Cannellini Beans and Greens

In this cannellini beans recipe, Swiss chard, olive oil, and a big squeeze of lemon juice transform a humble pot of beans into a bright, wholesome meal.

Cannellini beans

I love the simplicity of this cannellini beans recipe. I first started making it last spring, when our trips to the grocery store were few and far between. You only need a handful of ingredients to make it – dried cannellini beans, aromatics, lemon juice, and Swiss chard – and even those are flexible. If you don’t have cannellini beans, substitute other dried white beans, like Great Northern or navy beans. If you don’t have chard, use kale or spinach. No shallot? Try an onion. No – well, you get the idea.

After a long, hands-off simmer, these humble ingredients transform into a wholesome, warming one-pot meal. If you’ve never cooked with dried beans before, you’ll discover their magic as soon as you taste it. As they cook, they release some of their starches into the cooking water, creating a flavorful broth. When you eat, make sure to serve this cannellini beans recipe with good crusty bread. You’ll want to sop up every last drop of that tasty cooking liquid!

Dried cannellini beans in a bowl

How to Cook Cannellini Beans

Making this cannellini beans recipe takes some time, but don’t let it scare you. The process is almost entirely hands-off! Here’s how it goes:

First, soak the beans. Heads up! You’ll need to do this step the day, or at least 8 hours, before you plan to cook the beans. It can be a bit of a pain to plan ahead, but it’s totally worth it – soaking the beans shortens their cooking time, and it makes them easier to digest.

Place the beans in a large bowl and sift through them, discarding any stones or debris. Cover them with cold water, and set them aside to soak for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

Soaked white beans

Next, drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a large pot and cover them with 2 inches of water.

Then, cook! Bring the water to a boil, and skim off any foam that rises to the top. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the aromatics, salt, and pepper. If you like, you can also add a piece of kombu to make the beans more digestible, but be careful to keep the cooking water at a gentle simmer. If it boils, the kombu will cause it to become bitter.

Continue simmering for up to 2 more hours, until the beans are tender. I like to check them every 30 minutes. If the pot begins to dry out at any point, add more water to keep the beans submerged.

Finally, season to taste. When the cannellini beans are tender, remove the garlic, fennel fronds, and kombu from the pot. Peel off the garlic’s papery skins, and mash the cloves into a paste. Stir it back into the pot, along with the olive oil, lemon juice, and Swiss chard, and cook for a few minutes more, until the chard is just wilted. Adjust the lemon, salt, and pepper to taste. That’s it!

White bean soup with Swiss chard

Cannellini Beans Recipe Serving Suggestions

When you’re ready to eat, ladle the cannellini beans and their cooking liquid into bowls. Drizzle each one with olive oil and sprinkle it with chopped parsley and red pepper flakes. Pass the crusty bread, and dig in!

If you’re craving a larger meal, pair this cannellini beans recipe with a salad, like my Kohlrabi Slaw, Pear Salad, or Citrus Salad. It would also be excellent with any of these simple vegetable side dishes:


Cannellini beans recipe

More Hearty Soups and Stews

If you love this cannellini beans recipe, try one of these hearty soups or stews next:

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Cannellini Beans

rate this recipe:
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Soaking Time: 8 hours
Serves 8
This easy cannellini beans recipe is a bright, wholesome one-pot meal! Serve it with good crusty bread for sopping up the flavorful broth.


  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans
  • 2 shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 garlic bulb, top evenly sliced off
  • 1 fennel, white bulb, chopped, tops and fronds, cut into large 4-inch pieces (the tops will be removed toward the end)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (3-inch) piece of kombu, rinsed, optional* (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves torn
  • Crusty bread, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional


  • Place the beans in a large bowl. Sort through them and discard any stones or debris. Cover with 2 to 3 inches of water and discard any beans that float. Soak at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse well.
  • Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Skim any foam off the top, then add the shallots, garlic, fennel, salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, and the kombu, if using. Continue simmering until tender, up to 2 more hours, stirring occasionally. The timing will depend on the type and freshness of your beans (older beans will take longer than fresher beans). I typically check them every 30 minutes. Add more water to the pot, as needed, as it starts to evaporate.
  • When the beans are tender, remove the garlic, fennel stalks, and kombu. Discard the garlic papers. Use the back of a knife to mash the soft garlic cloves into a paste, then return it to the pot. Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice, and season to taste. I like to add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon more salt, more pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Add the chard leaves and cook until the chard is just wilted. Season to taste and serve in bowls with drizzles of olive oil and crusty bread. Sprinkle with parsley.


*The kombu is optional, but it helps the beans become more digestible. Kombu can get bitter if boiled, so be sure to keep the beans cooking at a gentle simmer after you add it.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. jill

    Can you use a kombu sheet that is salted? The type you buy in packages to eat as a snack?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Jill, those are usuually nori snacks, not kombu. This is the kombu I use:

      If you can’t find kombu, you can skip it here.

  2. Adriana

    Do you chop the fennel bulb into very small pieces and then eat it or is it discarded?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Adriana, the bulb is just chopped coarsely (bite sized pieces or smaller) and it is not discarded, they’ll tender and delicious by the time the beans are finished cooking.

  3. Ann Marie Joyce

    So if I wanted to cook your cannelloni bean recipe in my slow cooker vs simmering on stove, would you recommend high or low and how long.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Ann Marie, I don’t have a slow cooker, so I’m not sure. Whatever setting would cook dry beans thoroughly would probably work here.

  4. Carolyn E

    5 stars
    Absolutely fantastic! I traditionally make beans and greens with chicken broth, sausage and escarole. Don’t even miss any of the meatiness with this delicious version. Trying to eat less meat is a breeze with Love and Lemons recipes! I followed this recipe to the letter and used kombucha. I wouldn’t change a thing!

  5. Megan

    5 stars
    Just made this recipe and love the simplicity of it. I’ve never flavored anything using a whole garlic bulb with the paper on and everything! It was fun to squish the garlic paste out too lol! The flavors were subtle, simple, pure, warm, smooth, and satisfying. I ended up leaving the shallots in there to eat with the soup. I used kale instead of Swiss chard because it’s just what I had on hand, worked fine.
    The only thing that was odd was my parsley tasted slightly soapy!
    Overall Great recipe from a great website 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved this one too! 🙂

    • Cindy

      You probably got cilantro by mistake instead of parsley. It tastes like soap to some people.

  6. Irene

    Can this be made in a crockpot or pressure cooker?

  7. Meagan

    Made this recipe lately and honestly, wasn’t a crowd pleaser. It wasn’t incredibly flavorful for the all the time and planning that goes into it. The leftovers just sat in the fridge.

    Like this website and it’s recipes overall though!

  8. Kate

    It tastes delicious – thank you! (the first recipe I’ve made from this website).
    Can I freeze it?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad you loved the recipe – yep, you can freeze it!

  9. Catherine

    5 stars
    I made this today and its delicious! Love cooking with dried beans, the flavour you get from them is amazing. I didn’t have time to soak them overnight but I did a quick 1 hour boil before putting in the other ingredients and it took about 3hrs to cook instead of 2 (not counting the 1 hour pre-boil).

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  10. Irene

    Great tasting soup! Any tips on removing the fennel stalks and frods though?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Irene, I pull the stalks out with a pair of tongs. Any frond pieces that fall away are just fine to stay in the pot with the beans.

  11. Leigh

    5 stars
    This was SO good and well worth the time I put into it. Rich and creamy for a cold winter’s night. The lemon was a nice addition. And my PICKY KIDS ate it up!

  12. Chelsea

    Hi! If I can’t find dried cannellini beans, would great northern beans work?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Chelsea, yep, the’ll be great!

      • Chelsea

        Awesome, thank you!

  13. Paul

    It looks so healthy and delicious. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I am sure it would taste good too.

  14. Sabrina from

    love these and love making them from scratch, I always default to a can but much better going from scratch, thank you

  15. Erika Hoyt

    This looks awesome! Can I use canned cannellini beans? If so, what would be the substitution ratio? Thanks!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Erica, not exactly, this recipe is specifically made to cook dried beans and the body of its broth is created by the liquid that slowly cooks out of the beans. That’s not to say that these ingredients wouldn’t make a delicious dish with canned beans (they would!) but I would change more ratios (and timings) than a 1:1 bean swap and I would want to test that version in my own kitchen before suggesting it.

  16. Tricia Berkow

    Hi! Your recipes are so awesome. I would like to make this with a bag of Lima beans I have. Are the cannellini beans and Lima beans interchangeable?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Tricia, I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying them! You could use lima beans – they will likely take longer to cook since they’re larger.

  17. Marta MacDonald

    Do you have a cookbook?

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.