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Venetian White Bean Soup with Guanciale

Venetian White Bean Soup with Guanciale

Adapted from Nigella Lawson. This recipe uses a multicooker like an instant Pot but also uses a sauté pan, taking advantage of the Indian method known as tadka to spend time cooking aromatics and spices while the beans are cooking in the pressure cooker and then adding them to the beans after they are cooked.

Course Entree, Stew
Cuisine Italian
Keyword legumes, raisins


For the beans:

  • 1 lb dried small white beans, such as Great Northern or Marcella (Borlotti would also work but not be white)
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 pinch coarse sea salt
  • water

For the onions:

  • 10 oz guanciale, cubed
  • 1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large shallots, diced
  • coarse sea salt to taste
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 t dried thyme
  • 1/2 t ground cumin

To bring the soup together:

  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1-2 T white balsamic vinegar, to taste
  • salt to taste
  • chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • crusty bread for serving


Start the beans cooking:

  1. Rinse the dried beans and place them in the multicooker. Add the diced shallot, smashed garlic cloves and extra virgin olive oil.

  2. Cover the beans and aromatics with water by 2-3 inches. Set the pressure cooker function to high pressure and set it for 25-30 minutes.

  3. Work on the aromatics for the soup while the beans cook. When the beans are done, let it naturally release for 10-15 minutes--or completely if time is not a factor, but if time is a factor and you need to make sure your beans cooked through, wait 10-15 minutes and then turn the valve to release the pressure. You can keep adding 5-10 minute increments of high pressure cooking until they are done.

Preparing the aromatics:

  1. Using a medium-large sauté pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and add the cubed guanciale over medium heat. Slowly cook the cubes, rendering some of their fat and crisping up the rest. Turn and move the cubes around the pan to prevent scorching.

  2. When the guanciale is cooked, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off (but reserve) all but 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan.

  3. Add the shallots with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until translucent.

  4. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes. If needed, add a little of the reserved pork fat back into the pan.

  5. Add the dried thyme and cumin and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes.

  6. When the onions are caramelized golden brown, turn the heat off and wait for the beans to be ready (they should be ready at similar times).

Bringing the soup together:

  1. When the beans have cooked through and the pressure has released, add the golden raisins into the beans.

  2. Turn on the sauté function to low or medium, just enough to simmer the soup. Keep stirring so it does not scorch or stick.

  3. Scrape the cooked onion mixture into the beans.

  4. Let the soup simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

  5. When you are ready to serve the soup, add the white balsamic vinegar and then taste the soup for more salt or white balsamic vinegar.

  6. Serve the soup garnished with the cooked guanciale cubes and chopped parsley and crusty bread on the side.

Recipe Notes

If, like me, you are still acclimating yourself to a pressure cooker, this is a great site with advice about cooking beans. How long it will take can be affected by age of the dried beans and even what kind of water you have (I have well water).