October 30, 2014

Lemony Kale and White Bean Soup

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

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. Only slight hyperbole.

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

How to make 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 (it took me awhile to jump on the bandwagon), try using subtler greens. Spinach and Swiss Chard come to mind, but really any dark leafy green will be well suited to this lemony, garlicky soup.

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

Be sure to also check out these other healthy, cozy soups:

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

Lemony Kale and White Bean Soup

  • Author: Laura Bolton – Fork Knife Swoon
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Soup, Savory
  • Cuisine: American


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 cannelini 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. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the butter, and as it melts, stir in the herbs. Let cook for another minute or two until the onions are lightly golden.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Keywords: kale and white bean soup, lemon, garlic, herbs, easy, healthy soup, greens, cannelini beans

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  • Reply
    Tina Weinstein
    January 11, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Loved this soup. Wanted to drink the broth. If white beans are not handy, use Garbanzos. I also added 1/2 tsp fennel seeds.
    To make it more spicy, add 1/4tsp red pepper flakes.

  • Reply
    December 30, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    I made this recipe tonight, and it turned out great. I added an entire bunch of kale, so I also put in some extra vegetable broth and olive oil. Since I’m trying to cut out dairy, I left out the butter. I will definitely make this again. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  • Reply
    June 12, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It is such a quick, easy way to get leafy greens and beans in one meal. I used vegetable broth and an entire bunch of chopped kale – a little over 4 cups, so our soup was more leafy, but still delicious as promised.

  • Reply
    May 30, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Good recipe! I added a parmesan rind and some noodles. Next time I make it, I’m going to try a little bit of spice.

  • Reply
    May 22, 2019 at 11:46 am

    This was amazing! I used “Better than Buillon No-chicken” stock. Next time I will need to add more water/stock. I’m not sure what I did wrong but I seemed to have less soup compared to the contents of the soup. But I cannot wait to make this again! Thank you for this wonderful recipe 🙂

  • Reply
    Becky M
    March 26, 2019 at 8:42 pm

    Made with addition of 1/2 tsp of toasted sesame seed oil (adds richness), more thyme and garlic and little more olive oil. Set overnite. Very good, taking to a vegan potluck (didn’t use butter😊)

    • Reply
      April 14, 2019 at 8:45 am

      That sounds delicious 🙂

  • Reply
    February 21, 2019 at 7:07 pm

    Maybe this would be a good soup for someone with dietary restrictions, but it fell flat for us. I couldn’t taste any lemon or garlic and did not enjoy the kale bean combination. I saw all of the glowing reviews here and was excited to try it, but for someone who loves soups such as myself, I was not a fan of this one. I made no substitutions and followed the directions exactly.

    • Reply
      November 10, 2019 at 11:58 pm

      Same, I made this tonight and it was very bland and the lemon flavor didn’t help, it’s missing levels of complexity. I wanted to like it!

      • Reply
        November 17, 2019 at 1:31 pm

        As I mention in the post, because this is a weeknight soup and cooks so quickly, much of the flavor relies on using a rich chicken or vegetable stock. There just isn’t time to develop much depth flavor otherwise. I’m curious if you could share which brand you used?

  • Reply
    Heather C.
    February 10, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    This was so delicious and easy to make! I added in some chopped up chicken breast to make it a bit heartier and the family LOVES it!!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Love it ! Added a Tbs of South River Sweet White Miso at the end of cooking .. Yum

  • Reply
    January 22, 2019 at 4:10 am

    Tried this last night and it was delicious. Thank you for such a simple yet satisfying soup!

  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    I been making this for a while now. This is my favorite soup. I add potatoes to make it more filling tho. Great recipe

  • Reply
    November 12, 2018 at 2:46 am

    This is great! Made it for my lunches this week and am loving the flavor! I used one can canelini beans and one can butter beans since that is what I had on hand. Very simple but flavorful—will make this one a regular on my lunch menu!

  • Reply
    October 29, 2018 at 7:05 pm

    Great recipe! Easy to make and satisfying. I added mushrooms and orzo to make it a bit more substantial.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2018 at 1:09 pm

      Thank you!! Adding mushrooms and orzo sounds yummy 🙂

  • Reply
    October 21, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Excellent recipe. Thank you for making it so easy! I’m vegan, so subbed out butter and used veggie stock. I added avocado at the end too. This was truly a fantastic, satisfying recipe.

    • Reply
      October 30, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      Love that you were able to make it vegan, and so intrigued by your addition of avocado! I love avos but have never thought to try them with this soup. Will give it a go! Thanks, Simon!

  • Reply
    September 23, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    I veganized this and it turned out great! Definitely will make again

    • Reply
      September 23, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      So happy to hear it! Thanks, Annie!!

  • Reply
    September 18, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Just made this- delicious! Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      September 24, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks, KK!! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 23, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Smells great, and I can’t wait for it to be done to eat! I am wondering, can I freeze this?

    • Reply
      June 29, 2018 at 11:28 am

      Yes! I generally like to still add the greens before serving, but that might just be personal preference 🙂

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