This hearty tuscan white bean, kale, pancetta, and polenta soup is so easy to make and is perfect to cozy up to on a cool fall day. Have it for dinner or pack it in a mason jar for lunch the next day! Plus a video + slow cooker instructions on how to make this.
Disclaimer: this recipe was written in collaboration with Loblaws. All opinions are my own. Thank you for always supporting the brands who support me to make this blog possible!
Wishing I was in Tuscany…
Not too long ago, Loblaws had invited me and a few other food lovers down to their Maple Leaf’s Garden location to experience a Made in Italy event. Chef Massimo Bruno was there to teach us how to make some of his go-to Italian dishes and shared with us how when he first came to Toronto, it wasn’t easy finding ingredients to make authentic Italian cuisine.
However, now he’s been able to visit his local Loblaws and have everything he needs right away. As someone who loves Italian food, I was excited to hear that (and excited to pick his brain about cooking). After an evening of teaching us how to make sauces to our own pasta, I was stuffed and went home to pass out in a food coma.
Hearty Tuscan White Bean, Kale, Pancetta, and Polenta Soup
It wasn’t until a week later that I was hit with a craving. It was cold out and I wanted something to hit the spot. I wanted something Italian because pasta is my usual go-to comfort food. However, I also wanted something cozy (yes, I’m very specific with my cravings) and after some mulling at work, I had decided it due to the sudden chill, it was sweater weather and soup season!
Luckily for me, I work right by a Loblaws so I swung on over after work and picked up some ingredients to make my hearty tuscan white bean, kale, pancetta, and polenta soup. And speaking of work, this I’m all about soup in a mason jar because it is so easy to bring to work! I find it easier to pack my soup in a mason jar because it fits perfectly into my purse compared to a large tupperware container. So if you’re looking for soup in a mason jar, this hearty tuscan white bean, kale, pancetta, and polenta soup is perfect for you!
How To Make This Soup Quickly: Dried Beans vs Canned Beans
For this hearty tuscan white bean, kale, pancetta, and polenta soup, I used dried beans. Using dried beans means I have to soak it the night before and then the next day, bring it to a boil and simmer for around 45 minutes. If you don’t have the time to do this, you can always use canned beans. I personally used dried beans because when the beans are simmering, I’m able to put garlic and sage into the liquid so the beans can take on more aroma and flavour. This is just a little extra step that adds another layer of flavour. If you don’t have time, it’s a-okay, we can just put extra garlic in the soup!
Substitutions for the Tuscan White Bean, Kale, Pancetta, and Polenta Soup
- Don’t want to use kale? Sub in spinach or other greens.
- Don’t want to use pancetta? Sub in prosciutto, bacon, or sausage.
- Don’t have polenta? Sub with cornmeal or blend some of the beans into a paste to thicken the soup. Or just skip it altogether if you don’t want your soup to be too thick.
- I used shallots because I had them on hand – sub with onions if you’d like.
- Use 100% stock or water, or 50/50 (like I did), or whatever ratio you prefer. I tested this recipe with 50/50 chicken to water so I can’t guarantee how the flavours will change with the ratio change or subbing with vegetable stock or beef.
- Running low on time and want to make this in a slow cooker instead? Dump everything into a slow cooker and call it a day!
What You Need For This Soup
- a large pot that can fit all the liquid, I used a 5.5 QT Staub cocotte that I got from Zwilling
- an immersion blender if you want to use the beans to thicken the soup
Tuscan White Bean, Kale, Pancetta, and Polenta Soup
- 500 grams white beans, if dried, follow instructions on the bag and soak overnight
- olive oil
- 2 shallots, (or one onion), diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 300 grams pancetta, cubed
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 small celery, diced
- 1 lb kale
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup polenta
- salt and pepper to taste
- If you're using canned beans, skip this step. After soaking overnight, follow the directions on the bag on how to cook them and add a crushed garlic, sage, salt, and pepper to the water. Drain, remove the sage, and set aside when finished.
Tuscan White Bean, Kale, Pancetta, and Polenta Soup
- So we’re going to start off with some olive oil in a hot pan. a good drizzle should be enough, you can add more after if needed.
- Add the diced shallots (or onion) into the pot and let it sweat for a bit before adding in your garlic.
- Next add the pancetta and let it cook up to your desired level of crispiness before adding the carrots and celery.
- Continuously stirring, wait for the vegetables to soften. Season with salt and pepper.
- Next add in your kale, then slowly add your stock, water, and beans. Bring the pot up to a boil and let it simmer until the kale is tender. (I added the liquid in stages to avoid an overflow)
- Slowly add as much or as little polenta as you'd wish until the soup is your desired level of thickness. It can be closer to porridge texture or liquidly - it's up to you.
- Optional: serve with a drizzle of olive oil, some black pepper, and some cheese on top.
Slow Cooker Method
- Add everything minus the kale into the slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours. When ready to serve, stir in the kale.
Want more soup ideas? Check out these soups:
- Mushroom Soup with Tuile Style Cheesy Croutons
- Traditional Québécois Pea Soup
- Easy Tomato and Garlic Soup