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 1/8 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 1/2 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 1/8 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 1/2 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
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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
- 1/4 of a medium-large red bell pepper finely diced
- 3 large cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 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
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 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 1/2 cups of soup; there are 4 servings and each serving is about 1 1/3 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 1/8 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 1/2 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.
Very good! I will definitely keep this recipe.
Kim Drenth says
I just made this and it was yummy. I made a couple adjustments. I doubled the recipe to use all the veg. I used pancetta. I used equal parts oil and butter. I let all ingredients cook together on low for an hour. It developed a nice fond for extra flavor. I doubled up on the cream and added more until I got the color I wanted. Will def make this again!
I made your White Bean Soup tonight and it’s great! However, mine is red and your picture makes it look white or clear broth . I used just one small tomato and the one TBS of tomato paste as the recipe called for, and it’s tomato looking. Maybe I should leave out the tomato paste?
Geri, I’m so happy you enjoyed this soup! The soup was a pinkish color for me, as seen in the pictures. The 1 tablespoon tomato paste and 1 small tomato gave it a light pink color, but definitely not red. It’s up to you if you want to omit the tomato products for a lighter color. I think it would be delicious either way! :)
The flavor is delicious! I omitted the tomatoes and tripled the recipe to make a large pot and leftovers. It took more time than I thought to make. I work full time so I won’t be making this on a weeknight, but no problem on the weekend!
I make this soup bi-weekly at least! It is so delicious!!
Easy and delicious! I didn’t have turkey bacon ( or ANY bacon, for that matter) so I finely chopped leftover baked ham and it worked out beautifully! I served it with rosemary and olive oil baked bread from the supermarket bakery and my whole family ( including my super picky son) loved it! It’s a keeper.
Deb H says
I have made this many times and my family loves it. I have some kale from my garden and I’m going to add it at the end of the simmer stage and just let it wilt. We love soup recipes with kale so I assume this will work also. I’ll post more after we try it.
Excellent soup. Easy to make
Great recipe. I used the smoked paprika instead of the turkey bacon and it tasted great. For my non-vegetarians I cooked a few pieces of bacon on the side as a option to crumble on top…that was good also. I also added corn and a hint of tarragon.
This was really good! I added more veggies and doubled the beans.
This looks divine. Will be making this soon!!
I can’t wait to make the white bean soup thank you for letting me try to download this
dhira Chakraborty says
I had some friends coming over. There was already some boiled black eyed beans in the fridge. I woke up wanting to have something warm since it’s been raining here. Looked up a chowder recipe which uses beans, and reached here. It was an absolute hit with the hungry junta. I made a few alterations using things I had at hand. I didn’t have parsley, so used oregano and added in 2 tsp of the fajita mix I had. It gave the chowder a lovely mildly spicy flavour. Instead of red onion I threw in the spring onions lying in the fridge. This recipe is so so flexible and yields a delightfully tasty chowder.
This was really good. I didn’t add the cream. Next time I’ll skip the oregano.
Barb from CT says
This is the best creamy soup ever! I used light red kidney beans that I on hand, my family raved how goid it was!
This is a phenomenal soup! It has a ton of deep flavor and was perfect for a chilly night and served with rosemary focaccia. I’m so glad I made a double batch so I can enjoy leftovers this week!
This chowder is fantastic! Thanks for sharing!
Elizabeth, I’m so happy you enjoyed it, thanks so much for letting me know!
Ruth Reaves says
Made this for dinner tonight, it was delicious. I had to use regular bacon since I didn’t have any turkey bacon. Will definitely make this again.
Can I please have the fat description and calories included. Have to add it to my Weight watchers points.
Made it tonight very taste, but my veggies weren’t cooked through well. Gotta boil it a little longer next time. But luv it. Tasty!
Cynthia, Thanks so much for your comment, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the soup! I just added the nutrition information for this recipe. Also, regarding the veggies not being cooked, be sure to finely dice them like the recipe says and also like it says, be sure to saute them first until starting to soften. I hope this helps!
I tried this recipe and found it to be a regular on the soup rotation. Really great tasting and fairly simple.
Thanks for the recipe
[email protected] says
That chowder looks absolutely delicious , really.
Looks delicious! It’s always so nice to be surprises by a fantastic restaurant when it doesn’t look like anything special from the outside.
Debs @ The Spanish Wok says
Yum, this looks and sounds delicious.
Magic of Spice says
I love little spots like that :) And your chowder looks fantastic!
I use turkey bacon in my seafood chowders all the time…and this recipe of yours would be right up my alley. Bring on more legumes to my table any time ;o)
[email protected]'s Recipes says
The chowder looks so comforting and delectable!
i love a hearty chowder, and i love even more the fact that there’s a reasonable amount of cream in this one!
Michele | Cooking At Home says
This looks perfect for our cool rainy weekend in New Jersey. Thanks,Faith.
Cathy @ Savory Notes says
I’m not usually a fan of beans, but this soup looks so comforting and delicious, I NEED to try it!
Cooking College Chick says
This looks so delicious. I love white bean soup especially on a cold night. I can’t wait to try this!
I love those best kept secrets! And love that this one led you to share aother fabulous recipe with us.
Oh how lovely. :-) I’m in Washington today and it’s been raining and hailing and blowing up a gale. This soup would be heavenly. :-)
Sanjeeta kk says
Have been longing for making a creamy chowder..yours look scrumptious, Faith! Your experience of that restaurant seems something similar to mine..I know the next time I pass through it, will certainly check in..
I always tell me kids the same thing, not to judge a restaurant from the way it looks outside. So nice to see the chowder you recreated at home.
Your chowder looks hearty and delicious Faith! Great recreation. That’s been my experience too! There’s a great family run Italian restaurant inside a run-down shack that I must of passed 1,000’s of times in my life afraid to go in. Big mistake. Now I know.
We are expecting heavy rains in the next few days, and this soup would be perfect to enjoy during our indoor time.
Tracy Wood says
Just found your blog! Lovely! I also just pinned this recipe – my kind of food. I am your newest follower!
Amy (Savory Moments) says
I agree that those are often some of the best restaurants. Your soup looks delicious, too! Also, I have an award waiting for you on my blog.
Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking says
This bean soup looks so delicious, Faith. I love the colorfulness of it, and the ingredients you used. Hearty, comforting and I bet very flavorful. Thanks for sharing!
Heidi @ Food Doodles says
This seriously looks incredible! I’ve been craving some kind of creamy chowder for a while now. I do like clam chowder, except the clams are my least favorite part if that makes any sense, lol. This looks perfect for me – I’ll be trying it soon!
The chowder looks amazing! I think you’re 100% correct–often the best food comes from the shadiest looking (from the outside) places… We have a few of those secret gems to go to too…
Jill @ MadAboutMacarons says
Loving that list of ingredients and it looks super tasty. Sounded a wonderful restaurant. I went to a Michelin place last weekend and the paint was off the walls outside, pretty run down looking but inside…. Whoah. I’m just name-dropping since hubby doesn’t take me out often, Lol. Great you discovered this chowder to share with us!
Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) says
This is going on my to-make-soon list. Love everything about it. :)
Bean chowder? This sounds great!!
Nicole, RD says
LOL! I have the same opinion on “shady” looking restaurants. They’re almost always the best. I actually look for shadiness for good food, lol! This looks delicious, Faith!
Alyssa @ Everyday Maven says
So true about hole in the wall restaurants! This looks yummy – I love chowder so much. We spent a lone week in coastal Maine a few years ago and I think I stopped at almost every chowder stand to “taste” how theirs compared. lol!
5 Star Foodie says
WHat a gorgeous chowder! It sounds super delicious, very flavorful.
Agreed! Some of my favorite restaurants in Charleston are total dives. The soup looks absolutely perfect. White beans are so darn comforting
It may be getting warmer here but I’m somehow still craving thick delicious chowders…I can definitely see why this was such a memorable part of your meal! Looks amazing!
it looks so comforting and tasty! A great idea.
I just made your soup and it is amazing! Will definitely make again. Thanks for sharing!