A simple, flavorful recipe for kale and white bean soup, with lots of lemon, garlic, and herbs – perfect healthy, comfort food! Gluten free and vegetarian options.

two bowls of white bean soup with kale from forkknifeswoon.com

A cozy kale and white bean soup with lemon

In the late afternoon, before the ever-earlier evenings steal the last bits of our luminous, Northern, blue light, I’ve been in the habit of taking the pup to the off-leash dog park near our house.

Yesterday, the Honey was home a bit early from work and we bundled up to go; me in thermal tights, a long sweater, down jacket, thick cashmere/wool socks, fleece boots, and double-wrapped scarf, him in jeans and a t-shirt.

We walked the perimeter of the park – a mile or so through tall grass, past fading, wild, blackberry bushes and overhanging lichen-flecked pines. The pup ran spastic, looping circles ahead of us, stopping every few yards to look back and make sure we were following. We’d hit the park a little later than usual, and with the sun quickly setting, had it mostly to ourselves. The air was still and chilly. Peaceful. The scent of pine linger-

“Noooooooo… not in the – ughhhhh.” The Honey sighed, defeatedly.

moody apple orchard

The pup had stopped. The mud puddle his paws stood planted in extended across both edges of the path, and looked at least a few inches deep. As if to signal with full certainty that this was not in fact an accident, he plopped down into it, legs outstretched, and happily wiggled, properly covering his entire belly in the dark, murky goo. He wallowed there, looking particularly pleased with himself, until we caught up to him, and ruined all of the glorious fun.

As we made our way back to the parking lot, the pup dripping with sludge water, and planned our tag-team, backyard, freezing water hose-off, I took some consolation in the fact that we had several clean dog towels, and, more importantly, dinner was already cooked and waiting for us. And it was this flavorful, nourishing, kale and white bean soup.

fresh kale leaves

Why you’ll love this kale and white bean soup

The base of this white bean soup starts with quick caramelized onions, which are layered upon with garlic, lemon and dried herbs – rosemary, thyme and Greek oregano – before simmering away in a rich chicken stock. You’ll want to use the most flavorful stock you can find – or better yet make your own – as it forms a bulk of the soup’s flavor.

For time and convenience’s sake, I used canned (precooked) beans, but you could certainly substitute dried beans. Simply increase the volume of stock and cooking time. I generally prefer Lacinato kale – the more delicate, darker-hued, flatter-leafed, Italian variety – also sometimes called Tuscan kale or Tuscan cabbage. It can also be referred to as dinosaur kale, due to the bumpy, reptilian quality of the leaves, which, is probably my favorite moniker.

If kale isn’t your thing, try using milder greens. Spinach and Swiss Chard come to mind, but really any dark leafy green will be well suited to this lemony, garlicky soup.

a bowl of white bean soup with kale from forkknifeswoon.com

Ingredients in this white bean and kale soup

This cozy Tuscan-inspired soup is easy and healthy, and you likely have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • olive oil, onion, and garlic: forms the base of our soup, and a lovely trifecta to build lots of flavor upon.
  • butter: adds an extra layer of flavor. For a plant based version you can simply swap in olive oil or a vegan butter.
  • herbs: aromatic rosemary, thyme, and oregano. You can also use fresh.
  • lemon: fresh lemon juice adds such brightness. I always reach for Meyer lemons for added sweetness and flavor when available.
  • chicken or vegetable stock: use a really good, rich stock for the best overall flavor. Homemade is even better if you have it.
  • salt and pepper: just a pinch of each intensifies all the other flavors. My favorite salt is Diamond Crystal.
  • cannellini beans: white beans are naturally creamy, and add heartiness to this otherwise veggie-filled soup. Use your favorite white bean here (cannellini, navy, great northern, etc.). Don’t worry about rinsing the beans. The extra starch helps naturally thicken the soup – but if you have trouble digesting beans you can always add that step.
  • kale: adds freshness and nutritional value. I prefer the Lacinato variety, but you can use curly kale, spinach, or Swiss chard as well.

Find all the exact measurements and recipe instructions in the recipe card, below.

two bowls of white bean soup with kale from forkknifeswoon.com

For a creamier soup (without adding cream)

If you’d like a thicker, creamier soup, after adding the beans to the broth (but before the greens), blend together up to half of the soup in a high speed blender. Stir the blended soup back in and voila! The beans will make it extra creamy. No cream or milk or cheese required. (You can also use an immersion blender. Just be sure to leave some of the beans and veggies intact for texture).

Other healthy and delicious soup recipes you’ll love:

If you make this kale and white bean soup, be sure to tag me on Instagram with the hashtag #forkknifeswoon and leave a comment and rating below letting me know how you liked it! ★★★★★ Star ratings are especially helpful because they help others find my recipes too. xo, Laura

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two bowls of white bean soup with kale from forkknifeswoon.com

Lemony Kale and White Bean Soup

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 58 reviews
  • Author: Laura Bolton
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Soup, Savory
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


A simple, flavorful recipe for kale and white bean soup, with lots of lemon, garlic, and herbs – perfect healthy, comfort food! Gluten free and vegetarian options.


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or sweet onion, minced
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 small lemon, juiced
  • 4 cups (32 oz) rich chicken or vegetable stock
  • kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 (15 oz) cans cooked cannellini beans, drained (not rinsed)
  • 11/2 cups (loosely-packed) kale (or sub. spinach or Swiss chard), removed from rough stems and torn into small pieces


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent and just beginning to brown.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  3. Add the butter, and as it melts, stir in the herbs. Let cook for another minute or two until the onions are lightly golden.
  4. Add the lemon juice followed by the stock and stir to combine. Cover, and bring the stock to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, and let simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Add the white beans and torn kale leaves, and continue to simmer until warmed through, about 3-5 minutes. If using a more delicate green, such as spinach, add right before serving. Serve warm with crusty bread. Enjoy!!