Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Gremolata

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This Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Gremolata is a hearty yet healthy one-pot soup perfect for cold weather! Vegan, gluten-free, and full of flavor that will exceed your expectations! Includes stovetop and Instant Pot instructions.
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 1 hr

I know how much y’all love easy and healthy recipes, especially ones that can be made with everyday ingredients. So I whipped up the perfect recipe for you: a Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Gremolata!

I was inspired to make a white bean soup because I had the most insanely delicious white bean stew a few weeks ago when I was in LA. It was at this tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Mh Zh, and we ordered every vegan option on the menu (about 8 dishes in total). Everything was delicious but the white bean stew was my favorite, and ever since then, I’ve been on a white bean kick!

Why you’ll love this Creamy White Bean Soup

Everyday ingredients. You probably already have most of these ingredients in your kitchen and pantry! No fancy or specialty ingredients required.

Hearty and Creamy. This is rustic comfort food that will feed your soul. This soup is creamy and sticks to your ribs (but in a good way!).

Wholesome and Nourishing. Despite being creamy, this soup is wholesome, vegan, and gluten-free. It’s thickened naturally (no cashews, coconut milk, or soy), so it’s also allergen-friendly.

Flavorful. Thanks to a few secret ingredients and techniques, this soup is packed with lots of flavor and a surprisingly zesty finish.

Tips for Digesting Beans

if you’re the kind of person who’s sensitive to beans (i.e., if beans make you toot a lot), here are a few tips that have worked for me:

Gradually incorporate beans into your diet. Before I became vegan, I rarely ate beans or lentils because they didn’t react well with my tummy. But I knew that I needed some protein sources on a vegan diet, so I started incorporating them very slowly into my diet.

I’m talking just 2 tablespoons at a time. Then I worked my way up to 1/4 cup, then gradually to 1/2 cup. Now I can eat a cup of beans, no problem. This is likely because when you drastically increase your fiber intake all at once, it will cause digestive distress. In contrast, a gradual increase in fiber intake gives your gut time to adjust.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps the soluble fiber found in beans to move through your digestive system faster, which means less gas will build up.

Rinse canned beans. Rinse those babies thoroughly.

Soak dried beans. You can use canned beans in this recipe and, but if you’re cooking beans from scratch, be sure to soak them in plenty of water for at least 8 hours. It helps remove the oligosaccharides (i.e., the difficult-to-digest starches found in beans).

If you are very sensitive to beans, you can try soaking them much longer, for 24 to 48 hours. The longer you soak them, the easier they are to digest. And you can also change the soaking water a few times during the soaking period, as it will help discard the oligosaccharides that leech from the beans.

And finally, you can try soaking or cooking beans with a strip of kombu or with a pinch of asafetida powder. Kombu is a sea vegetable that contains an enzyme that helps break down those oligosaccharides. You can find it online, grocery shops like Whole Foods, and Asian grocers. Asafetida is an Indian Ayruvedic ingredient that comes from fennel plants. You can find it online or at Indian grocers.

Overhead shot of hand dipping spoon into white bean kale soup with gremolata on side

I’ve had white bean soups before, and they’ve been nice but they usually skimp on flavor. As someone who loves making/eating flavorful curries and Asian-inspired soups, I often find traditional Western soups/stews to be on the bland side, so I always work extra hard to make the flavors pop.

Three ways to make your soup extra flavorful

Bouquet Garni

A bouquet garni is a French term for a bundle of herbs tied together. I often rely on this technique to infuse soups and stews with a deep fragrance, as I find it adds more complex flavors than simply adding some dried herbs.

Dried herbs can come in handy when in a pinch, but I use fresh herbs in my recipes where I know it’ll make a difference. Plus, the dried varieties of certain herbs like rosemary and sage really doesn’t compare to their fresh counterparts.

In this soup, I use rosemary, sage, and bay leaves (dried bay leaves are totally A-okay, that’s what I use) because rosemary and sage pair really well with cannellini beans, but you could also use thyme or even oregano if you can’t find either of those herbs.

If you don’t have kitchen twine, you have two options: (1) don’t use kitchen twine, and just add the herb sprigs into the pot; use tongs to remove them after cooking; or (2) chop the herbs (not the bay leaves) and sauté them when you add the garlic. This latter method requires more prep though.

white bean soup with kale and gremolata in dutch oven with wooden spoon

Gremolata

Another fancy word, I know, I’m sorry! But, it’s made with just four simple, everyday ingredients and takes five minutes to prepare. This time, the word comes from Italian, and it refers to a chopped herb condiment.

Traditionally, it is made with lemon zest, garlic and parsley, though lots of flavor variations abound. I use these three classic ingredients, along with basil, which adds such a nice fresh, fragrant note. Also, like rosemary and sage, it pairs beautifully with cannellini beans.

gremolata on cutting board with knife I make the gremolata while the soup is simmering, and stir it into each bowl when ready to serve. I promise you it will take your soup from good to AHMAAZING. It adds an incredible amount of bright, lemony freshness that makes every bite sing!

Lemon zest itself is not bitter, but the white pith underneath the yellow skin, is quite bitter. So be sure to not zest too deeply, or you’ll end up with pith in your gremolata. And that means your gremolata will be bitter, which means your soup will taste bitter. And the longer the gremolata sits in the soup (e.g., if you have leftovers), the more bitter your soup will taste

bowl of white bean soup with kale and gremolata in bowl with spoon and gremolata on side

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The final flavor booster in this creamy white bean soup is the simplest: extra virgin olive oil. I drizzle a little bit over each bowl right before serving. Since this soup is quite low in fat naturally, a swirl of a good-quality extra virgin olive oil at the end really takes it over the top, flavorwise but also texturewise in a very subtle way.

And I must specify that it be good-quality extra virgin olive oil because a plain old olive oil is not going to do anything for this soup except make it a bit oily. So if you don’t have a good extra virgin olive oil, you’re better off skipping this last part

close up of creamy white bean soup with kale and gremolata in bowl

Three ways to make your soup creamy (but healthy)

As you might have noticed from the title of this recipe, this soup is also creamy! And it’s naturally creamy from just two ingredients (and one cooking technique), and no there’s no coconut milk or cashews involved!

First, cannellini beans. They are one of the creamiest beans out there, and I absolutely adore them. If you cannot find them, you can substitute another white bean, but the soup won’t be as creamy. To fix that, you can try adding more potatoes than called for in the recipe.

Speaking of potatoes, they are the second ingredient behind the creamy texture. 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).

And finally, the last secret to the creamy texture (despite this soup being low in fat) is partially blending the soup! Blending half of the soup before adding the kale thickens up and creamifies the texture of the soup.

To keep this recipe a one-pot meal, I use an immersion blender to blend roughly half the soup. Make sure to not blend all of it, as you want to keep some beans intact and retain some of the texture.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer half of the soup to a stand blender and blend until thick and creamy. Then return the blended soup to the pot.

white bean soup with kale and gremolata in dutch oven

Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Gremolata Recipe Video

Tips for making this soup

I begin the soup in a manner similar to many soups: sautéing onions, garlic, and celery in olive oil. I also add some red pepper flakes just for a slight kick. The amount called for in the recipe is just enough so you get a kick once in awhile, but if you’re very sensitive to spicy food, omit the red pepper flakes.

Be sure to dice the potatoes very finely. If you just roughly chop, they will take more than 15 minutes to get tender.

The recipe includes a range in the amount of vegetable broth: 3 1/2 to 4 cups. It depends on the desired texture you’re going for. Both versions will be thick and chunky and hearty, but 3 1/2 cups broth will bring it closer to a stew than a soup.

The recipe calls for lacinato kale (aka dino kale, aka Tuscan kale) because this feels like a Tuscan soup, so I wanted to use “Tuscan” kale. But curly kale will also work fine, but since it’s tougher, it might need a few more minutes to become tender.

How to Store and Freeze this Soup

If you are planning to eat this soup on the day you make it or in the next day, add the gremolata at the time you finish making the soup.

If you’re planning to enjoy this soup throughout the week, to keep the gremolata flavors as fresh as possible, I recommend sprinkling the gremolata over only the amount of soup you plan to eat on that day. Then, to preserve the gremolata better, store it in a glass jar and cover with extra virgin olive oil. Store that mixture in the fridge for a few days, and you can pour that directly on your soup when ready to reheat and eat. No need to finish the soup with extra virgin olive oil, since you’ll already have some from the gremolata oil.

If you want to freeze the soup for leftovers, do not add the gremolata now. Instead, make the gremolata fresh when you are ready to reheat the soup.

Overhead shot of white bean kale soup with gremolata on side

More cold weather recipes 

In the mood for even more cold weather recipes? Give these a try:

If you give this White Bean and Kale Soup a try, be sure to tag me on Instagram with your recreations and please comment with your feedback below!

Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Gremolata

4.95 from 51 votes
This Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Gremolata is a hearty yet healthy one-pot soup perfect for cold weather! Vegan, gluten-free, and full of flavor that will exceed your expectations! Includes stovetop and Instant Pot instructions.
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Course: Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil*
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 ½ cups 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
  • 3 ½ cups cooked cannellini beans, or 2 (15-ounce) cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can artichoke hearts (400g), drained and chopped finely (optional)
  • 5 cups lacinato kale, shredded
  • Good-quality extra virgin olive oil (for finishing)

Gremolata

  • 1 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves loosely packed
  • ½ cup basil leaves loosely packed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, left whole and peeled
  • 2 organic lemons
  • Coarse or flaky sea salt

Instructions

Stove Top

  • 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, 6-8 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 blender and blend until thick and smooth. Then return this pureed soup back to the pot. Or, you can run 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.

Instant Pot

  • Select the Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and let the pot heat up for a few minutes before adding the olive oil. Once the oil is 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. Add a bit more oil as needed, since the Instant Pot inner pot is stainless steel.
  • Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to 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.
  • Select the Pressure Cook setting at high pressure for 7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the Gremolata (instructions are listed in the stovetop method above).
  • Once the 7-minute timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes and then switch the Pressure Release knob from Sealing to Venting to release any remaining steam.
  • Use an immersion blender throughout half of the soup, but be sure to not blend it all - you want to retain some texture. Or, transfer half of the soup to a stand blender and blend until creamy.
  • Once half of the soup is blended, 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.
  • 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.

Notes

* You may need to use a bit more oil if you’re not using a nonstick pan or the Instant Pot.
** Use 3 1/2 cups of broth (825 mL) if you want the soup to be very thicker; use 4 cups (946 mL) of broth for a slightly thinner but still chunky texture.

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77 comments on Creamy White Bean Soup with Kale and Gremolata

  1. Kim O’Rourke

    I just made and had this soup for dinner. It was amazing! All the different flavors. The Gremolata added so much to the soup. Thanks for such a great recipe.

  2. Ella

    5 stars
    Nisha we really enjoyed the soup it was delicious. Thank you I used my instant pot to make this soup.

  3. san

    5 stars
    this is on regular rotation as it’s so delicious, hearty, easy and cheap. i usually add more chilli and use butter beans if I’m out of cannellini and it’s still great. Also sub in spinach leaves if I don’t have kale. It’s a pretty flexible recipe which is helpful.

  4. Hélène

    5 stars
    Just made it as part of your 7 days vegan challenge and.. Well.. I always thought I didn’t like white beans. But now I’m just obssessed! It was so delicious! Both my boyfriend and me were impressed by all the flavors, and the gremolata on top is just the bomb. Thanks a lot for this recipe! I will do it again for sure.

  5. Tiffany

    5 stars
    This is soup is BOMB!!!! I ate it with homemade bread and it was out of this world!!! I didn’t have sage so substituted with thyme. It’s been a few weeks since I made this and my mouth still waters every time I think about making it again lol

    Also if you don’t have kitchen twine for the bouquet garni, I found that using a big metal tea strainer ball with a lock mechanism works perfectly. Another bonus: it’s reusable!

    Thank you for this incredible recipe!!! Because of you I am even considering going meatless 😆

  6. Shannon Epperson

    5 stars
    I made this as part of your 7-Day Vegan Challenge. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS and satisfying! This will be added to our regular rotation for sure. I didn’t have celery so I subbed a red bell pepper and it was great. Thank you!!!

  7. Lena

    5 stars
    I really enjoyed it, so flavourful:)

  8. Laura

    Do you think this would work with dry small white beans? I have them soaking on the counter right now; wondering if you think the creaminess or flavor would take a hit. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Laura, flavor will be relatively similar, but you might not get the full creaminess factor that you’d get from cannellini beans. That said, several readers have made this creamy white bean soup with canned navy beans/smaller white beans and still enjoyed it!

  9. Ozden

    5 stars
    I love this soup. I have a recipe that I use for white beans, and that’s how I’ve been cooking them all my life! This is definitely a very nice change! My husband loved it too, he shook my hand (ref Paul Hollywood handshake haha!)
    I had to skip the raw garlic in the gremolata, but even then with the lemon zest and a little bit of lemon juice gave it such a nice twist. Thank you for the recipes!

    1. Dani

      I was slightly skeptical with the amount of steps (and I cook A LOT) for a post late work night meal. But SO worth it. Definitely one of my favorite soups I have ever made. I didn’t have whole lemons so I zested limes and also added a few splashes of organic lemon juice I had in the fridge. I also added nooch and a splash of apple cider vinegar with the kale as well as some other spices when I cooked the veggies (dried sage, basil and oregano instead of the Bouquet garni). Used the instant pot method and turned out BOMB. Will def be making again… also agree with everyone here that the gremolata was key. Okay, novel over. Thank you!

  10. Jennifer Nelson

    5 stars
    This was a delicious soup! While I’ve made kale/white bean soup countless times, this one really stood out. The addition of the artichokes, the lovely, though simple gremolata to finish. Just delightful. Some have commented that it was complicated to make, I disagree. The effort involved is more than worth the finished soup. Thanks for a wonderful, delicious and nutritious recipe.

  11. Lindsay

    5 stars
    Just had this for lunch. Absolutely delicious, even with dried herbs and no artichokes. Lots of flavour and the perfect amount of spice. Thank you 🙏

  12. Brittany

    Hello! How long would you suggest eating 2 tbsp of beans/lentils before increasing your intake for those of us who are a little sensitive?

  13. Joy Hanson

    Thanks for the healthy recipe. Do you have the nutrition facts for this recipe? Calories, carbs, etc.? I’m counting calories, and that would help a lot.Thanks!

  14. Iralyn

    5 stars
    Yessss, so delicious & simple! The Gremolata definitely makes it! We cooked it without the red pepper flakes for our toddler and she loved it (we put them on top of ours with the Gremolata). Will definitely make again!

  15. Molly

    5 stars
    Wow. Just wow. It was absolutely delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

  16. Toni Gilliam

    5 stars
    Hi,
    This soup was Really delicious 😋 I used the canned beans for my soup. I agree, the gremolata complimented this dish very well. I loved all of the complex flavors.
    I cannot wait to make the other dishes. Finding your page will help me happily settle into my vegan lifestyle.

  17. Tara smith

    5 stars
    I just tried your soup. It was very good. So refreshing with the gremeleta. I will be making it again. Thank you for sharing.

    Tara

  18. Anne Bonilla

    5 stars
    This was fantastic! We didn’t have parsley or fresh basil, but improvised with dried basil in the gremolata. Used 4 cups of broth. Big hit and so affordable. My daughter wants the recipe for college!

  19. Kitty

    5 stars
    The five stars I gave this recipe is an accurate description. This was an excellent soup: tasty, creamy, interesting, colourful and semi-crunchy (because of the kale). I did add the red pepper flakes and they added to the taste, but it is the gremolata mostly which is a delish and fun addition (btw, did not use the artichokes). I am Greek and therefore a compulsive cook, so I used dry beans which I boiled a little in water with a broth cube. I then used the liquid as the broth in the soup. Mmmmm….thank you for sharing this great keeper of a recipe!

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