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White Beans with Sage, Garlic and Fennel

4 Servings

45 minutes

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This is a simplified version of classic Tuscan fagioli uccelletto. For complexity, we flavor the beans with three layers of sage—finely chopped leaves, sage-infused oil and crumbled fried leaves. Any variety of canned white beans will work, though great northern and navy beans held their shape better than cannellini. This dish is hearty enough to serve as a main—it's excellent with grilled rustic bread—but is also a good accompaniment to roast chicken or pork.

To make the recipe using dried white beans, start by soaking ½ pound dried great northern beans in 6 cups water and 1 ½ tablespoons salt overnight. The next day, heat an oven to 300 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Drain the beans and add them to a large saucepan along with 2 bay leaves, and 1 head garlic with the top third removed. Pour in 2 cups water, bring to a simmer over high, cover, and bake until the beans and tender and creamy, about 1 hour. Drain the beans (reserving the liquid) then proceed with the recipe substituting the cooked beans for the canned beans called for in the recipe.




Don’t drain both cans of beans. The liquid from one of the cans creates a sauce-like consistency that keeps the beans succulent.

45 minutes


  • 6

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1

    large fennel bulb, trimmed and finely chopped


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Jessica C.
September 27, 2023
Delicious and Quick
Love this complex and delicious weeknight soup!
September 10, 2023
John C.
September 23, 2022
Great weeknight meal
We eat this probably twice a month when we can get fennel. I have sage in the back garden and when it’s just the family, I usually don’t bother frying up leaves, I just add the sage to the dish. I also use all the liquid from the white bean and tomato cans and let it cook down with a bit of Parmesan rind to give it some body. Great with a piece of crusty bread, and leftovers reheat very well. One of our family favorites!
Hollyjean Z.

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