Easy, wholesome, and comforting is the name of the game in this Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale. Its luscious texture will feed your soul while the unique flavors and zesty finish will keep you coming back for more.
As someone who gravitates towards hyper-flavorful curries and Asian-inspired soups, I knew I needed to work extra hard to make the flavors pop in this white bean soup.
So I used three techniques for an epic flavored soup: a bouquet garni, gremolata, and finishing with olive oil. The bursts of refreshing, herbaceous, zingy, and comforting flavors here feel like fireworks.
And you agree! This white bean soup has racked up 250+ five-star reviews!
Why this recipe works
This white bean soup gets its natural creaminess from just two ingredients: white beans and potatoes. No dairy, coconut milk, or cashews needed!
When partially blended, the cannellini beans and potatoes become velvety smooth while naturally thickening the soup.
Just don’t forget the crusty bread for dipping!
Gourmet flavors but wholesome.
There are three techniques that make this soup a flavor bomb.
- A bouquet garni, a French term for a bundle of herbs tied together. A bundle of fresh rosemary & sage + bay leaves infuses every spoonful with layers of deep woodsy flavors.
- A gremolata is stirred into each bowl of soup before serving. Made with just parsley, basil, lemon zest, and garlic, it takes mere minutes to make but adds a zesty, lemony pop to each bite.
- A drizzle of good-quality extra virgin olive oil at the end adds rich mouthfeel and body to this veggie-packed soup.
Despite being gourmet and creamy, this soup is 100% wholesome and allergen-friendly (free of nuts, soy, gluten, and dairy).
It’s packed with five(!) veggies, 19g of protein, and 16g of fiber!
First of all, you probably already have most of the ingredients in your kitchen and pantry.
Second, it’s made in just one pot. Just use an immersion blender to blend roughly half the soup right in the pot.
If you want to make prep time quicker, I recommend one of these ninja vegetable choppers (we recently got one and just wow!) (affiliate link).
You can also make this white bean kale soup in your Instant Pot (check out the FAQ section for instructions).
Perfect for meal prep.
No more searching high and low for perfect vegan meal prep recipes. This white bean and kale soup is easy to prepare ahead of time and can be stored in the fridge throughout your work week.
Plus, cannellini beans are an amazing source of protein (17g in just 1 cup!), helping you stay full throughout the day. They’re also the star in my creamy vegan broccoli soup and creamy vegan cauliflower soup.
Fresh herbs. To make the bouquet garni, I use fresh sage and rosemary, plus dried bay leaves. All three pair really well with white beans.
Substitute: You can replace sage or rosemary with fresh thyme. While dried herbs can be used in a pinch, they simply do not add the same punch of flavor.
Cannellini beans. AKA white kidney beans. These are some of the creamiest beans out there. They’re also what make this Instant Pot Wild Rice Mushroom Soup stick-to-your-ribs comforting.
Substitute: If you can’t find them, use another white bean.
Yukon gold potatoes. When cooked down, potatoes naturally thicken this soup. I use just one medium Yukon gold potato, but if potatoes are your jam, feel free to add some more (you might want to add a bit more vegetable broth to compensate).
Substitute: If you only have sweet potatoes on hand, add a small sweet potato for a different flavor profile.
Lacinato kale. Also known as dino kale or Tuscan kale. This soup feels like it comes from the hills of Tuscany, so lacinato kale is the preferred option!
Substitute: Curly kale works but may take a few extra minutes to become tender. Baby spinach is fine too, but will add a softer texture.
Lemons. Lemon zest is a key element in gremolata and gives this soup its punchy finish. To prepare lemons for zesting, remove any produce stickers from the outside and scrub the peel very well before using. I prefer to use organic lemons for zesting.
Extra virgin olive oil. Because this soup is naturally low in fat, the olive oil at the end really takes it over the top, adding a rich and luxurious mouthfeel that’s often missing in plant-based soups.
Saute the vegetables. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven (affiliate link) over medium-high heat. Once hot, sauté the onion, celery, and carrots until soft.
Next, add the garlic and red pepper flakes (you can leave these out if you don’t want the kick).
Deglaze the pot. Pour the vegetable broth into the pot and scrape up any stuck browned bits on the bottom.
Stir in the salt, pepper, bouquet garni, potatoes, cannellini beans, and artichokes.
Simmer the soup. Bring the soup up to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the gremolata. Finely chop the parsley and basil. Grate the garlic over the herbs, then zest the lemon on top. Stir the garlic and lemon into the herbs. Chop the herbs once more until they’re finely minced. Finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.
Blend the soup. Once the potatoes are tender, turn off the heat and remove the bouquet garni.
Use an immersion blender directly in the pot to blend half of the soup (or transfer half of the soup to a stand blender and blend until smooth, and stir the blended soup back into the pot).
Add the chopped kale to the soup and simmer until tender. Adjust the seasonings.
Serve. Ladle the white bean kale soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle a generous amount of the gremolata on top and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!
Tips for making this white bean soup
Watch the lemon pith. The white pith underneath the lemon peel is quite bitter. Be sure to not zest too deeply, or you’ll end up with pith in your gremolata. A microplane is the best tool for getting the zest but not the pith.
No kitchen twine for the herb bouquet?
You have a few options to make your bouquet garni if you don’t have kitchen twine:
- Add the herb sprigs into the pot and use tongs to remove them after cooking; or
- MacGyver it: tie the herbs using a leftover scallion or the string from a tea bag; or
- Chop the herbs (not the bay leaves) and sauté them when you add the garlic.
Partially blend the soup. Make sure to not blend the entire batch. Blending half of the soup before adding the kale creamifies the soup yet retains a good amount of texture.
Deglaze with wine instead. If you have an open bottle of dry white wine (think Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.), feel free to deglaze the pot with 1/4 to 1/3 cup for an extra depth of flavor.
Add toppings! Feel free to garnish this soup with croutons, a sprinkle of vegan parmesan cheese, or homemade cashew parmesan. We love serving it with slabs of seeded whole grain bread for a balanced, wholesome meal.
Use these flavor techniques elsewhere. Tuck a bouquet garni into your next pot of beans, or try it with my fall favorite Pumpkin Lasagna Soup. Gremolata is a lovely topping for crostini, pizza, and pasta, like my Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and let the pot heat up for a few minutes before adding the olive oil (you may need more than 1 tbsp to prevent sticking). Once hot, add the onion, carrots, and celery and a pinch or two of salt. Cook for 6-8 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened.
2) Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
3) Pour in the broth to deglaze the pan and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the 1 teaspoon kosher salt, black pepper to taste, bouquet garni, potatoes, cannellini beans, and artichokes (if using). Stir well.
4) Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure for 7 minutes. While the soup cooks, make the gremolata.
5) Once the 7-minute timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then manually release any remaining steam.
6) Transfer half of the soup to a stand blender and blend until thick and smooth. Then return this pureed soup back to the pot and stir to incorporate. Or, use an immersion blender throughout half of the soup, but be sure to not blend it all – you want to retain some texture.
7) Now stir in the kale. Select the Sauté setting and heat until the kale is wilted, about 3 minutes. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt as needed. When the soup is done, remove the bouquet garni. Transfer to bowls, top with gremolata and olive oil, and enjoy.
Technically no, but it’s recommended! It really makes this soup unique and shine in flavor. Plus, it takes like 5 minutes and you can easily make it while the soup is simmering.
You can use 1/2 pound (227g) dried white beans but you’d need to cook them plain ahead of time (this is a quick-simmering soup, so the dried beans won’t cook through in it).
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you are not eating all the soup now, store the gremolata in a small jar and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil for better storage in the fridge. You can spoon this herby oil directly on your soup when ready to reheat and eat instead of finishing with olive oil.
Yes, it freezes well! Transfer the cooled soup to a few airtight containers. We love using these nifty Souper Cubes for single-serve portions that are quick to defrost (affiliate link).
Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
If freezing, do not add the gremolata. Instead, make the gremolata fresh when you are ready to reheat the soup.
More soup inspiration
Once you add this white bean soup to your rotation, be sure to try out one of these 17 excellent vegan soup or stew recipes! And if you have my cookbook, The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook, Chapter 6 is packed with globally-inspired soups and stews.
Watch! How to make Creamy White Bean Soup
If you love this White Bean and Kale Soup, please rate and review the recipe below. It’s always much appreciated :)
- 1 generous tablespoon olive oil*
- 1 large sweet onion (or yellow onion or leek), diced
- 3 sticks of celery, diced
- 3 medium carrots, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 ½ cups (840 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth**
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Bouquet garni: 2 bay leaves + 1 large sprig of sage + 1 large or 2 small sprigs rosemary, tied tightly together with kitchen twine***
- 1 medium Yukon gold potato (about 6 ounces or 170g), peeled and finely diced
- 2 (15-ounce/425g) cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans)
- 1 (14 ounce/400g) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped finely (optional)
- 1 small head of lacinato kale, center rib removed and shredded (about 1 small bunch)
- Good-quality extra virgin olive oil (for finishing)
- 1 loosely packed cup (12g) Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ½ loosely packed cup (8g) fresh basil leaves
- 2 large garlic cloves, left whole and peeled
- 2 medium lemons (I prefer organic since we're using the peel)
- Coarse or flaky sea salt
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion, celery, and carrots, along with a pinch or two of salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened and starting to just turn brown, 6-9 minutes.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook another 1-2 minutes until very fragrant.
- Pour in the vegetable broth and deglaze the pot, stirring up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the 1 teaspoon kosher salt, black pepper to taste, bouquet garni, potatoes, cannellini beans, and artichokes (if using). Stir well.
- Bring the soup to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover the pot, and simmer the soup for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- While the soup is simmering, make the Gremolata. Finely chop the parsley and basil. Using a microplane, grate the garlic directly over the parsley and basil. Then zest the lemons on top of this mixture, taking care to not zest the white pith underneath the skin. Mix the garlic and lemon zest into the herbs and chop the herbs until they’re finely minced. Sprinkle with a bit of the coarse or flaky sea salt.
- Transfer half of the soup to a stand blender and blend until thick and smooth. Then return this pureed soup back to the pot and stir to incorporate. One-pot option: Remove bouquet garni and use an immersion blender throughout half of the soup, but be sure to not blend it all – you want to retain some texture.
- Add the kale to the soup and simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until the kale is tender but still bright green. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt as needed. When the soup is done, remove the bouquet garni.
- Serve the soup in bowls and sprinkle a generous amount of the Gremolata over each bowl and a drizzle of the extra virgin olive oil.If storing leftovers, add the gremolata to a jar, drizzle some olive oil in there, and refrigerate. Spoon this over leftover soup.
(2) MacGyver it: tie the herbs using a leftover scallion or the string from a tea bag; or
(3) Chop the herbs (not the bay leaves) and sauté them when you add the garlic. PS: Instant Pot instructions can be found in the first FAQ in the blog post.