This rich and creamy Vegan White Bean Soup is more of a stew than a soup, but it’s warm, brothy and delicious nonetheless. White beans are the perfect base for all the hearty veggies - zucchini, carrots, celery, kale, they all combine to give this nourishing soup a meaty texture and chew, and oh so full of flavour!
Recipe for vegan white bean soup
This recipe was inspired by a Tuscan style soup called Ribollita which traditionally uses Tuscan cabbage (Cavolo Nero), cannellini beans, and stale bread.
Here, I use 2 types of white beans - cannellini and butter beans.
Are butter beans and cannellini beans the same?
Cannellini beans are small and have sort of a kidney shape, that’s why they’re also called white kidney beans. They are meatier than the other varieties of white beans, which is what really makes this soup so hearty. Plus, I love their nutty, earthy flavour which adds a strong and rich taste to the soup.
Butter beans are also called lima beans. Yup, they’re one and the same thing! Lima beans are the fresh beans in their immature stage which is why they have a green colour. What we know as butter beans are the mature beans which are dried and white or beige in colour.
Many don’t really care for lima beans -- I admit I don’t! They can have a sort of starchy flavour that tastes sort of uncooked, and that’s not really to my liking. But I love the rich, creamy and buttery texture of butter beans in many recipes, including this one!
What is a good substitute for white beans?
Butter beans and cannellini beans are often used interchangeably in recipes. Other great types of white beans you can use are:
- Great Northern Beans which have a mild, nutty flavour and firm flesh and also work great in soups and stews.
- Borlotti beans have a sweet flavour with a creamy, smooth texture and can be a great substitute too.
- Navy beans have a mild flavour and they get creamy when cooked, so they’re perfect for thickening soups.
This is my version of vegan white bean soup. It’s rich, velvety consistency is from the broken down bread and, of course, the creamy white beans and the vegetables that have been left to cook until they are all soft. I garnish with fresh basil leaves, just torn up loosely and stirred through the soup, plus flavour-popping freshly cracked pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and some shaved vegan parmesan. Serve this as your main course with Vegan Zucchini Bread or some warm dinner rolls on the side.
Vegan White Bean Soup With Kale
- 1 onion peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 3 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped finely
- 3 stalks of celery chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 400 g tin of Italian diced tomatoes
- approximately 300 to 400g of kale or cavolo nero stems removed and chopped
- 400 g tin of cannellini beans drained
- 400 g tin of butter beans drained
- ½ cup of fresh basil chopped
- ½ cup of fresh parsley chopped
- 2 litres of vegetable stock
- 4 slices of stale bread torn into bite sized pieces
- Heat a large soup pot over a medium low heat and add the olive oil, onion, garlic, celery, salt, carrots and zucchini and cook slowly for 15 to 20 minutes so that the vegetables sweat out their flavours and don't brown.
- Stir the tinned tomatoes into the vegetables and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the cavolo nero, butter beans and cannellini beans, basil and parsley and stir through the mixture (I like to squash some of the beans into the mix at this point to release their flavour and help thicken the soup) and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring the soup to the boil before lowering to a simmer for 25 to 30 minutes
- Add the bread and cooking until the bread has broken down, about 10 minutes.