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:

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

Lemony Kale and White Bean Soup


Description

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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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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106 Comments

  1. 10.10.20
    Jessica J said:

    I am making this soup for the 4th time know, at least. It’s my weekday lunch (in with my favorite rotations) and it really just makes me fell very well nourished and revitalized! Sometimes, I have to admit, I feel like I cannot get it in my belly fast enough…lol! *Get In There :]*

    ~Thank you

    • 10.11.20
      Laura said:

      Aww, love this! Thanks so much, Jessica! 🙂

  2. 9.24.20
    Andrea said:

    Really like this soup – I make a few variations of white bean/kale/sausage soup and this one is in regular rotation. I enjoy how brothy it is, but do recommend adding the beans and kale a bit earlier – that way they have a chance to soften up more. I also sometimes like to smash some of the beans with the back of a spoon or with a potato masher to give the soup a bit more bulk.
    Double this up and cook it low and slow the next day for a more concentrated flavor, and don’t forget the crusty bread to sop up the broth!

    • 9.29.20
      Laura said:

      Thank you, Andrea!! Smashing some of the beans for a creamier sauce is a great idea. And definitely agree that crusty bread along side is a key requirement 🙂

  3. 8.26.20

    Delicious. I would make this again. I added mushrooms for additional texture but the recipe with its herbs, onion , beans ,kale , broth and lemon really stands on its own.

    • 8.26.20
      Laura said:

      Thank you so much, Deborah!! Adding mushrooms sounds great!

  4. 5.17.20
    Marlene Nauts said:

    The soup is so easy to make, and so flavorful! I only use one can of beans, and I still don’t feel deprived. I make my own veggie broth from scratch, and I crave this stuff! Sometimes I use kale and sometimes I use collard greens. Experiment with the different kinds of greens, for different flavors!

  5. 1.11.20
    Tina Weinstein said:

    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.

  6. 12.30.19
    Beth said:

    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!

  7. 6.12.19
    Jen said:

    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.

  8. 5.30.19
    Karin said:

    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.

  9. 5.22.19
    Christina said:

    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 🙂

  10. 3.26.19
    Becky M said:

    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😊)

    • 4.14.19
      Laura said:

      That sounds delicious 🙂

  11. 2.21.19
    Natalie said:

    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.

    • 11.10.19
      Cara said:

      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!

      • 11.17.19
        Laura said:

        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?

  12. 2.10.19
    Heather C. said:

    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!!

  13. 1.23.19
    Di said:

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

  14. 1.22.19
    Debbie said:

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

  15. 11.19.18
    Carina said:

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

  16. 11.12.18
    Becca said:

    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!

  17. 10.29.18
    Kzilla said:

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

    • 10.30.18
      Laura said:

      Thank you!! Adding mushrooms and orzo sounds yummy 🙂

  18. 10.21.18
    Simon said:

    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.

    • 10.30.18
      Laura said:

      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!

  19. 9.23.18
    Annie said:

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

    • 9.23.18
      Laura said:

      So happy to hear it! Thanks, Annie!!

  20. 9.18.18
    Kk said:

    Just made this- delicious! Thank you for sharing.

  21. 6.23.18
    Amber said:

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

    • 6.29.18
      Laura said:

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

  22. 1.22.18
    MG said:

    Holy moly was this good. I tweeked it a bit by using vegetable broth and adding butternut squash and extra lemon. Then topped it off with a little evoo. Served with roasted garlic crusty bread. It blew me away. Keeper recipe!

  23. 12.29.17
    KVC said:

    Great recipe! Delish, easy & inexpensive! Thank you!

  24. 12.5.17
    Hannah said:

    This is my favorite soup to make! It’s tangy and hearty and delicious. I’ve made it with spinach as well, and it’s just as good. Perfect served with a piece of warm, crusty bread.

  25. 10.24.17
    JJ said:

    I added carrots and a pinch of paprika powder. Will eat this with quinoa tomorrow for lunch. Can’t wait!!

  26. 7.4.17
    Claudia Phillips said:

    I made this two days ago and I love it! I added extra lemon juice because I love the taste of lemons. It needed lots of salt and pepper. The texture is great. I think that’s because the beans are not rinsed so there is a little bit of thickness added. It is delicious and heartier when served with a little brown rice which I usually keep in the freezer (pre-cooked). This soup is just as good leftover. I’ll be making this often. Thanks.

  27. 4.25.17

    I have so many tins of white beans and was looking for a way to use them. Thanks for the recipe 😁

  28. 3.9.17
    April said:

    Great base recipe! It’s so versatile. I added a can of roasted tomato, a red bell pepper, and some Greek lamb sausage. The lemon really brightens the dish. I also added fresh parsley at the end.

  29. 10.19.16
    SophieMTL said:

    This soup is amazing !! I just eat this the moment i type it ! the lemon juice change everything !! Thanks for the recipe !!

    • 10.19.16
      Laura said:

      Thanks so much, Sophie!!

  30. 10.16.16
    Cat said:

    I was craving a twist on this hearty soup, and I love the citric *twist* the lemon adds!!
    Reading your story was just as nourishing. I’m a Seattle Native, living in LA and feeling nostalgic for my drizzly Northwest on this cool, cloudy weekend… that will, of course, be followed by an unseasonably nasty heatwave.

    • 10.16.16
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Cat! So happy to hear that!

  31. 10.11.16
    Carrie said:

    Made this for lunch. Amazing! It is perfect and quick as written but next time I will make my beans from scratch as I think they are much more flavorful than canned. Thanks for a keeper!

    • 10.11.16
      Laura said:

      That’s so nice to hear! Thank, Carrie! 🙂

  32. 8.16.16
    Danah said:

    This was SO delicious! I added cubed sweet potato as the broth was simmering, along with cumin (I love cumin with lemon) and it was incredible. Served it alongside bread and it was a huge hit! Thank you for sharing (:

    Danah

    • 8.16.16
      Laura said:

      I’ve never thought to add sweet potatoes, but that combination sounds so cozy and delicious! Thanks, Danah!

  33. 3.6.16
    Jesús said:

    Muy buena ls presentación

  34. 2.17.16
    Meryl said:

    This soup recipe is perfect! I have made this soup five times in the past 12 weeks–I can hardly get enough of it. It’s rich in flavor, nourishing, but not heavy on the tummy.

    • 2.24.16
      Laura said:

      Thank you so much, Meryl!! So glad to hear you are enjoying this one – it’s one of my very favorites this time of year, too.

  35. 1.24.16
    Londsey said:

    Yum! I didn’t have an onion or chicken broth, so I used dried onion and veggie broth with a chicken bouillon. I also added chunks of cooked dark chicken meat with the kale. My kids gobbled 2 servings each! Perfect winter soup while watching the NFC Championship game!! Thank you!

    • 1.26.16
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Londsey! So glad to hear you and the little ones loved the soup!

  36. 11.12.15
    Barbara said:

    I made this yesterday. It was a perfect soup for a fall day. I think the ratio of ingredients was very thoughtful. I usually approach soup and salads as an artistic “no recipe required” endeavor. That ends up great sometimes and sometimes the result is heavy handed on the herbs and just a muddy concoction. This soup is bright and lemony and earthy at the same time. No overpowering flavors. Thanks for sharing. I’m so happy I found your blog!

    • 11.13.15
      Laura said:

      Thanks so much, Barbara! I’m so happy to have you as a reader!

  37. 10.10.15
    Lisa said:

    My mom made a vegan version of this for some bands we were hosting. It was so popular at lunch, they asked us if they could have it again with dinner. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!

    • 10.10.15
      Laura said:

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks, Lisa!

  38. 4.20.15
    Sherry said:

    I think the secret it to let it sit a few days before eating. I tried some right away after making it and did not like it at all, tasted very flat. But after a few days, it transformed, infused with lemon, and now I can’t eat enough of it. Very yummy and I’m so happy I found another great recipe for kale/garden greens!

  39. 3.29.15
    Amy said:

    What is the serving size of this soup to match the nutritional info? Thanks!

  40. 1.30.15
    Melissa said:

    So delicious! I added some sliced fennel that I had on hand which was so yummy. Thanks for this simple, hearty recipe!

    • 1.31.15
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Melissa! Will definitely have to try with fennel!

  41. 12.20.14
    Ellen G said:

    I only had 1 can of beans. Since it’s too cold and I am too lazy to go to back the store, I used sliced mushrooms to substitute for that missing can. Delicious.

    • 12.20.14
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Ellen! So glad you enjoyed!

  42. 12.8.14
    Appu said:

    Just read about ur blog. Immediate and instant fan. Loved the way u write. And express. All the best.

  43. 11.8.14

    Oh.my.gosh. This soup looks absolutely divine. Pinning this so I can make it this week!

    • 11.10.14
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Kelly! Hope you enjoy!

  44. 11.3.14

    This sounds like the perfect dinner on a chilly day! I love warming and hearty soups now that the temperatures are dropping (we even had our first snow on the weekend!).

  45. 11.3.14

    I love beans!!! This soup sounds like dinner tonight. Pinned!

    • 11.3.14
      Laura said:

      Me too! Thank you, Oriana!

  46. 11.2.14

    Soup is the best during the winter, and this kale and white bean soup sounds amazing! I especially love the lemon in there.

  47. 11.1.14
    Kelly said:

    Perfect fall/winter comfort food. Just pinned! Beautiful photos too!

  48. 10.31.14

    Bean and kale soup is one of my absolute favorites! With this being a chilly night I’d love to curl up with this!

  49. 10.31.14
    Laura said:

    Me too! Soup is just about all I want to eat for dinner this time of year…

  50. 10.31.14
    Kim Ramseyer said:

    Thanks Laura! I’m trying to cook/eat/grow more beans.

    • 10.31.14
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Kim! What kind of beans are you growing?

  51. 10.31.14
    Patty B said:

    Oh, looks yummy! I love bean soups but especially navy bean soups, so I ‘m going to try this with navy beans soon!

    • 10.31.14
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Patty!! I hope you enjoy!

  52. 10.31.14

    This soup is gorgeous! Perfect fall weather comfort food. Pinned!

  53. 10.31.14

    Love the imagery …. if the soup is half as good as the dog story, it’s a winner. Definitely cooking this weekend.

    • 10.31.14
      Laura said:

      Thanks, Lydia! The pup just turned two and is going through a resurgent puppy/teenager phase. He’s a handful sometimes! I hope you like the soup 🙂

  54. 10.31.14

    Love how simple this is. It would be perfect after a fall hike with a cup of tea. Delightful!

  55. 9.19.16
    Johanna said:

    Whoa! I just stopped by your post again to leave a comment and let you know this recipe helped me come up with my own and that I mentioned your post on my blog 🙂

    Thanks for the inspiration!

Hi! I'm Laura, the food-obsessed cook, writer, and photographer behind Fork Knife Swoon, where you'll find mostly sweet, seasonal recipes and stories from my Northern Virginia kitchen.

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