White Navy Beans / Borlotti Beans

James Cooks Italy CookbookThe name of this recipe is very misleading as it ended up being white navy bean soup, and even then it wasn’t soup. It was so thick, it wasn’t even stew. But no matter what you call it, it’s delicious! I’ve been watching Jamies Cooks Italy lately and I fell in love with the recipes. I was recently at a bookstore grand opening and they had his cookbook on sale. I swooped it up and bookmarked about 15 recipes. Borlotti Bean Soup was one of them and the photo cried out that it needed to be made. I say that the words “Borlotti Bean Soup” is misleading for a couple of reasons. I didn’t have any borlotti beans (similar to a kidney bean), so used white navy beans, and secondly this was thick. It came out more as a thick beans recipe (think pork and beans).

I also added a few other herbs. The recipe calls for rosemary and I’m not overly fond of it. I also would have used fresh oregano, but didn’t find any. 

As this dish got the major stamp of approval from the Hubby, I will definitely make it again. The Hubby even recommended I make a big batch of it for my mother, he liked it that much. When I do, I will try and get the proper beans, but if I can’t white navy beans worked really well.

As the dish turned out really thick, which I don’t mind in the least, instead of scooping it over some toasted sourdough bread, I toasted a slice and would scoop up a spoonful with the bread and gobbled it down that way.

I was also a tad skeptical of the addition of so much olive oil and the red wine vinegar. After all, a tiny teaspoon full of vinegar? What would that do? Make it perfect, that’s what! And so much oil, wouldn’t that make it…. oily? Nope, it makes it delicious!

White Navy Beans / Borlotti Beans

White Navy Bean / Borlotti Beans


  • 1 lb dried borlotti or white navy beans
  • 8 cups stock
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano or 4-5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar


  • Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Rinse thoroughly, picking out any of the skins.
  • Peel the onions, tomato, potato, and garlic, leaving whole. Cut the onions, tomato, and potato in half.
  • Place the beans in a large pot, add the vegetables, tea pocket, bouquet garni, bay leaves, and cover by an inch or two with stock.
  • Simmer 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, adding more water if necessary.
  • When the beans are soft, remove the onion, chopping and mashing up. Mash the tomato, potato and any garlic pieces.
  • Remove the bouquet garni, the tea pocket and bay leaves.
  • Add more water if desired, add the olive oil and the vinegar, stir to combine.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with buttery sourdough toast.


If using dried oregano, put peppercorns and oregano in cheesecloth or a tea pocket and tie shut with twine.
I added a 3 inch piece of sausage and a small piece of smoked pork chop left over from dinner before. It's not necessary, but it does add a bit of flavor.
Adapted from Jamie Cooks Italy
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