Instant Pot Tuscan Bean Soup with Bacon

A close up shot of Tuscan Bean Soup in a bowl, topped with parmesan cheese and crostini.
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Instant Pot Tuscan Bean Soup with Bacon

WOW. I love how easy it is to cook beans in my Instant Pot – no soaking of the beans is involved! As long as you use the Instant Pot’s natural release once the beans have cooked under pressure, you will have perfectly tender beans every time. #InstantPot #Soup

Picture collage featuring two up close pictures of Tuscan Bean Soup with Bacon in a bowl.

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I’ve never used dry beans much in my cooking…..until NOW that is! My Instant Pot has completely changed all that.

Once I figured out how to cook dry beans under pressure in my Instant Pot, I’ve never looked back.  I’ve also been surprised at the difference between the consistency of cooked dry beans vs. cooked beans from a can – they are completely different in flavor and texture.  You don’t believe me until you try it for yo-self, so please do it!

What Ingredients Will I Need for Making Instant Great Northern Bean Soup?

  • Dry Great Northern Beans

Because I typically can’t find dry Cannellini beans in my area of the country, I use Great Norther white beans when I make this dried bean soup recipe. Cannellini beans are often referred to as white kidney beans.  They are a large, kidney-shaped bean with a meatier flesh than Navy or Great Northern beans. You have probably seen Cannellini beans in minestrone soup.

  • Bacon

I like to use center cut bacon, but you can use any type that you prefer.  I’ve always got bacon on hand in my freezer since it freezes so well and also thaws super quickly.

  • Onions and Garlic

These are the aromatics of this soup, providing the flavor foundation to build on.  If you don’t have an onion and garlic on hand, you can substitute 1 Tbs. dehydrated onion flakes and 1 tsp. granulated garlic in their place.

  • Thyme, Basil and Rosemary

These dried leaves are the spices that define this Tuscan bean soup – traditional Italian seasonings and flavors.

  • Tomato Paste

A key ingredient in this soup, tomato paste can provide a nice rich-ness to this soup if you take the time to brown it a bit along with the other ingredients before adding the liquid and pressurizing in the Instant Pot.

  • Chicken Broth (May Substitute Vegetable Broth)

You will use chicken broth for cooking the beans in the first step of this recipe, and also as the base of this bacon and white bean soup.  Feel free to use vegetable broth or beef broth, if you so desire.

  • Whole or Diced Tomatoes with Juice

Tuscan bean soup wouldn’t be traditional if it didn’t include tomatoes.  If using the whole tomatoes, place them into a bowl and crush them with your fingertips before adding them to the Instant Pot to cook.

  • Fresh Baby Spinach or Baby Kale

Be sure to stir in the spinach in at the very end of the cooking time. It will cook VERY quickly.

  • Heavy Cream

This is an optional ingredient.  I like to stir just a splash of cream into this soup to give it added creaminess.

Helpful Tips for Making Instant Pot Tuscan Bean Soup with Bacon 

  • Why does the recipe instruct to bring the bean soup to a bowl before locking the Instant Pot lid into place to pressurize? 

This little insider tip really helps your Instant Pot pressurize much more quickly, especially when your pot is very full of ingredients such as when you make a soup like this one.  Using the saute setting on the Instant Pot will allow you to bring the contents to a boil in just a minute or two, before you lock the lid into place to pressurize the contents.

  • If I don’t have an onion or garlic cloves on hand, what can I substitute?

Great question.  For the onion, substitute 1 Tbs. dehydrated onion flakes and for the garlic, substitute 1 tsp. granulated garlic (or garlic powder).  I often do this in a pinch and it works just fine.  You could actually add these ingredients when you stir the spices into the bacon.

  • If I do a quick release instead of a natural release when cooking dry beans in my Instant Pot, what will happen? 

You will likely have chewy beans, or even beans that have a rather crunchy interior – yuck.

Using the natural release whenever you cook animal proteins (meat) or vegetable proteins (beans) in your Instant Pot is a very key step, since this allows the ingredients to finish cooking a bit from the residual heat in the pot, but also to let the fibers of the ingredients relax so the eating experience provides a nice and tender one.  Nobody wants to eat beans that are crunchy or meat that is tough!

  • The recipe says a substitution of pancetta for the bacon is okay.  What is pancetta, anyway? I’m not familiar with this ingredient.  

Pancetta is traditional Italian bacon.  Unlike our American bacon, it is cured but not smoked, so the flavor and texture are quite different.

A tan bowl full of Instant Pot Tuscan Bean Soup with Bacon, garnished with two crostini on top and a spoon on the side.

Are there any special tools I’ll need for making Instant Pot bean soup? 

Obviously, an Instant Pot! I prefer the 6-quart Instant Pot for my cooking, but if you have a large family, you may want to consider the 8-quart Instant Pot.

  • For cutting the bacon and spinach, I love using a pair of kitchen shears to make short work out of this task.

When dicing the onions and slicing the carrots, I prefer a large wooden cutting board (so I’ve got lots of room for chopping, dicing and slicing) and a nice sharp 8-inch chef’s knife.  (Yes, this is a pricey kitchen tool, but it’s a life-time tool – if you always hand wash it, keeping it out of the dishwasher, it will last for years and years to come.) I use this knife straightener every time I get ready to chop vegetables – a straight blade definitely makes a difference in how good your knife slices and chops.

Other Instant Pot Soup Recipes to Enjoy:

Printable Recipe for Making Instant Pot Tuscan Bean Soup with Bacon

Instant Pot Tuscan Bean Soup with Bacon

I love how easy it is to cook beans in my Instant Pot - no soaking of the beans is involved! As long as you use the Instant Pot's natural release once the beans have cooked under pressure, you will have perfectly tender beans every time. #InstantPot #Soup

Course Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Italian
Keyword beans, chicken soup, instant pot
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry beans, I love cannellini benas, but usually use Great Northern
  • enough chicken broth to cover the beans in the Instant Pot by 1 inch, 2-3 cups
  • 6 strips center cut bacon chopped, may substitute pancetta, if desired (cured Italian bacon)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 tsp. each dried thyme, dried basil, dried rosemary
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 3 cups chicken stock, warmed ahead, if possible
  • 28 oz. can whole or diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach or baby kale, roughly chopped
  • splash of heavy cream, if desired
  • 1 par-baked baguette, sliced into thick slices
  • 8 oz. block Parmesan of Asiago cheese (you will have some leftover)

Instructions

  1. Place the beans and broth in the Instant Pot, making sure the beans are covered with the broth by 1". Lock the Instant Pot lid into place.  Choose the high pressure setting for 5 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure. 

    When the timer sounds, use a natural release, letting the pressure in the Instant Pot drop naturally.  Carefully remove the Instant Pot lid.  Drain the beans and reserve.

  2. Using the saute setting on the Instant Pot; when the pot is nicely hot, add the chopped bacon, cooking the bacon until a bit of fat is rendered.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots, spices and tomato paste, stirring to blend well; cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, adding a bit of broth of the ingredients begin to stick to the bottom of the pot. 

    Add the chicken broth and tomatoes; return the cooked beans to the pot at this time, as well. Continuing to use the saute setting, bring the soup to a boil.

  3. Once the soup is boiling nicely, lock the Instant Pot lid into place; choose the high pressure setting for 15 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure.  When the timer sounds, perform a quick release, allowing the pressure from the Instant Pot to escape quickly from the pot. 

    When all the pressure is removed from the pot, carefully remove the lid.

    Season the soup with salt and pepper; stir in the fresh spinach. Stir in a splash of cream at this point, if desired.

  4. While the bean soup ingredients are cooking in the Instant Pot, slice the par-baked baguette, brushing the slices with a bit of olive oil.  Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet; place the baking sheet into a preheated 375 degree F. oven for 8-10 minutes until the baguette slices are nicely golden brown and beginning to get a bit crispy. 

    Remove the baguettes from the oven and sprinkle each one with a bit of the shredded Parmesan.

  5. To serve the bean soup, place a couple of the prepared baguette slices into each bowl, ladling the bean soup over the top.  Garnish with additional Parmesan, as desired.

Recipe Notes

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Chef Alli

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Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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