Zuppa di Fagioli e Crostini di Formaggio [Italian Bean Soup and Cheesy Garlic Crostini]

by cakeduchess on January 5, 2011 · 33 comments

Good soup is good for the soul. I am not a vegetarian by any means, but every once in a while, my body craves lots of greens. And beans! A good chunk of Italian bread. Maybe having that bread smothered with olive oil, garlic, and two cheeses. That also will alleviate my craving! A gorgeous chunk of organic kale. That could really excite me!

I like my cakes, don’t get me wrong. It can seem like all we eat is cakes here at the Duchess cucina. Our lives our centered around food. Not just sweets. We eat some pretty good meals at home. Simple foods that are not processed. I try to cook for my kids the way my parents cooked for me and my in-laws cooked for my husband.

My children are picky eaters. At their young age, they can distinguish between a good sauce and a not so good sauce. If we are somewhere and there is a not so good sauce, they wrinkle their noses and say very quietly, “Mommy, that is schiffo (disgusting).” I am not endorsing those kind of comments. As long as they don’t offend anyone, they have a right to their opinion. Quietly, of course. One of the benefits of raising them on good food is that they don’t ask too often for junk food.

Sometimes you have little obstacles and big obstacles to deal with in your life. I am a huge people watcher. Before I had my kids and I had exorbitant amounts of free-time, I would sit and I would watch. At my leisure. In coffee shops, book stores, and the airport. Even crossing the street. I always would look and wonder what a person is hiding behind their smile or their sad eyes. I loved to read people’s eyes. That was my favorite hobby. Now when I am in those said places, my eyes are all over my kids! It’s funny how now my daughter is picking up on subtle nuances in people’s expressions. She will say, “Mommy, that lady doesn’t look too happy.” And then I will give my imaginary scenario for what is troubling that person.

When someone is treating me not so nicely, I have learned to take a moment and ask myself, “What is really bothering this person?” Do I have to react? Is it worth it? Could it really be me that is annoying the heck out of them? Maybe this person just lost their job or a loved one. Maybe they had a not so pleasant call from the doctor’s office. Could it be they suffered recently a broken heart?
Our time here is undetermined. I plan on spending my time, whatever the amount is, enjoying each day something delicious with my family. With my husband, we will continue to teach our children what really is good food. Simple things like breaking a good loaf of bread at the table and having some olives that Nonna Teresa just sent us from Italy. Our olives. Olives from olive trees that my husband’s Nonno Giuseppe tended to his entire life in Calabria. A wonderful, heart-warming soup. And of course, delicious cake that I made with my little helpers. Those are precious moments. Moments with good food that is good for your soul.


(I make my bean soups with fresh beans and canned beans. This recipe is with canned beans. )

Zuppa di Fagioli


  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 garlic, smashed
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (I used 14 1/2 oz organic diced tomatoes)
  • 2 15 oz. cans cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 15 oz. cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 piece Parmeggiano Reggiano rind
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable base (I use Better than Bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 bunch kale stems and ribs discarded, leaves chopped
  • if you are adding pasta, 2 cups shell or ditalini pasta
  • Freshly ground pepper


Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, celery, red pepper flakes, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes; season with salt. Add 3 quarts water, the bay leaves and Parmigiano Reggiano rind. If you don’t have the cheese rind, the soup will still turn out fine! Don’t sweat it! Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes with pot slightly covered.

Uncover the pot and raise the heat to medium.  Add the beans and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  If you are adding pasta to the soup, add it now with the kale. If you are not adding pasta, just add the kale and cook stirring occasionally until the leaves are tender (about 7-10 minutes)

Remove the bay leaves and the cheese rind. Serve the soup in the bowls and add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Garlic and Cheese Crostini
1 loaf of Italian or French bread
3 cloves chopped garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup grated Gouda ( Asiago or mozzarella is also fine)
Slice the loaf in half and then slice it crosswise. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and some chopped garlic. I didn’t really measure the olive oil. You don’t want the bread drenched, just a nice coating of olive oil. Sprinkle the 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup shredded Gouda. Broil on top rack of oven for about 3-5 minutes. Keep a CLOSE eye on it because it will be ready really quickly Winking smile.

Thank you for stopping by today! I appreciate your comments. I love reading what you think of a certain recipe and it always makes me smile!!

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

notyet100 January 5, 2011 at 3:14 am

soup looks so yum ,gonna try this soon,.


Claudia January 5, 2011 at 3:28 am

This soup has my heart and I will definitely make it. That cake duchess sure knows food. I still people watch and I wonder. The saddest things I hear after a judgement has been made – and later explained is, “I didn’t know.” Someday I shall write a play “I didn’t know.” because we never know what is going on in someone’s life. But back to the soup – flavors that tame the winter beast and ingredients that soothe my soul.


Kate @ Diethood.com January 5, 2011 at 3:54 am

I would love a bowl of that soup right now – yum! And that bread…wooohooo…delicious!


sara @ CaffeIna January 5, 2011 at 3:57 am

I’m not a vegetarian either but I’m living on soups lately. Is there anything better than a good soup when it’s cold outside. And yes of course with crostini…i always want crostini in it hehe…very Italian :)


Roxan January 5, 2011 at 4:22 am

This soup looks lovely – I made one last night and i wish mine looked half as good as yours!
I also love people watching, I used to spend hours on Bruin Walk at UCLA people watching. A lot of times I start to make pretend stories about their lives (especially at the grocery store based off of what they are buying) but sometimes I try to stop myself :)


Amy January 5, 2011 at 4:37 am

January is my least favorite month, and I counter that with making soup. Yours look absolutely DELICIOUS, and I can’t wait to try it!

Confession: I didn’t know there was such a thing as vegetable base, but it makes perfect sense. :)


Magic of Spice January 5, 2011 at 4:43 am

Your crostini look so tempting, and this soup is amazing! Love that you have rosemary here :)


Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels January 5, 2011 at 4:45 am

Wow your soup is gorgeous!!! Seriously I would love to eat that every night. And the bread?! Oh my word, incredible! I so wish I could live closer to you not only to eat your food (which would be amazing!!!, yum!) but to hang out and talk with you.

I still can’t get over how delicious this soup and bread look. I NEED to make this. Soup and bread are two of my favorite foods in the world. :)


Paolo January 5, 2011 at 5:01 am

Great recipe and wonderful story, thanks for sharing :)


Tiffany January 5, 2011 at 6:21 am

Wow, not only a fantastic recipe and post, but your photos are mouth watering! Bravo!


Sandra January 5, 2011 at 6:52 am

That is one delicious soup, and bread..yum! I will dream about this tonight!:))


Hester aka The Chefdoc January 5, 2011 at 7:08 am

Thank you so much for sharing this soup! It’s been on the nippy side, to say the least, here in So Cal and soup is just what is needed! I make a soup just like this but start it off by rendering bacon in the pan and using its fat for the veggies, ::evil chuckle::

Your people-watching sounds so fun! I never did that when I was younger but I do do that now. That’s awesome that your daughter is picking up on it herself :-)


tastesbetterwithfriends January 5, 2011 at 7:16 am

I’d like nothing more than to sit on a terrace somewhere in Italy with you enjoying that soup while watching people as they come and go about their lives while enjoying your company:)


Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen January 5, 2011 at 9:43 am

How funny, I’m a people watcher too. I always wonder about what people must be thinking or why they do the things they do. I guess I just find human behavior fascinating. You have the right attitude, time is precious, enjoy it with your family and some good food!


Sommer J January 5, 2011 at 10:45 am

This bread and soup sounds like perfection! I am looking for a great bean soup! Unfortunately, find leafy winter greens in these parts are impossible. Will be one the look out. Looks fabulous. And my children are getting picky about food as well. Mama does everything from scratch, so they’re little snobs hehe.


Lizzy January 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

Your soup looks wonderful…but that bread!!!! YUM.

Nice reminder that we never know the internal struggles of everyone we cross…you are wise.


Amy Bakes Everything January 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I love soup with yummy bread…yours looks amazing. I love bean soup! When I read the title of this blog I read “blah-blah-blah something with cheese”…my Italian sucks, obvi!


Steph January 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm

What a hearty looking soup! The thing I love about this recipe is even though it fill your belly, it’s not too heavy. Don’t wanna be weighed down this early in the new year :)


Lindsay @ Eat, Knit, Grow January 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Oh that looks so delicious and hearty. That would warm me right up!!


Pretend Chef January 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I love your stories you tell with your recipes. Your soup and cheesy bread are crave worthy! This looks so yummy. Wishing I had this recipe yesterday before going grocery shopping to enjoy a bowl for this rainy day. Next time.


Susan January 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm

What a beautiful post … eat, drink, and be merry with the people you love ! Wonderfully satisfying soup and bread!


A Little Yumminess January 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Just returned from an Italian holiday and we were looking for a recipe for this! Saved and will be made soon!


Foodiva January 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Many bloggers who live in the northern hemisphere are posting heartwarming soup recipes now because of the change in weather. But I who live in the tropics would want to try out this bean soup of yours too because it truly looks lovely! Glad you’re teaching your kids about good food from an early age, they will be amazing gourmands when they grow up!


happywhennothungry January 5, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I just made this soup last night for dinner! I love how you use kale in your recipe. It makes it look prettier and is healthier. Thanks for sharing and I’ll definitely have to use kale next time!


blackbookkitchendiaries January 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm

i have this recipe bookmarked:)thank you for sharing this. it looks so yummy!


Christina January 5, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I love Zuppa di Fagioli! I love your attitude towards life and really enjoyed this post with it’s look at how you see things! Thank you for the recipe!


SMITH BITES January 6, 2011 at 12:11 am

OMG Lora – my mother’s family is from Calabria!! How weird is that? Yours is the first Italian family I’ve come across from Calabria – most know the region but none have come from there – wow! Isn’t kale the best thing ever in soup? Parm, bread – heaven. (((hugs)))


Raina January 6, 2011 at 12:28 am

Funny, just reading your post and then the comment above, my dad’s family is from Calabria, Coscenza to be precise. Small world. I laughed when you said your kids say schiffo:)

Your soup and bread sounds amazing. Definitely something to warm the body and soul.

I love your outlook on life. I love people watching too. I could sit on a bench in a public place for hours and just watch people.


A SPICY PERSPECTIVE January 6, 2011 at 2:00 am

We take a lot of pride in teach ing kiddos about food too. I figure its a gift they will appreciate their whole lives. I KNOW my two would love this!


Monet January 6, 2011 at 3:50 am

This post reminded me of why I love you and your blog so much. You are such an amazing wife and mother…and I know your kids already have fabulous taste. Quality over quantity is such an important lesson for us to learn in this culture. It is wonderful that you are giving your children the opportunity to taste and see and experience the really good stuff. And I am a people watcher too. There is nothing better than sitting outside for an afternoon. I try to imagine these different lives, and I leave with a deeper understanding for those around me. Thanks for sharing sweet heart. And oh yes…the soup looks great!


Kita January 6, 2011 at 5:00 pm

This has got to be one of my favorite soups ever. I will have to add this version to the list to try this winter. :)


Jamie January 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I’m a people watcher too and thanks to me so is my husband. In our old apartment we hade huge glass panes thatoverlooked the main street of Nantes and we’d spend hours watching people and wonder what their life was like.

This is a fabulous soup, perfect, warming comfort food and those crostini jazz it up so! Beautiful recipe and one I will try!


rosalyne carter March 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Your blog about Italian bean soup is really awesome. I love this recipe very much.I will definitely try this recipe. I like Italian culture, tradition, italian food etc . Last summer I have visited Italy as well as I have visited Italian restaurant. I have enjoyed Italian food very much.


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