Cannellini Bean Soup with Fennel and Swiss Chard

The holiday season can be tiring!  This warm, hearty, veggie-packed soup helped us recharge and reset after so many heavy, meat-filled holiday meals.  It’s the perfect meal to start the new year.  For this soup and many others I make, I use my homemade chicken stock.  I tweaked New York Times Cooking’s slow cooker version to come up with this recipe.


  • 1 pound cannellini beans (dried)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly diced
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 celery stalks with leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Tops of 3 celery stalks with leaves
  • 2-3 Fennel bulb stalks
  • 4 Swiss chard leaves, center removed
  • Rind of an 8 oz. block of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


  1. Pick through the beans to remove any foreign objects and rinse them.  Place them in a bowl and add double the amount of water.  Cover the bowl and allow the beans to soak for at least 8 hours (or overnight).
  2. Drain the beans and place them in a large pot.  Discard the water they soaked in.  Add the chicken stock, Parmigiano Reggiano rind, dried basil, rosemary sprigs, bay leaf , the celery stalk tops,  and the fennel stalks.  If you have cooking twine, you can tie the stalks and rosemary sprigs together for easy removal at the end.
  3. Set to medium/high heat and bring to a boil.
  4. Meanwhile, chop the onion and fennel bulb, mince the garlic, and slice the celery.  When chopping the fennel, cut away the base and cut off stalks, which can be saved for about a week or so in the fridge and used for something else.
  5. Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the onion and cook for a minute or two.  Then add the fennel, followed by the celery and the garlic.  Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  After a couple of minutes, add the white wine and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the onion, fennel and celery mixture to the beans, which should be boiling by this time.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  7. Taste to make sure the beans are tender enough and salt is adequate.  Add fresh ground pepper.  Remove the celery stalk tops, fennel stalks, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs and Parmigiano Reggiano rind.
  8. Cut away the center part of the Swiss chard and chop the leaves roughly.  Add the chopped leaves to the soup.
  9. Just before serving, sprinkle each bowl of soup with freshly grated cheese.  If you have fresh basil on hand you may add it as a garnish.


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