or vegetable broth.

Recipe is below the fold.

Simple White Bean and Garlic Soup

Serves 4 as a large side dish

4 cups cooked white beans
1/2 medium onion chopped
3 cups of bean cook water
1/2 cup good olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley

In a little olive oil, saute onions and garlic until soft.
Add the beans and the water and simmer covered for 15 minutes
Blend the soup with a food processer or hand blender until it has the consistency you want.
Season with salt and pepper and ladle into bowls.
Finish by sprinkling generous amounts of parsley on top and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve with some toasted bread.


  1. It does sound very simple and quick to make, which is a pretty unique feature for the soup. And I’m with you on the cream – outside of ice cream, cream is not a part of my cooking vocabulary.

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