A hearty bowl of soup full of Tuscan flavors, this white bean kale soup is one of the best fall soups to make. It's a delicious, comforting stew that starts with bacon, an Italian seasoning blend, and creamy white beans topped with Parmesan before serving. You won't be able to eat just one bowl!
The big glass of white wine I drink while I stir this white bean kale soup in the pot is a big reason why I love this soup so much. I add a splash of white wine to the pot while I cook, of course. There's truly nothing better than a soup with a chicken broth base that is bolstered by bacon, white wine and Parmesan cheese.
The big Tuscan flavors of this soup include bacon (in Italy, they would use pancetta), cannellini beans, extra virgin olive oil, and Italian seasoning blend. When they all come together in a steaming bowl of soup, it is heavenly!
How to Make White Bean Kale Soup
You only need one pot to make this incredible soup. The ingredients are very simple and easy to find. If you have some kale growing in your garden, this is an excellent use for it!
A well-stocked pantry can help you bring this white bean kale soup together with just a few minutes of prep work.
- Bacon. Three strips of bacon, chopped into small pieces. Black pepper crusted bacon is my personal favorite. I don't recommend turkey bacon for this recipe, because we need the fat to melt out of the real bacon as the base for the soup.
- Onion. One medium yellow or white onion, but do not use a sweet onion.
- Garlic. Two fresh cloves of garlic, minced.
- Italian Seasoning. This is a pre-made spice blend that consists of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram. When you add it to the pot, crush it between your hands to release the oils from the dried leaves. I also use this in my Chickpea Noodle Soup recipe, too.
- Red Pepper Flakes. This is optional, to add a bit of extra spice and heat.
- White Wine. I add ½ cup of a white wine that I like to drink to the soup broth. Then, I serve the rest of the wine with dinner.
- Chicken Broth. Three cups of store-bought or homemade chicken broth.
- White Beans. You need 2 15-ounce cans of white beans, rinsed and drained. It can be navy beans, cannellini beans, or any small white beans.
- Kale. Two cups of chopped fresh lacinato, dinosaur or curly kale with the stems removed, about 2 big handfuls.
- Parmesan Cheese. I like to serve this white bean kale soup with Parmesan cheese at the table. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top is key, too!
I make this soup recipe in a big, heavy Dutch oven soup pot. A one pot meal this delicious is just 30 minutes away!
In a large Dutch oven or soup pot, add the chopped bacon pieces and then turn then eat to medium. Cook, while stirring occasionally until the bacon renders its fat.
When the bacon is about half-way cooked (before it starts crisping up), add the chopped onion and cook until it softens, about 7-8 minutes while stirring occasionally. Lower the heat if it starts to burn around the edges.
Next, add the minced garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Saute for about 30 seconds, just to waken up the spices and lightly cook the garlic.
Add the white wine to deglaze the pan. It will simmer quickly, so be sure to use your spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the pan. This adds so much flavor to the soup!
Finally, stir in the chicken broth and rinsed beans. Give everything a good stir and bring it to a simmer over medium or medium-low heat.
Just before serving, turn off the heat and add the chopped kale. Let it cook in the hot liquid for 2-3 minutes, just to wilt. Serve the white bean kale soup with plenty of Parmesan cheese.
A very heavy, deep Dutch oven pot is a great investment. If not, a deep soup pot is just fine for this recipe. The reason I prefer a Dutch oven is because it's heft means that is holds heat for a long time and helps everything cook faster.
- Vegetarian/ Vegan - You can omit the bacon in this recipe and replace it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then, to mimic the smokiness of bacon, stir in 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth. If you're vegetarian, serve it with Parmesan. If you're vegan, serve it with an extra drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt (or a great store-bought vegan Parmesan cheese).
- Beans - Any type of white beans work in this soup, because they're soft and creamy. I wouldn't use chickpeas here because they're a bit too firm. Pinto beans would be a great swap, because they're soft like white beans.
- Greens - I use dinosaur or lacinato kale the most in the white bean kale soup, but if all you have is spinach, that works just as well! Use 3-4 ounces of fresh baby spinach, or ¼ pound of frozen spinach.
Storage: White Bean Kale Soup
This soup keeps up to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. You can also portion it into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, place in fridge overnight to thaw, and then heat on stove top, adding extra chicken broth as needed.
Here's my collection of all bean soup recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions about White Bean Kale Soup
You absolutely can! It doesn't take long, because the white beans are already cooked. Simply use the SAUTE function to cook the bacon, onion, garlic and herbs. Add the white wine and reduce before turning off the pot. Add all remaining ingredients (except kale) and place the lid on the instant pot, turning the valve to SEAL. Toggle to high pressure and cook for 5 minutes. After a forced pressure release, remove the lid and stir in the kale.
The recipe card below contains exact calorie information. According to my calculation, this recipe makes 8 bowls of white bean kale soup clocking in at 200 calories per bowl. This calorie count does not include any Parmesan cheese added on top, however.
- 3 strips of bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped (1 cup finely diced onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups chopped lacinato kale
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- In a large Dutch oven, add the chopped bacon and turn the heat to medium. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until it renders its fat and starts to turn reddish in a few places. It will be about half-way cooked.
- Add the chopped onion, stirring often, and cook for 7-8 minutes until softened.
- Stir in the minced garlic, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, while stirring.
- Add the white wine and cook until reduced by about half.
- Finally, stir in the chicken broth and beans. Bring to a simmer.
- Stir in the kale and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until it wilts. Remove the soup from the heat, and ladle into serving bowls, garnishing with Parmesan cheese.
Vegetarian/ Vegan - You can omit the bacon in this recipe and replace it with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then, to mimic the smokiness of bacon, stir in 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth. If you're vegetarian, serve it with Parmesan. If you're vegan, serve it with an extra drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt (or a great store-bought vegan Parmesan cheese).
Greens - I use dinosaur, lacinato or curly kale the most in the white bean kale soup, but if all you have is spinach, that works just as well! Use 3-4 ounces of fresh baby spinach, or ¼ pound of frozen spinach.
Storage: This soup keeps up to 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container. You can also portion it into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, place in fridge overnight to thaw, and then heat on stove top, adding extra chicken broth as needed.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 203Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 892mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 8gSugar: 2gProtein: 13g