Esophageal cancer has a 5-year survival rate below 20%, but can be curatively resected if it is detected early. At present, poor contrast for early lesions in white light imaging leads to a high miss rate in standard-of-care endoscopic surveillance. Early lesions in the esophagus, referred to as dysplasia, are characterized by an abundance of abnormal cells with enlarged nuclei. This tissue has a different refractive index profile to healthy tissue, which results in different light scattering properties and provides a source of endogenous contrast that can be exploited for advanced endoscopic imaging. For example, point measurements of such contrast can be made with scattering spectroscopy, while optical coherence tomography generates volumetric data. However, both require specialist interpretation for diagnostic decision making. We propose combining wide-field phase imaging with existing white light endoscopy in order to provide enhanced contrast for dysplasia and early-stage cancer in an image format that is familiar to endoscopists. Wide-field phase imaging in endoscopy can be achieved using coherent illumination combined with phase retrieval algorithms. Here, we present the design and simulation of a benchtop phase imaging system that is compatible with capsule endoscopy. We have undertaken preliminary optical modelling of the phase imaging setup, including aberration correction simulations and an investigation into distinguishing between different tissue phantom scattering coefficients. As our approach is based on phase retrieval rather than interferometry, it is feasible to realize a device with low-cost components for future clinical implementation.