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Enjoy a big bowl of Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup loaded with big, robust flavors and perfect with a side of crusty bread. Made with cannellini beans, coarsely chopped kale, chunks of sweet Italian sausage, lemon juice and pesto in Swanson® Chicken Broth, this easy, hearty, comforting soup is perfect for busy, chilly days.
We have been having some wild (for us) winter weather here in the California Bay Area the past couple of weeks. It’s been rainy, which is normal for a California winter, but it’s also been cold (for us) with temperatures in the 30’s!
I know that’s nothing compared to the polar vortex that a lot of the rest of the country deals with, but it was definitely a shock to wake up the other morning, see the nearby mountains covered in snow, and realize that, if we wanted to, we could drive up to it in about 20 minutes rather than the typical 2+ hour drive to the Sierras. I don’t know about you but all this frigid winter weather makes me want soup—and lots of it!
Hearty, loaded soups are one of my favorite things to make on chilly winter days, especially when I make them in the slow cooker. Especially like this filling Tuscan white bean soup. It requires simple prep that is pretty much just chopping a few veggies. Even the sausage cooks in the broth, so there are no extra pans being used to brown the meat, which means less cleanup, too!
Swanson® Chicken Broth is 100% Natural and the perfect building block for a savory, flavorful soup base, as well as many other dishes. Check out their site for even more recipe inspiration! Some cooks swear by using homemade chicken broth, but I swear by using Swanson® Chicken Broth. The flavor is amazing, it saves me so much time and energy, and I always have it stocked in the pantry. This post is sponsored by Swanson®, but it’s a product I have used and loved for years.
The flavors get kicked up a notch with the addition of a little lemon juice and my secret ingredient: a little bit of pesto stirred into the broth. I love adding kale to soups, too, because it holds up instead of wilting to soggy nothingness. Both curly kale and lacinto kale (also known as dinosaur kale) work well in Tuscan white bean soup, providing added texture and veggie goodness.
Are cannellini beans and white beans the same thing?
There are quite a few different “white beans,” so it can be confusing to know whether you are getting the “right” kind of bean for Tuscan white bean soup.
The easiest answer is that, really, almost any kind of white bean will work in this recipe. I prefer cannellini beans, which are the largest of the white beans and are sometimes called “white kidney beans,” because of their familiar kidney bean shape. They are a little heartier than Great Northern or Navy beans, but any of the three work well for Tuscan white bean soup.
Cannellini beans can be difficult to find dried, so I usually just use canned beans and rinse and drain them before adding to the soup.
How to Make Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup
- Chop carrots and onion, and mince garlic cloves.
- Add the veggies to a large slow cooker along with pesto, red pepper flakes, and Swanson® Chicken Broth. Cover tightly with lid and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Remove lid and add in crumbled or chopped sweet Italian sausage with casings removed, coarsely chopped kale, rinsed and drained beans, and lemon juice and zest. Cover again and cook on high for 30-45 minutes until sausage is cooked through.
- Serve in big bowls with French bread on the side.
Tips for Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup
- You could use any white bean if you happen to have Great Northern beans or navy beans instead. If you prefer, you could add dried beans at the beginning of the cooking time instead of canned beans. You don’t even need to soak them first since they will cook in the hot broth over a long period of time, softening them perfectly.
- If you wanted to brown the sausage first, you certainly could. It doesn’t change the flavor, in my opinion, but it does add a little bit of color.
- I find that the easiest way to add the sausage is to buy the kind that doesn’t come in casings. Then I just place the sausage on a cutting board and “chop” it to break it up into small pieces. That makes it super easy to add to the soup in small chunks. This works just as well with sausages that come in casings, you just have the extra step of peeling the casings off first.
- If you don’t have pesto on hand or have a nut allergy, you could use fresh or dried Italian herbs like rosemary and thyme instead. A couple tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs or a couple of teaspoons of dried herbs will give a wonderful flavor to this soup in place of the pesto.
- Taste the soup before adding salt and adjusting to your tastes.
More Soup Recipes You’ll Love
- Cheesy Taco Soup
- Chicken Avocado Lime Soup
- Leftover Turkey Wild Rice Soup
- Zuppa Toscana (another soup inspired by the flavors of Tuscany!)
- Creamy Irish Leek and Potato Soup
- Easy Minestrone Soup
- Chicken Noodle & Dumpling Soup
- One Pot Lasagna Soup
Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup
- 2 carrots diced
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup basil pesto
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- 8 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth
- 30 ounces cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or Great Northern or Navy beans) 2 cans
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage casings removed
- 1 bunch kale roughly chopped with stems removed
- 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice + 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prep the vegetables by chopping the carrots and onion, and mincing the garlic cloves.
- Add the chopped vegetables to a large slow cooker along with pesto, red pepper flakes, and Swanson® Chicken Broth. Cover tightly with lid and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Remove lid and add in sweet Italian sausage, breaking it up into small bite-size chunks. Stir in kale, rinsed and drained cannellini beans, and lemon juice and zest.
- Cover again and cook on high for another 30-45 minutes until sausage is cooked through and soup is hot.
- Serve with Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top. Leftover soup can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.