This Italian-inspired creamy White Bean Soup recipe is a hearty and satisfying chowder with white beans and vegetables. It's quick and easy enough to whip up on a weeknight!
Is this it?, I asked, bewilderedly looking out the car window at what could have been any dive in any sketchy area of any town.
With a nod, Mike assured me that this was in fact the place.
I was pretty excited though, not only because he had promised me several times that no matter what it looks like from the outside, I really would love this restaurant. But also because in my experience, restaurants that look shady on the outside often have the best food!
I like to think of them as best-kept secrets.
Mike was right – I had one of the best meals that night that I’d had in a while. The sea bass (always one of my favorites) was cooked to perfection, and the cannoli was perfectly crisp outside with a just-sweet-enough filling. But the highlight of my meal was definitely the soup I had to start the meal.
It was a creamy Italian White Bean Soup, full of vegetables and beans, with a hint of smoky flavor. It was the perfect thing to combat a chilly evening.
Here’s my version of that mind-blowingly delicious creamy White Bean Soup.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's quick and easy to make in just 45 minutes!
- This restaurant-quality chowder will make you think you're in your favorite bistro.
- With beans as the main protein source, this is an economical meal.
- It's freezer-friendly. This soup is perfect for portioning into individual servings and freezing so you can thaw it for a quick meal on a busy day!
The Best White Bean Soup Recipe
With beans for protein and a variety of vegetables, this White Bean Chowder is hearty and flavorful. It’s creamy, thick, rich, and completely satisfying. And bonus, it’s very easy to make!
- Olive oil
- Turkey bacon
- Red bell pepper
- Fresh thyme
- All-purpose flour
- Vegetable stock
- Tomato paste
- Bay leaf
- Dried oregano
- Black pepper
- Canned cannellini beans
- Heavy cream
- Fresh parsley
Step 1: Crisp the bacon
Heat the oil. Add the turkey bacon and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Omit the oil if using beef bacon or pork bacon.)
Step 2: Sauté the Vegetables
Add the onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper and cook until starting to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 3: Add the Aromatics and the Flour
Turn the heat down to medium, stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes more. (For the gluten free version, omit the flour.)
Step 4: Simmer
Add the stock, tomato, tomato paste, bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper, and beans, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer uncovered 15 minutes.
This is the time to mash a few of the beans against the side of the pot if you want a thicker soup.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Turn the heat off and stir in the cream and parsley. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired. Serve.
Different Variations of This Recipe
Vegan White Bean Soup
For the vegan version:
- Omit the turkey bacon.
- Add ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika to give it a smoky complexity.
- Use canned full-fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream.
Gluten Free White Bean Soup
To make this White Bean Soup gluten free:
- Omit the flour.
- Make sure the vegetable stock you use is gluten free.
- Mash about ½ cup of the beans to give the soup a creamy texture.
White Bean Clam Chowder
To make White Bean Clam Chowder, you can either:
- Add a can of rinsed, drained white beans to your favorite clam chowder, or
- Add clams to this creamy White Bean Soup recipe.
If you want to add clams to this recipe, you can either use raw shucked clams or clams in the shell. Simmer raw shucked clams for about 5 minutes in this chowder. For clams in the shell, steam them in a separate pot, and then add the steamed open clams in their shells to this chowder.
Vegan White Bean Corn Chowder
To make this recipe into Vegan White Bean Corn Chowder, make these changes to the recipe below:
- Omit the turkey bacon and add ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika.
- Use canned full-fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream.
- Add 1 (15 ounce) can of corn, rinsed and drained.
- This recipe is great for meal prep. Whip up a double batch of this Italian White Bean Soup on the weekend and have it for dinner, and then save the leftovers for weekday lunches.
- Instead of turkey bacon, you can use any type of bacon you like; beef bacon is my personal favorite! If you use pork or beef bacon, omit the olive oil.
- If you don't have cannellini beans, you can use a can of any type of white beans (rinse and drain it!).
- This soup is easy to make gluten free. Omit the flour and mash about ½ cup of the beans to give the soup a creamy texture.
White Bean Soup FAQs
What is the Thickener in White Bean Soup?
We use a few different thickeners in this recipe: a little flour, a touch of tomato paste, cannellini beans, and a splash of heavy cream.
You can omit the flour and this soup will be thick enough because of all the other thickeners we use.
Are Cannellini Beans and White Beans the Same?
Cannellini beans and white beans aren't the same thing. Cannellini beans, which are also called white kidney beans, are a type of white bean, but there are lots of other distinct white bean varietals.
Other kinds of white beans include great northern beans and navy beans.
What Should I Serve with This Chowder?
The sky is the limit when it comes to delicious things to pair with White Bean Bisque! Here are a few ideas:
- Keep it simple with store-bought crusty bread or crackers
- Bake up a loaf of Rosemary-Onion Quick Bread or Savory Thyme and Swiss Cheese Scones
- Whip up your favorite grilled cheese (try Spinach Mozzarella Grilled Cheese with this, it tastes like white pizza)
- Serve up this soup with big green salad like Creamy Poppy Seed Kale Slaw with Red Pear, Toasted Pepitas, and Golden Raisins
More Delicious Creamy Soup Recipes to Try
- Weeknight Creamy Sausage and Spinach Soup
- Potato Leek Soup
- Cheesy Tomato-Basil Chowder
- Instant Pot Creamy Tortellini Soup
- Buffalo Chicken Chowder
White Bean Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 slices turkey bacon minced
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 1 medium stalk celery finely diced
- 1 medium carrot finely diced
- ¼ of a medium-large red bell pepper finely diced
- 3 large cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme leaves
- 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock if you prefer
- 1 small tomato finely diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 15 ounce can of cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
- Heat the oil in a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat; add the turkey bacon and cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper and cook until starting to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium, stir in the garlic and thyme, and cook 2 minutes; stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes more.
- Add the stock, tomato, tomato paste, bay leaf, oregano, salt, pepper, and beans, and bring to a boil; turn the heat down and simmer 15 minutes (uncovered). (Mash a few of the beans against the side of the pot if you want a thicker soup.)
- Turn the heat off and stir in the cream and parsley.
- Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as desired; serve.
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 5 ½ cups of soup; there are 4 servings and each serving is about 1 ⅓ cups.
- Turkey Bacon Substitute: Instead of turkey bacon, you can use any type of bacon you like; beef bacon is my personal favorite! If you use pork or beef bacon, omit the olive oil.
- Cannellini Beans Substitute: If you don't have cannellini beans, you can use a can of any type of white beans (rinse and drain it!).
- Vegan Version: Omit the turkey bacon and add ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika to give it a smoky complexity, and use canned full-fat coconut milk instead of heavy cream.
- Gluten Free Version: Omit the flour and make sure the vegetable stock you use is gluten free. Mash about ½ cup of the beans to give the soup a creamy texture.
- Meal Prep: This recipe is a good one to meal prep. Whip up a double batch of this Italian White Bean Soup on the weekend and have it for dinner, and then save the leftovers for weekday lunches.
- Freezer-Friendly: Portion this soup out into individual servings and freeze for a quick meal!
This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on March 15, 2012. I updated it with more information on March 30, 2022.