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White Bean Soup

Get transported to the Tuscan countryside with this rustic white bean soup. Creamy cannellini beans and aromatic veggies are simmered in a fresh, lemony broth with rosemary, baby spinach, and tender ditalini pasta. 

If you love this easy white bean soup recipe, try my cozy lentil soup next!

Why You’ll Love This White Bean Soup Recipe

Craving something soulful and comforting, but also bright, fresh, and a bit like a vacation? It’s this white bean soup. This creamy bean soup is filled with nourishing ingredients, including cannellini beans, fresh rosemary, spinach, and lemon, and finished with plenty of parmesan. Bonjourno! Here’s why you’ll love it:

  • Creamy. Puréeing a portion of the beans is the secret to a thick and creamy white bean soup. No cream or extra thickeners are needed.
  • Flavorful. The broth is flavored with vegetables, fresh thyme and rosemary (even better if they’re from the garden!), garlic, and a touch of earthy turmeric and tingly red pepper flakes. Toss in some pasta and parmesan, and this soup is an all-in-one meal choc full of flavor.
  • One pot. Make this white bean soup in a single pot on the stovetop in just 45 minutes. 
  • Make it your own. On its own, this white bean soup is a vegetarian recipe, but you can easily adapt the ingredients to suit your preferences. Add sausage, swap the spinach for kale, add another protein, etc. I include some of my favorite ideas later in the post.
Ingredients for white bean soup with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Soup Ingredients

Here you’ll find some notes on the important ingredients in this white bean soup recipe. Don’t forget to refer to the recipe card for a printable ingredients list and recipe instructions.

  • Cannellini Beans – You’ll use whole beans in the soup, and blend some of the beans to thicken the broth. Great Northern beans or kidney beans are other good options. Remember to drain and rinse canned beans before you start.
  • Broth – Vegetable broth keeps this recipe vegetarian, or you can use chicken broth or homemade chicken stock.
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion, Carrots, and Celery – Veggies that create an aromatic flavor base in soups and stews. This trio is known as “mirepoix” in French cooking.
  • Herbs – Fresh garlic, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Spices – Vibrant golden turmeric brings flavor, color, and plenty of antioxidants to the soup, plus salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Pasta – Ditalini or another small pasta shape, like conchiglie (shells), rotini, or pastina. You can also skip the pasta if you prefer.
  • Spinach – Fresh or frozen baby spinach. You can also use kale, chard, or collard greens.
  • Lemon Juice – Freshly squeezed lemon juice has the best flavor and brightens up the soup.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Freshly grated, to bring even more richness to the broth.

How to Make White Bean Soup

This recipe takes just a few minutes of prep before the whole soup comes together quickly on the stovetop. Here’s a visual step-by-step to walk you through it, and you’ll find printable directions in the recipe card.

  • Prepare the beans. Start by blending 1 can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans with 1 cup of broth in a blender or food processor, until smooth. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the other cans of beans and set them aside.
  • Sauté the veggies. Next, add your diced onion, carrots, and celery to a large pot with oil. Sauté the vegetables until they’re soft, then add the garlic.
  • Combine. Add your blended beans and whole beans to the pot, along with the rest of the broth, herbs, and seasonings. Bring the pot to a boil and then let the soup simmer.
  • Add the pasta. After 10 minutes, stir in your pasta. Lower the heat and let the pasta cook through, about 15 minutes. Then, wilt in the spinach.
  • Finish and serve! At the end of cooking, stir in fresh lemon juice and freshly grated parmesan. Season to taste one last time with salt and pepper, and then serve.
Close up view of a ladle dipped into a pot of white bean soup.

Tips for Success

Here are a few quick tips for the best homemade white bean soup:

  • Drain and rinse the beans. Canned cannellini beans come in brine that will impart a weird flavor to the soup. To avoid this, strain the beans and give them a good rinse under cold water before you use them.
  • Avoid mushy pasta. The pasta will soften the longer it’s in the soup. If you’re making this soup ahead of time, I recommend leaving out the pasta until you’re ready to serve. Cook the pasta separately and store it in the fridge to add to the soup upon reheating. See the section later on for more storage details.
  • No food processor? No problem. Use a potato masher to mash the beans into the broth instead.
Overhead view of a bowl of white bean soup next to a bowl of parmesan cheese and crostini on a wooden cutting board.

Recipe Variations

This soup is delicious as-is, but you can absolutely change up the ingredients and play around with different add-ins depending on what you prefer. Try these ideas:

  • Ham and white bean soup. Use up leftover baked ham, or buy a smoked ham from the store and dice it up to add to your soup.
  • More protein. Add Italian sausage for white bean and sausage soup, or try ground beef. You can brown the meat at the same time that you sauté the vegetables. Or, stir in cooked, shredded chicken at the end of cooking.
  • Different greens. In place of spinach, add kale to this white bean soup, or another leafy green, like chard, collard greens, or escarole.
Close up view of a bowl of white bean soup.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the thickener in a white bean soup?

Different recipes have different methods for thickening white bean soup. Some call for cornstarch or flour. I love this soup recipe because one of the existing ingredients, blended cannellini beans, acts as the perfect thickener.

Can I use dried cannellini beans?

Yes. If you’re using dried cannellini beans, I recommend soaking the beans in water for at least 5 hours before cooking, or overnight. They’ll expand as they soak, so make sure that you use a big enough bowl! Afterward, drain, rinse, and cook the beans in a fresh pot of water before blending and using them in the soup.

Overhead view of two bowls of white bean soup next to a small bowl of parmesan cheese on a wooden cutting board.

What to Serve With White Bean Soup

I love serving bowls of hearty white bean soup as an entrée with a side of toasted crostini or crusty French bread for dunking. To round out a meal, enjoy this soup with Mediterranean-inspired apps like homemade bruschetta or this creamy Tuscan sausage dip served with seasoned crackers. And if you’re serving this soup as a starter, try these flavorful Caprese chicken breasts with a green salad as a main.

For dessert, tuck into a slice of Italian cream cake, or wash down dinner with an espresso and homemade biscotti.

Overhead close up view of a bowl of white bean soup with a spoon.

Storing and Reheating Leftover Soup

  • Fridge. Store leftover white bean soup airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days. The pasta will become softer over time. Reheat the soup on the stovetop or in the microwave until it’s hot throughout.
  • Freeze. This bean soup freezes well. Once it’s cooled to room temperature, transfer the leftover soup to a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the fridge before reheating.

More Easy Soup Recipes

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Close up view of a bowl of white bean soup.

White Bean Soup

  • Author: Shelly
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Description

A rich and creamy white bean soup recipe made with cannellini beans and aromatic veggies simmered in a lemony broth with rosemary, baby spinach, and ditalini pasta.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans of cannellini beans, divided
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup ditalini pasta
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain 1 can of the beans. Place the beans in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of the broth. Blend until smooth and set aside. Rinse and drain the remaining beans and set these aside as well.
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  3. Add the pureed bean mixture, whole beans, remaining broth, rosemary, thyme, turmeric, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, then add in the ditalini pasta, stir, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.
  4. Add in the spinach and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in the fresh lemon juice and Parmesan cheese, and additional salt and pepper if desired.
  5. Serve immediately.

Notes

Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Keywords: white bean soup, white bean soup recipe

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