Nourishing White Bean and Lemon Soup

5 from 245 votes
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Nourishing White Bean, Escarole, and Lemon Soup is a vegetarian, fiber-filled meal ready in just 40 minutes. A one-pot meal perfect for make-ahead lunches or easy weeknight dinner.Vegetarian Creamy Soup with White Beans, Lemon, and Parmesan

This white bean escarole soup is equal parts hearty and healthy--perfect for cozy weeknight cooking.

Two types of beans lend fiber and protein to make it super satiating, even for the most devout meat lovers.

Also in the mix is a slew of aromatics, bright strokes of lemon, and woodsy notes of rosemary. Escarole adds bulk to the broth, which becomes soft and mellow after being simmered.

And to finish, Parmesan cheese lends savory depth and richness.

This soup has been made and adored by thousands of readers, and I just know you’ll love it!

How to Make White Bean Soup

As with most soups, the longer it sits, the better it gets, making it a great make-ahead candidate.

I love serving it with crusty bread for dipping, and final flourish of Parmesan. 

The IngredientsRecipe ingredients with labels arranged on a wooden serving platter

  • Beans: Any creamy white bean will work, such as cannellini beans (white kidney beans), navy beans, or Great Northern beans. You also need 1 can of chickpeas, which are heartier than most variety of white beans.
  • Broth: Use vegetable broth if making vegetarian, or chicken broth if otherwise.
  • Aromatics: A mix of onion, carrots, and garlic create the aromatic foundation of this soup.
  • Greens: I love using escarole when it’s in season. Otherwise, any hearty green such as kale or chard will work.
  • Lemon: You need the zest and juice of 1 lemon, which adds brightness and acidity. 
  • Rosemary: The woodsy herbal notes of rosemary complement the fresh lemon beautifully. Alternatively, you can use fresh thyme leaves or a little oregano.
  • Parmesan: I strongly suggest splurging on a block of Parmigiano Reggiano for this white bean soup. The nutty flavor and notes of umami are truly unparalleled.

Escarole Substitutions

Escarole is part of the chicory family, which means it’s a bitter green in the same category as endive and radicchio.

Flavor-wise, it’s not as bitter as the other chicories, however is more assertive than, say, romaine.

It’s sold in bunches that look similar to a head of lettuce with wide, wavy leaves.

  • If your grocery store carries it, it’s typically stocked in the bins by the heads of romaine and kale.
  • Another classic white bean escarole soup you may be familiar with is Italian Wedding Soup.

However, if your grocery store doesn’t carry it, don’t freight! You can substitute escarole for kale, chard, or even mustard greens.

The Directions:

Step 1: Blend Beans

Combine 1 can of Cannellini beans and 1 cup of broth in a blender; blend until completely smooth.Beans and broth being blended in a Nutribullet

Step 2: Sauté Aromatics

Heat oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium. Add onions and carrots; cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 6 or 7 minutes.
 
Add garlic, remaining can of Cannellini beans, chickpeas, and rosemary; stir to combine.Carrots, onion, and garlic being sautéed in a Dutch oven

Step 3: Simmer Soup

Stir in blended bean and broth mixture, remaining 3 cups broth, escarole, salt, and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until soup slightly thickens.Chopped escarole being stirred into soup mixtureEscarole, beans, and broth being stirred into white bean escarole soup

Step 4: Add Lemon and Parmesan

Stir in lemon and Parmesan cheese, ladle into bowls, and finish with garnishes of choice!Lemon and Parmesan cheese being added to soup mixture

FAQs and Expert Tips:

How to Thicken White Bean Soup:

I have a special trick for turning broth-based soups into creamy pots of bliss. 

So, what’s the secret? …blended beans! Here is how it’s done:

  • Blend 1 can of cannellini beans with 1 cup of broth and you get a velvety-smooth base to bulk up the soup.
  • I suggest doing this in a small blender, such as Nutribullet, however you can really use any countertop blender.

Not only does this method help scale back on saturated fat, it adds even more fiber and key nutrients!

What can I add to my Bean Soup to Give it More Flavor?

The best flavor boosters for white bean soup are herbs, oils, acids, and hard aged cheeses, such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.

  • Herbs: fresh rosemary, oregano, or thyme.
  • Oil: fruity olive oil or truffle oil.
  • Acid: lemon juice, sherry vinegar, or white wine vinegar.
  • Cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, or Manchego Cheese.

Is White Bean Soup Healthy?

This soup is gluten-free, fiber-filled, and heart healthy.

It’s also brimming with good-for-nutrients, including vitamins C and K, beta carotene, and plant-based protein. Plus, it’s less than 360 calories per cup with a whopping 15 grams of plant protein.

How to Make Dairy Free:

If making dairy-free, you can swap the Parmesan for nutritional yeast and still get that savory edge.

Another option is to stir 1 Tablespoon of white miso paste into the aromatics. This will lend the same salty notes of umami as Parmesan.

Single serving of white bean soup shown in a gold bowl with a gold spoon resting on the side

How to Freeze, Thaw, and Reheat:

Eat a bowl tonight—and freeze a batch for later! Freezing leftovers of this soup will boost your meal prep game, and keep weeknights simple. Plus, it can be thawed and reheated in just 30 minutes.

And since it’s vegetarian, it will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Here is how to freeze, thaw, and enjoy all winter long:

  • Freeze: Cool soup to room temperature, and then seal it a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Lay bag flat in freezer, and freeze for up to 2 months.
  • Thaw: Microwave soup in bag at 50% power for 3 to 4 minutes, or until pliable.
  • Reheat: Pour soup into a saucepan and heat over medium until soup is warmed through. At this point, I love to add fresh garnishes to give it a facelift. For example, lemon zest, freshly grated Parmesan, and/or chopped herbs.

Bowl of white bean soup topped with a lemon slice, fresh rosemary, and crusty bread

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If you give this white bean escarole soup a try, be sure to tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations! And be sure to follow dishingouthealth on Pinterest and Facebook for the latest recipes.

5 from 245 votes

Nourishing White Bean and Lemon Soup

Nourishing White Bean and Lemon Soup is a vegetarian, fiber-filled meal ready in just 40 minutes. A one-pot meal perfect for make-ahead lunches or easy weeknight dinner.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

  • Large stockpot or Dutch oven
  • Small blender, such as a Nutribullet, or standard blender

Ingredients  

  • 2 (15-oz.) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups lower-sodium vegetable broth divided
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. each salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 small bunch escarole, roughly chopped (sub lacinato kale or chard)
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for garnish
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Instructions 

  • Combine 1 can of cannellini beans and 1 cup of broth in a blender; blend until completely smooth. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium. Add onions and carrots; cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 to 2 more minutes. Add remaining can of cannellini beans, chickpeas, and rosemary; stir to combine, and cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in blended bean and broth mixture, remaining 3 cups broth, chopped escarole, salt, and black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 to 25 minutes, or until soup slightly thickens.
    Stir in lemon zest and juice. Gradually sprinkle in Parmesan cheese, stirring continuously (don't add it all at once or it may clump).
  • Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper, and chopped rosemary, if desired. Serve with crusty bread.

Notes

As with most soups, this one is even better the next day! I like to prepare it one day ahead, let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, and then rewarn over medium heat.
  • Freeze: Cool soup to room temperature, and then seal it a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Lay bag flat in freezer, and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw: Microwave soup in bag at 50% power for 3 to 4 minutes, or until pliable.
  • Reheat: Pour soup into a saucepan and heat over medium until soup is warmed through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 640mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 7g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!

 

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244 Comments

  1. Thia says:

    5 stars
    Fabulous soup! Easy to make and loaded with healthy ingredients. Makes you feel like your glowing from the inside out!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so thrilled you enjoyed this one, Thia! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  2. Danielle says:

    5 stars
    This was fantastic. My husband ate it, and honestly if you all knew him better, this review could end there and you’d know a miracle occurred. It felt exceptionally wrong to add lettuce to soup, but I trusted in the recipe and it’s fantastic. I was actually sad putting the leftovers in the freezer. See you again someday, new friend.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Adding this to the must try list.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Looks super YUMMY! Going to have to try this.

  5. Lillian says:

    5 stars
    What a wonderful soup ! Very quick and easy to make . The flavors are great and it is very filling. Will make again for sure !

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Lillian–I’m so thrilled you enjoyed this recipe! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review!

  6. Jen Ro says:

    How much is a serving size? 1 cup? 1 1/2 cups? When trying to count calories, it’s difficult when the serving size isn’t listed. Thanks!

    1. Heather says:

      5 stars
      This is my absolute favorite soup to make, especially when I ‘m sick. I decided to add 1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper for the first time today because I ‘m so congested. Lol! Besides that, I always prep the soup exactly as written. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Keira says:

    5 stars
    Hands down one of the best soups I’ve ever made! Thanks for sharing! Perfection!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Kiera, I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a rating and review.Cheers,

  8. Teri says:

    5 stars
    My husband just had a heart attack and I was looking for some heart healthy recipes. I came across this recipe and thought it sounded perfect! I made it and it was delicious. Thank you!!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Teri,
      Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I hope it felt nourishing for you and your husband after experiencing such a health scare. Sending all the well wishes.
      Cheers,

  9. Erin says:

    Love this recipe! I made it in the instapot with dry beans and it was delish! Thanks for this recipe!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so glad you enjoy it, Erin! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  10. Laura Moore says:

    5 stars
    So glad we gave this one a try!! Super simple and even my picky kids and in-laws loved it. Everyone agreed this should be a staple for us.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Laura, I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for taking the time to leave a rating and review!