This creamy vegan White Bean Soup recipe is pure comfort food. If you are looking for a healthy, hearty and gluten-free soup, this is for you.
Fall is the perfect season for this rustic and hearty white bean soup, which is also healthy, especially during those cold evenings.
One can never have enough healthy bean soup recipes. Just like this Italian lentil soup, your whole family will love the rich flavor combinations.
Dried white beans are not only inexpensive, but they are a great source of fiber and low-fat protein.
You won’t believe how simple it is to make!
Mise en place
The most time-consuming component of this recipe is prepping the vegetables, but I assure you the end product is worth the time investment of 10 minutes.
Rinse and sort your beans: This ensures the removal of impurities. You need 500 grams of dried white navy beans (about 2½ cups).
Prep the vegetables: Once properly washed, dice 2 medium onions, 3 medium carrots, and one head of celery, including the leaves. We also need to mince about 2 medium cloves.
Chop fresh herbs: Finally, chop about ¼ cup of fresh herbs. Parsley, thyme, and sage work well in this dried white bean soup.
Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery and sauté for about 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir often. Add the minced garlic and continue to sauté for a few more minutes.
Increase heat to medium-high. Add about 1 cup of chopped canned whole tomatoes, 500 grams of dried white navy beans (about 2½ cups), 2 bay leaves, 2 cups of vegetable stock, and 12 cups water.
Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and simmer for 2-2½ hours or until the white beans are tender and soft and the soup begins to thicken. Stir occasionally every 30 minutes or so. Adjust the consistency of the soup by adding water.
Stir occasionally, especially during the last 30 minutes.
During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add ¼ cup of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, etc…). Taste and adjust seasonings for salt and pepper.
When serving, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and/or a squirt of lemon juice.
- There is no need to soak these pulses. Adding salt at the end of the cooking time allows the beans to soften wonderfully.
- Always rinse and sort your white beans to ensure there are no impurities.
- To achieve the desired consistency of your soup, add water as necessary.
- Use dried Navy, cannellini, great northern or white kidney beans interchangeably.
- A handful of chopped spinach or kale is stirred during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- When serving, garnish with Italian hot sauce.
Can I use dried herbs?
Either fresh or dried herbs work well in this Mediterranean soup. To replace the ¼ cup of fresh herbs, use 1 heaping tablespoon of any combination of dried herbs.
Can I use fresh tomatoes?
You can easily replace the canned tomatoes in this recipe with fresh or frozen tomatoes.
Can I use canned beans?
You can easily substitute 500 grams of dried white navy beans (about 2½ cups) with about 3 cans (15 ounces each) of white beans, drained and rinsed. Reduce cooking time by 2 hours. Adjust seasonings.
Why rinse and sort your beans
Unfortunately, you can sometimes find small rocks or debris in your package of dried beans. Rinsing will remove some of the dirt; while sorting removes shriveled or discolored legumes.
Can I soak the beans overnight?
If time is an issue, soaking the beans overnight will reduce the cooking time by approximately 1-1½ hours. Be sure to adjust the seasonings since soaked beans do not contribute the same level of taste when compared to starting the soup with dried beans. The level of creaminess will also be reduced.
More white bean soup recipes
Packed with luscious flavors and nutrition-rich ingredients, you can never have too many healthy bean soup recipes!
Treat yourself to our comforting White Bean and Spinach Soup for a wholesome and flavorful meal. This creamy soup is ideal for lunch or dinner. If you like hearty soups, you will love the classic Italian combination of beans and greens -healthy, hearty and delicious!
When to salt
When you first read through the recipe, you will notice there is no indication to soak the beans prior to making the soup. This is not an omission.
As long as the salt is added towards the end of the cooking time, the beans will soften and create a naturally thick soup without the addition of cream.
In actual fact, there are mixed opinions on this. Some will say that the salt can be added at any point during the cooking time and that it’s the only acid that truly affects the beans. Others say that it’s the addition of sugars, e.g. ketchup, that make for bean-toughness.
I don’t know who’s right, but what’s always worked for me has been adding salt after several hours of simmering. As always, feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices.
Post update: For those of you wanting to know more about cooking beans, here is an excellent reference from Christopher Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen.
According to the author, potential causes that may contribute to uncooked dried beans consist of:
- hard water;
- old or stale beans and
- the presence of acidic foods.
In a previous post, I shared this veal stew recipe, where I mentioned my large collection of recipe clippings from the Wednesday Food section of the Montreal Gazette. As a faithful reader of this local paper, I am sure you can envision my shoe-boxes crammed with wonderful recipes (these baked beans are another example).
Imagine my surprise when one Wednesday morning, about 25 years ago, I flipped to the Food section only to find this bean soup recipe.
In an open letter to the food editor, a reader expressed his desire to obtain the bean soup recipe from one of his favorite local restaurants. Lo and behold, the restaurant owner shared his recipe.
At that time, I probably would not have paid any attention to this other than the fact that this restaurant (Carveli) was a couple of blocks away from the hospital where I worked. My colleagues and I would often have lunch there and this fasolatha served with their pita bread was a favorite of ours.
Needless to say, I was just thrilled!
In fact, I was so thrilled that the dietary team and I developed a large scale recipe (250 portions) to serve this healthy, hearty and filling bean soup to our clients.
During the fall and winter, this has also become a household perennial favorite.
I will often prepare a big batch of this easy bean soup on the weekend as this is a wonderful make-ahead soup.
Somehow, this big batch soup with white beans always disappears within a few days.
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Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made this homemade bean soup, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
Easy White Bean Soup
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions diced
- 3 carrots peeled and diced
- 1 head celery including leaves, chopped (10-14 stalks)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup canned whole tomatoes chopped
- 500 grams dried white navy beans 2½ cups or approx 1 pound, sorted and rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 12 cups water
- ¼ cup fresh herbs chopped parsley, sage, thyme, etc...
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil to garnish
- lemon juice to garnish
- In a very large stockpot, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery and sauté for about 5-7 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. Stir often.
- Add the minced garlic and continue to sauté for a few more minutes.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Add about 1 cup of chopped canned whole tomatoes, 500 grams of dried white navy beans (about 2½ cups), 2 bay leaves, 2 cups of vegetable stock, and 12 cups of water
- Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.
- Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and simmer for 2-2½ hours or until the white beans are tender soft and the soup begins to thicken. Stir occasionally every 30 minutes or so. If necessary, adjust the consistency of the soup by adding water.
- Stir occasionally, especially during last 30 minutes.
- During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add ¼ cup of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, sage, etc…).
- Taste and adjust seasonings for salt and pepper.
- Top off with a drizzle of olive oil and a squirt of freshly squeezed lemon juice once soup has been portioned in individual bowls.
- There is no need to soak these pulses. The addition of salt at the end of the cooking time, allows the beans to soften wonderfully.
- Always rinse and sort your white beans to ensure there are no impurities.
- The consistency of the soup by adjusted by adding water.
- Dried Navy, cannellini, great Northern or white kidney beans can be used interchangeably.
This post was originally published on November 4, 2014, and republished on November 17, 2020, with an updated recipe, content and photos.
This is heavenly …so tasty..thank you for the recipe
Love from Kenya
My pleasure Fredah! Thank you for taking the time to comment.
Excellent soup. I made it exactly as is. Here’s the exciting part about it for me … my 8-year-old granddaughter, who is not a fan of any soup, reluctantly tried it, liked it, and came back for seconds. Now that’s saying something!! Thanks Maria.
My pleasure Anne! So thrilled to read this!
I have made this delicious, creamy soup several times. My two year old granddaughter loves it. I usually add some greens at the end, today’s version will have rapini. Thanks so much Maria for sharing this wonderful recipe.
So I currently have this simmering on the stove! I subbed the vegetable stock for chicken stock I had homemade in my freezer.
I’ve been craving Carvelli’s soup for so long – it was the only thing on their menu my family enjoyed (with the bread of course). I used to love going to pick up a few portions on cold snowy nights.
I also have a copy of the newspaper recipe! It’s not as detailed as yours and omits things like garlic!
I can’t wait to try this! Now, if we can get the recipe for their bread – that would be a dream!!
Hello fellow Montrealer! Wasn’t that just the best soup! Oh, and that bread was just the best! Thanks for the memory.
I just had to put in some garlic… I think they probably “forgot” a few ingredients but after decades of making this soup, this is still a family favorite. It actually gets better the next day. You can’t go wrong with homemade chicken stock! Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy!
I added about 2 1/2 cups cubed bacon, lots of fresh parsley (about 1 1/2 cups )and 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme leaves . it came out great!
Thank you for posting this recipe!
Fantastic Sabine! Thanks so much for sharing.
I used frozen cooked great northern beans and it was delicious albeit the beans became quite mushy. I think your recipe might work better in keeping the beans more intact. I didn’t mind the business.
Business was supposed to be mushiness.
Thanks for sharing Stanley.
Great soup. I made it out of left over white beans. Cooked all other ingredients in my Instant Pot for 10 min then added the beans and heated thoroughly. My husband added kraut and weiners that we had on hand and thought that made his better. A very easy and versatile recipe.
Thanks for sharing Sondra!
what herbs and how much?
Hi Karen, the soup is great with or without herbs. I have tried with a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, and it tasted great. I have also added about a handful of freshly chopped Italian parsley at the end of the cooking time and I also liked how it tasted. Have fun experimenting! Thanks for stopping by, appreciate it!
Made this today.
I didn’t have any bay leaves but I don’t think it mattered
I used Italian seasoning and Thyme
Fantastic Karen! Glad you enjoyed this bean soup!
I added kale and loved it! It was even better leftover- I find the longer it cooks/sits, the more the beans cook and the better the broth gets!
You made a healthy white bean soup even healthier! Love it! Thanks so much for taking the time to share Abby, appreciate it!
I made the soup and it was yummy. Added some turkey sausage to my husband’s and he thought it really added something. This recipe is going on to my rotating soup recipes.
Fantastic Chris! I love your variation to this white bean soup. Thanks so much for taking the time to share, appreciate it!
Have made this soup but changed the water for chicken stock instead, its is really good.
Great idea JoAnn! I am sure the bean soup becomes extra flavorful. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment 🙂