home cooked dinners by the season

White Bean Fennel Soup

White Bean Fennel Soup

Serves 4 to 5 (about 12 cups)


  • 1 lb white beans (great northern or cannelini) covered by 2 inches of water and soaked overnight in the refrigerator
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups sliced or chopped fennel bulb (2 medium) reserving fronds (dill-like leaves) for garnish)
  • 2 cups chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 10 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I prefer low sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes, optional to taste
  • 12 to 16 oz Italian chicken sausage (I prefer Isernios brand), optional (see recipe directions)


Drain soaked beans.
In a medium size stockpot over medium heat, cook onion and fennel in olive oil until softened and light brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add vegetable stock, drained beans and thyme; bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat (broth should be lightly simmering) until beans are soft, about 45 minutes to 1 hour; season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes for spiciness, if desired. Sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds.
For pureed soup: transfer half of the soup to a food processor and puree to desired consistency, then stir back into the soup. Or keep the soup in the stockpot, and off the heat using an immersion blender, puree leaving some of the beans whole. Reheat soup if necessary.
For the sausage option: heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add sausage, breaking up into pieces and cook and stir until sausage is browned and cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir into soup.