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 66 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 66 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




123 comments on Livornese Stewed Beans

  1. Nicole

    5 stars
    Amazing recipie – the fresh herbs really elevated everything. I’ve made it several times and it’s always delicious. My only modification would be to add the celery and carrots with the onion to fully soften them.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Nicole, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  2. Haley

    5 stars
    Yes yes yes yes! This is so simple but so good. I don’t like parsley so I left it out, and I couldn’t get sage so I subbed 1 tbsp fresh thyme, and subbed smoked paprika for red pepper flakes. I also added lacinato kale and some nutritional yeast at the end. Agree with everyone else, the basil in this is amazing.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Haley!

    2. Matthew K.

      Haley, if you like cilantro, I subbed that in my recipe over parsley and it worked amazingly.

  3. Marlee

    4 stars
    This dish was super delicious! Very bright and colorful (definitely perfect for a cold winters day). I had a question though about the recipe. When you say “add the tomatoes with their juices” do you mean add the juice from the tomatoes (like the flesh and juice) or add the juice that’s in the can? The only reason I ask is because I added the juice from the can but it was so much that it didn’t evaporate all the way and I had to skip out on adding the veggie broth because it would have overflowed if I did

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Glad you loved it, Marlee!

      And when we say “add the tomatoes with their juices” we mean everything that came from inside the can. Could it have been that your heat was potentially not turned up high enough as to cook off more of the water content? Sorry to hear about that, though.

  4. DaniG

    4 stars
    I have made several of Nisha’s recipes and they do not disappoint. This is no exception. She is such a master at building with and complex flavors. A few notes in this recipe which made it a 4 rather than a five for me. I found the dish to be quite acidic so will try adding the sugar when we eat the leftovers. I also found the end dish a little salty which is surprising bc taste wise, i usually always agree with Nisha’s recommended salt amount. I think it was a matter of 1) salting as I went (which I rarely do but wanted to try) and 2) using multiple products with salt (like broth and maybe even my tomato paste) which contained salt. Lastly, and this is more of a compliment then a fault of the recipe but after the time I spent cooking this dish, I wanted there to be more!

    All this being said, I will most definitely put this in my rotation.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thank you for the review, DaniG! And we are glad you liked the recipe, despite the couple changes you felt needed to be made. Cheers!

  5. Alan

    4 stars
    I really enjoyed this one. I was worried it would be too watery but leaving it to simmer for an extra 20 minutes did the trick – and it was worth the wait. Not sure if I did something wrong, but these quantities gave me enough for 6 huge portions!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Hi there Alan, so good to hear the recipe was a hit! Did you use two cans of beans? Each serving should contain about half a can of beans. Either way, feel free to freeze the beans in individual portions in airtight containers for later use if you’d like!

  6. Pamela Denker

    5 stars
    So delicious!! As with so many of your recipes, the ingredients combine for an extra-great flavor explosion, turning a dish of stewed beans into something extraordinary! Thank you, it was exactly what I needed on a cold winter evening!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Pamela!

  7. Willis

    5 stars
    Flavorful and so simple. Thank you, Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Willis!

  8. Juniper

    5 stars
    Nisha, you’ve done it again! I served these beans just like you did you in your YouTube video (with a big ol hunk of crusty sourdough bread) and it was to die for! So easy yet so so good!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  9. Harry

    5 stars
    So good! Adding this to our regular rotation.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      So glad to hear that, Harry!

  10. Andréanne

    5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! I’m sure I will remake it multiple times!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  11. Talia

    5 stars
    Made this today and it’s a keeper! Simply delicious. I made it with black eyed peas (from scratch, cooked separately) instead of cannellini beans, and spinach instead of basil and it is just so good. Had it with your cornbread. :) Thanks Nisha!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Talia! You’re so welcome!

  12. Eli

    5 stars
    Hi there!
    Just finished eating this delicious dish, it was amazing! Granted, ive changed few things (for starters ive added TONS of chillies :D) but the base flavour was all your doing. Thank you so much for sharing such lovely filling flavour bomb! <3

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  13. Stef

    5 stars
    This is so good! I made it yesterday when the weather was freezing here in Colorado. Hearty, warming, and deliciously flavored. Don’t skip the slivered basil at the end!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for sharing, Stef!

  14. Georgia

    5 stars
    I LOVED THIS RECIPE. It feels like the ultimate comfort food to me!
    I also did the recipe a bit different and substituted 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and it tasted amazing, hoping it didn’t alter the taste that it was meant to be too much!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Thanks for the lovely feedback, Georgia!

  15. Angie Allen

    4 stars
    This is a lovely stew for the January cold we are experiencing right now. We eat a bean based soup every day and this will be added to our rotation. The hubs thought is was too tomatoey. He received an eye roll for that. Thanks for your adaptation; I know there is a lot of thought and experimentation that goes into changing something from meat based to plant based!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Great to hear you enjoyed it, Angie!

  16. Tricia Sargeant

    5 stars
    Awesome recipe! I forgot to buy fresh sage and parsley. So I substituted 1 1/2 t poultry seasoning for the sage and about 1- 1 1/2 T dried parsley and it turned out great. Really delicious recipe. The fresh basil on top is amazing. Left overs were fantastic. I definitely recommend!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Tricia, So glad to hear you loved this recipe!

  17. Ellie

    5 stars
    Made this last night and it is super flavorful and satisfying! I feel like the San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil at the end are clutch. Could be a fairly easy weeknight meal if you have everything chopped up beforehand. Also, you def want some fancy bread for this meal.

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

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

  18. Linda

    5 stars
    I bet this recipe would be great with Fava beans!!!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Ooh, interesting! If you try it out please let us know how it goes!

  19. Sue

    5 stars
    Love this hearty, richly flavorful stew! This recipe arrived at just the right time: my area of upstate New York is cold (26 degrees at the moment) and in the process of receiving over a foot of snow–perfect weather for staying indoors and making comfort food. And that’s just what this stew is! Perfect!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      We are thrilled you were able to make this recipe in your time of (comfort food) need! Thanks for sharing :)

  20. Maria

    5 stars
    Delicious! Made this last night for my husband and me. It was delicious with some French bread and a simple side salad. It made a lot so we froze a few portions in souper cubes but I’m already tempted to defrost it so I can have it for dinner again tonight!

    1. Support @ Rainbow Plant Life

      Glad you thoroughly enjoyed the recipe, Maria! :)

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!