Livornese Stewed Beans

Jump to Recipe
These Livornese Stewed Beans are the ultimate rustic Italian comfort food! Made with simple pantry-friendly ingredients like onions, garlic, tomato paste and white beans, but it's big on gourmet Italian flavor. It's cozy and indulgent but wholesome, vegan, and gluten-free.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
4.9 from 63 votes

One of my favorite types of cuisines is rustic Italian cooking, and these Livornese Stewed Beans are a perfect example. A handful of simple ingredients like onions, carrots, garlic, fresh herbs, and whole peeled canned tomatoes are cooked down until sweet and jammy; cannellini beans are later added to the mix and stewed until the stew is rich, almost creamy, and unbelievably flavorful.

This recipe will have your kitchen smelling like an Italian restaurant and is guaranteed to become a new favorite. The texture is jammy, rich, and thick, perfect for cold winter nights. And the flavor is everything you love about homey Italian cooking with a sweet-tangy tomato flavor dotted with lots of herbaceous notes.

If you love the sound of pantry-friendly Italian meals, be sure to check out my 10-ingredient Lentil Bolognese and my Italian White Bean and Pasta Stew! And if you have my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, there’s a great easy recipe for Ribollita, which is a pantry-friendly Tuscan bread soup.

livornese stewed beans in a bowl bowl with a piece of bread on blue tablecloth

Watch: How to make Livornese Stewed Beans!

What are Livornese Stewed Beans??

Well, it’s an incredibly delicious Italian recipe I made up…sort of!

The inspiration for this recipe comes from the TV show Searching For Italy, where the fabulous Stanley Tucci explores his Italian heritage through the regional cuisines of Italy. While most of the food featured on this show is far from vegan, I do love seeing how much care and love Italian chefs and farmers put into their ingredients and their craft. Every time I watch an episode, I’m excited to make something inspired by the show but with my own plant-based spin.

Episode 5 finds Stanley Tucci in Livorno—a port city on the Ligurian Sea, west of Tuscany—where he enjoys a seafood tomato stew made with very simple but good-quality ingredients. My plant-based interpretation of that dish is a bit loose: I’m not trying to recreate the taste or texture of seafood.

And when I say it’s honest-to-good freakin’ delicious and one of my favorite bean recipes, I am not kidding. And the ingredients are so simple and humble.

livornese stewed beans in a bowl bowl with a piece of bread on blue tablecloth

Why you’ll love these stewed beans

  • A Hug in a Bowl: This is the kind of winter food that warms you from the inside and makes you feel cozy inside. It’s warming and hearty but won’t weigh you down.
  • Rich Italian Flavor: This recipe starts by cooking down onions until nicely golden, which builds a first layer of flavor. Carrots and celery are added to complete the traditional northern Italian soffritto, along with lots of garlic and chili flakes for a subtle heat. Fresh sage perfumes the whole stew with a woodsy, camphory aroma, and cooking down a generous amount of tomato paste adds so much umami. Slow simmering infuses the dish with so much flavor.
  • Wholesome but Indulgent: Every bite of this feels like a little bit of Italian indulgence, but it’s made with wholesome plant-based ingredients: beans, aromatics, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, olive oil, and vegetable broth. Okay, and a little white wine!
  • Allergen-Friendly. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free.
  • Meal Prep- and Freezer-Friendly. These stewed beans are a great option for meal prep and freeze beautifully!
livornese stewed beans in a bowl bowl with a piece of bread on blue tablecloth

Step-by-Step Instructions

Gather your ingredients!

ingredients for livornese stewed beans with ingredients labeled

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion with a pinch of salt until golden, 7-8 minutes. Stir in the carrot, celery, and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook 3-4 minutes.

Add the chopped parsley & sage and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Then squeeze in the tomato paste and stir almost constantly for 2 minutes.

Pour in the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Pour in the crushed tomatoes with their juices, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.

Cook at a rapid simmer, until most of the tomato liquid has evaporated, 12 to 13 minutes. Then pour in the cannellini beans and the veggie broth.

Stir to combine, and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir slivered basil into the finished stew.

Tips for making this recipe

Use tomato paste from a tube. Couple reasons for this. First, canned tomato paste tastes metallic (like its can), and since a generous quantity is used in this recipe, that tinny flavor will be noticeable. Second, tomato paste in tubes is preserved with salt instead of citric acid, so the tomato flavor is brighter, fresher, and purer.

Use whole peeled canned tomatoes. If it sounds like I’m making up arbitrary rules, I promise I’m not! When you’re making a recipe with very simple ingredients like this, using the best-quality ingredients available to you is key.

Whole peeled canned tomatoes are made with just tomatoes, nothing else. In contrast, pre-crushed or pre-diced tomatoes have certain additives (e.g., diced tomatoes typically have calcium chloride, which makes them difficult to dissolve and break down). The whole variety, then, is better for flavor and gives you more control over texture.

If your tomatoes are quite acidic, you might need to add a pinch of sugar at the end (taste first, then adjust as needed).

Don’t skimp on the olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is key in any good Tuscan recipe, and I wanted to stay true to that. Plus, it’s the only source of fat here, and honestly, it makes a big difference. It allows the onions to get super sweet and to unleash their umami without the edges browning or burning, so the onions almost melt into the stew. And it adds a rich, luxurious mouthfeel to the whole stew that is absolutely divine.

These stewed beans are supposed to be thick and velvety in texture, but if you prefer a looser consistency, feel free to add 1/2 to 1 cup of additional broth (or water).

Frequently Asked Questions

I don’t drink wine. How can I substitute the white wine?

You can try white grape juice (a no-sugar-added variety) but use about half the amount, as it’s sweeter than wine. Or, you can try 1/2 cup (120 mL) veggie broth + 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar mixed together. You’ll get similar flavors with these substitutes, just not as much complexity of flavor. 

Can I add more vegetables to this recipe?

Sure! A very appropriate addition would be lacinato kale (AKA Tuscan kale). Chop it finely and add it to the last 5 minutes of the stew, cooking it down until it wilts.

How long will these stewed beans last in the fridge? How should I reheat them?

Store in an airtight container for 5 to 6 days. I prefer to reheat in a saucepan on the stove (medium heat), but you can also reheat in the microwave.

Can you freeze these stewed beans?

Absolutely! This recipe freezes great. Once it’s cool, transfer to a few small containers (makes it quicker to defrost). I like using these single-serve Souper Cubes (affiliate link). It makes it easy to defrost an individual block of the stew on the stove in less than 10 minutes. It should stay good in the freezer for 4 months. Or, you can defrost the stew in the fridge.

livornese stewed beans in a bowl bowl with a piece of bread on blue tablecloth

Stewed Beans, Livornese-Style

4.9 from 63 votes
These Livornese Stewed Beans are the ultimate rustic Italian comfort food! Made with simple pantry-friendly ingredients like onions, garlic, tomato paste and white beans, but it's big on gourmet Italian flavor. It's cozy and indulgent but wholesome, vegan, and gluten-free.
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Diet Vegan
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (56 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 medium or large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup (4g) flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons (67g) tomato paste (in a tube, not a can)*
  • ¾ cup (180 mL) dry white wine**
  • 1 28-ounce (800g) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups (360 mL) vegetable broth, plus more as desired
  • 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup (8g) fresh basil, slivered***

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, and season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until golden, stirring occasionally. Add in the carrot, celery, and garlic, with another pinch of salt and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, parsley, and sage and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring almost continuously, for 1 to 2 minutes, until it's a bit darker in color.
  • Pour the white wine in and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Allow wine to simmer rapidly for 3 minutes, or until mostly evaporated and it no longer smells like wine, stirring often.
  • Add tomatoes along with their juices, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and several cracks of black pepper. Cook at a rapid simmer, stirring fairly often, until the tomatoes are fully broken down and most of the liquid has evaporated, 12 to 13 minutes.
  • Add the veggie broth and 2 cans of beans. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and maintain a decent simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once in a while. If you want the stew to be thicker, towards the end of cooking, use the back of a wooden spoon or a spatula to gently smash a small portion of the beans.
  • Taste, adding a pinch of sugar if needed (if your tomatoes are good-quality, it should not be necessary). Remove the bay leaf. Finish with chopped basil. Season to taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.

Notes

* I recommend tube tomato paste because canned tomato paste tastes metallic and a generous quantity is used in this recipe. Tubed tomato paste also has a brighter, fresher, purer tomato flavor.
** Pick a dry, crisp white wine such as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Sancerre, Pinot Grigio. If you don’t consume alcohol, read the “Frequently Asked Questions” section for a wine substitute. To check if your wine is vegan, you can use Barnivore.com. 
*** If basil is not available, sub with flat-leaf parsley. 

Calories: 472kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Sodium: 1117mg | Potassium: 1503mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 8442IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 274mg | Iron: 9mg

Did you make this recipe?

Tag @rainbowplantlife and hashtag it #rainbowplantlife

Leave a Comment & Rating

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider giving it a star rating along with your comment! It helps others discover my blog and recipes, and your comments always make my day :) Thank you for your support!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe




119 comments on Livornese Stewed Beans

  1. Lorraine Guerra

    5 stars
    Wow! Delicious! This would definitely impress my non vegan family and friends. I cooked it exactly as written and it came out perfect. My husband and I had it with a side of regular toast that we had on hand and a side of sliced avocado. Perfect combination.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Lorraine!

  2. Matthew K.

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I’ve made this twice in the past week for myself. I’m actually eating it as I write this review. Just goes to tell how good it is. I subbed cilantro for parsley (as I cannot stand it). I know not generally considered Italian but a great substitution if you have an aversion like me. I generally didn’t need as much salt as what was called out in the recipe, but that could be due to the concentration of my veggie stock (I use better than Boullion). Highly recommend finishing this with more crushed red pepper flakes, a drizzle of good EVOO and some vegan parm. Will be adding this to my rotation along side the Red lentil curry, and Dal Makhani. Thanks Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Matthew!

  3. molly

    5 stars
    this was delicious! super easy and yummy. lovely warming meal that could probably be served chilled as a nice summery dish too!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Molly!

  4. Mariana

    5 stars
    Absolutely delicious like every single recipe I try from this blog!

    Thank you for creating such flavorful recipes.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Mariana!

  5. Isabelle

    5 stars
    Amazing recipe, I did a half portion but looking forward to cook the whole portion next time as it came out totally irresistable. Thank you !

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Isabelle!

  6. Rob

    5 stars
    So easy to make, but so delicious! It’s super filling too and I’ll definitely be making this again! I added in some cavolo nero at the end to keep this a one pot meal.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Rob!

  7. Lisa

    5 stars
    Absolutely loved this stew and am making it again tonight! Beautiful flavourings and so easy to make.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Lisa!

  8. Kitty

    5 stars
    I just made this for supper. My meat-loving husband, who is also a discerning cook and who is not easy to please, loved this dish so much he had seconds. High praise! I loved it too.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Kitty!

    2. Olivia

      5 stars
      Absolutely phenomenal. I ate a bowl cold and it was just as good! This is going into the rotation for sure.

      1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

        Thanks for the lovely feedback, Olivia!

  9. Cindy C

    5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! So flavorful and healthy. The depth of flavor with the wine was really good. I would like to try this recipe as a pasta sauce without the beans. I added a little coconut palm sugar to reduce the acidity from the tomatoes. Also added some cooked spinach before serving. Hearty and delicious!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Cindy!

  10. Sophia

    5 stars
    Another hit from Nisha! So flavorful and comforting. Definitely will be making this one again.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Sophia, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  11. Kimberly

    5 stars
    So flavorful and comforting! For fresh herbs I only used basil but it tasted delicious nonetheless. Crusty warm bread on the side should be mandatory to get the full effect!
    I actually combined some of the leftovers with my remaining “eggy tofu scramble” from the other day, and it was fantastic as well.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Kimberly!

  12. Heidi

    5 stars
    I made this as written except I upped the garlic… which I may not do next time. Absolutely delicious and perfect for a cold weekend! Thank you!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Heidi!

  13. Victoria

    5 stars
    Delicious, easy recipe! Making again tonight, we are so excited for dinner!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Victoria, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  14. joaniejoan

    5 stars
    I loved this recipe! Loved preparing it and loved eating it! I served it over some polenta that I cooked in the oven of all things. What a delicious combination it was! This will go in my “keeper” collection along with others from Rainbow Plant Life. I’m an experienced cook, but I have learned a lot from you, Nisha. Thank you and please keep ’em coming!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Awesome, Joanie. Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to review!

  15. Caroline G.

    5 stars
    Made this tonight, while family loved it. Delicious!!! You’re such a recipe genius. Thank you! 🤗

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Caroline, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

Development Alchemy + Aim
braised chickpea stew in dutch oven

5 Secrets to Cooking Amazing Vegan Food

free email series

Learn the pro-tips that will take your plant-based cooking to the next level!