White Bean and Garlic Soup with Sage

Ok, fess up. Who started the myth that soaking beans with salt would make them tough?

It doesn’t. Soaking beans in salted water before cooking actually tenderizes the skin and infuses the whole bean with flavor. True.

White Bean Garlic and Sage Soup

Thank goodness that Keith checked out Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen from our local library, or I might still believe the myth. The ratio is simple – 3 tablespoons of salt dissolved into 4 quarts of water and 1 pound of dry beans. Soak the beans in the salty water overnight and rinse the next morning. Transfer the beans to the bowl of a slow cooker and add enough water to cover them by about an inch; cook on low until tender. Alternately, you can cook them in an oven safe pot with a tightly fitting lid in a slow oven (300 degrees F). Cooking time for dried beans swings wildly depending on the age of the beans. It could be 3 hours, up to 6 or more (test them often once you cross the 3 hour mark). This will yield about 6 1/2 cups of cooked beans. Note: Cooked beans freeze beautifully.

Enough about beans. I want to tell you about the sport that Keith and I have picked up this year, the one we wish we could do every day. And this soup, I want to tell you about that too.

This is a co-post with my dear friend in Italy, Giovanna, you remember her. Our e-mail conversation wandered off one day in to how much we both enjoy skiing and the foods we think of for ski days. I thought of soup. She thought of booze, and in the morning no less! Here’s what she wrote to me about her post:

I’m preparing “Vov” a kind of italian eggnog that is perfect when you go skiing and there is also another recipe that makes it stronger, we call it the “bombardino”, it means a little bomb!!! I used to drink it for breakfast … After that you can ski very fast !!!

I love Giovanna. How could you not?

It’s cross country skiing that Keith and I have taken up this year. We’re long time downhill skiiers (especially Keith – since he was 3!), but this is a whole new thing. The places it can take you! For example, to Paulina Creek Falls, in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, and on to Paulina Lake. To see these places that we know well in the heat of summer frozen and frosted in the grip of winter, it steals my breath.


The top photo is of Keith and I at Paulina Creek falls and the lower of our friend Tom and I at the frozen Paulina lake. This was just before a huge bald eagle flew over – I’m not kidding.

And since I’m posting skiing photos I love, just one more. The photo below is from our first day of skiing this year. He’s beautiful isn’t he?


A downside or a bonus of skiing, depending on how you want to look at it, is that you can stumble in to your house famished and chilled to the bone. But it’s nothing that a hot bath and a big bowl of soup can’t cure. And if you’ve started the day with a steaming cup of Vov, all the better.

White Bean and Garlic Soup with Sage
This recipe is inspired by a Tuscan White Bean and Garlic soup by Giada De Laurentiis.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 cups cooked cannellini beans (see post for directions on cooking them)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  1. Heat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add butter, olive oil, and minced shallot; cook and stir until shallots are softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add sage leaves and beans; stir to combine. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add garlic and simmer until garlic is soft, about 10 minutes more.
  3. Use a handheld immersion blender if you have one, to puree about half of the soup, leaving a few beans in tact. Be sure to puree the sage leaves; they're pretty potent if you end up with a whole leaf in your mouth.) If you don't have an immersion blender, use a standard blender, pureeing the soup in batches. Because the soup is hot, use a towel to cover the blender instead of the lid. Hot liquids in a lidded blender expand and will splatter out and could burn you.
  4. Once you've pureed your desired amount of soup and poured it back in the soup pot, add the heavy cream, pepper, and salt to taste. Heat until warm enough to serve, but not boiling.
  5. Serve with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  6. Makes 4 generous servings.

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  1. says

    Just a bowl of wonderful soup. I sometimes miss cold winter days here, at least a few, the weather has changed and there are almost no days of what you describe. But there´s always time for soup, and this is a wonderful one Marissa! I will start freezing cooked beans, so much better than cans.

  2. Colo says

    Very nice surprise to check in on a cold wet day in Virginia and see a great soup recipe! Thanks for sharing. I make a cannellini bean soup that I love, but this is a must try. Being just a wannabe chef (spend more time on the wine side :-) ), I have to ask on your direction: •6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled – Is that backwards? I always peel then smash :-)

    Once again it is a cold rainy night and not much going on here.

    Have a happy…

    • says

      Colo! So great to hear from you.

      No, not a mistake. It’s my favorite way to peel and chop garlic. With a sturdy chef’s knife, use the palm of your hand to give a garlic clove a firm whack. This will smash the garlic clove and make it a cinch to peel.

  3. says

    It’s true, I don’t soak beans. But your post made me rethink this strategy! Also: I have fond memories of my time in Italy and drinking Vov. Perfect for winter weather.


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