Ready for the BEST white bean and kale soup you'll ever try?  With the added chicken, this is one comforting and satisfying pot to feed a hungry crowd! And you'll love the flavors from warm spices, a hint of Parmesan, and a splash of bright lemon juice! Stovetop and crockpot instructions included.

White Bean and Kale Soup served in bowl. A small bowl of red pepper flakes to the side

Because we eat the Mediterranean way around here, beans are a staple in my kitchen (whether canned or dry.) Lucky for us, they are affordable; easy to use; and super satisfying.

Beans, like other legumes, are also a great source of plant-based protein, fiber, and iron. That's why I use them regularly in things like bean and broccoli pasta; bean soup with tomato pesto; or Greek Fasolada (all three are worth a try at some point, but first, today's white bean chicken soup!)

In today's recipe, two humble cans of white beans are transformed into a delicious one-pot dinner: white bean and kale soup with chicken. This is a satisfying weeknight dinner, and you'll love all the flavors.

ingredients for white bean soup

Ingredients: What you need for white bean soup

A few simple, easy-to-find ingredients come together in this one-pot white bean soup:

  • White Beans. What kind to use? Either great northern or cannellini beans will work here, but I find cannellini beans to have more of a nutty taste and a creamier, more tender texture. For a shortcut, I used canned beans here, but if you have the time and want to start with dry beans, you certainly can (I have the instructions for how to soak and cook dry beans below.)
  • Kale (or another leafy green). White beans and kale are a great match! You'll need about 8 ounces of kale in this recipe, and I like to trim the thick stems, then chop the kale into thin strips. If you don't love kale, I think a handful of baby spinach will work (just throw them in toward the end of the cooking time, baby spinach don't need a ton of time to cook).
  • Boneless Chicken. You'll need just around one pound of boneless, skinless chicken. You can use either thighs or breast meat. Because chicken breasts alone can be bland and won't add any richness or flavor to this soup, I like to use a bit of thighs as well. Cut the chicken up into small bite size pieces before cooking. And the first step I take with this bean chicken soup is to actually brown the chicken in a little extra virgin olive oil; a great way to develop flavor right off the bat.
  • Spices and aromatics to flavor your white bean soup. This is no plain bean soup; there is a ton of flavor going on here thanks to onions, garlic, spices--coriander, cumin, rosemary, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. But the secret ingredient that brings all the umami and richness to this soup is a small Parmesan cheese rind. Since I last used a small cheese rind in this minestrone soup, I've been keeping those last bits of Parmesan cheese for such soupy occasions. So good!
  • Citrus and olive oil to finish. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice to round out the flavor, adding just enough zing to wake everything up. And, once the soup is transferred to serving bowls, I like to add a drizzle of this Early Harvest extra virgin olive oil for that added bit of velvety, rich finish.

Can I use dry beans instead of canned beans?

Yes! If you have some dry white beans that you'd like to use here instead, by all means! One 15-ounce can of beans = ¾ cup of dry beans, which means you will need 1 ½ cups of dry white beans to replace the canned beans in this recipe. To use them in this recipe, you will need to cook the dry beans first, which you can do in advance (the beans can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 nights before using in this recipe).

How to cook dry beans?

Whether you're cooking white beans or another kind of dry beans, the process is pretty straight forward. It takes two simple steps:

  • Soak the dry beans overnight
    Start with soaking 1 cup of dry white beans in a large bowl filled with water and leave it overnight. The dry beans will expand in size as they soak. Drain before cooking.
  • Cook the dry beans
    To cook, place the beans in a large pot and cover with water by about 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that bubbles up to the top. Turn the heat down and let the beans simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours or until the beans are tender.
    Once the beans are cooked, you can use them in place of canned beans in this recipe.
White bean soup served in bowl with a drizzle of olive oil on top

How to make white bean and kale soup on the stovetop

I almost always make this soup on the stovetop because it literally takes 30 minutes or less. Here is how (print-friendly recipe below):

  • Brown the chicken
    In a large Dutch oven heat about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Cook the chicken in the EVOO, tossing regularly until the chicken is browned (about 7 minutes). Season with Kosher salt and a dash of black pepper. Set the chicken aside for now so you can use the pot.

    Chicken browned in the pot with olive oil
  • Get the aromatics going
    This step creates the flavor base for this soup. In the same pot, cook the onions for a bit until softened, then add the garlic, red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin and rosemary. Get this party cooking, while you stir constantly for like 30 seconds.
  • Add in the chicken, beans, kale and liquid and cook
    Put back the chicken you browned and add the white beans (I like to smash some of the beans to help thicken the soup), chicken broth, and kale. Add a good 2-inch piece of Parmesan cheese rind (so much flavor!). Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and cover only partway through. Let the soup simmer for about 25 minutes or so.

    White bean and Kale Soup with chicken in the pot
  • Finish and serve!
    Remove the cheese rind before serving (although a good bit of it will have dissolved in the soup). Test and adjust seasoning. Add the lemon juice (this will transform the soup and give it some extra brightness). Transfer to serving bowls and finish with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

Slow cooker instructions

To make this chicken and white bean soup in the slow cooker, here is what you do:

  1. Brown the chicken pieces in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer the chicken to your crockpot or slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT the kale). Give things a quick stir. Cover the slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. About 45 minutes before you're ready to unplug the crockpot, stir in the kale and cook till tender.

What to serve along

The whole idea of a one-pot dinner is that one doesn't have to add much else to it. For me, a good piece of crusty bread next to this white bean soup seals the deal. But it's never a bad idea to start with a little salad like this simple Mediterranean salad or Greek salad.

Tools you may need for this recipe

  • For the stovetop method, I used a large oval Dutch oven
  • For the slow cooker method, I like a large Crockpot
  • Find spices and excellent olive oils at our online shop

You may also like

Ribollita soup

Mediterranean-Style Turmeric Lemon Chicken Soup

Chicken Stew

Fasolada: Greek white bean soup

Browse our Italian recipes. Top 50+ Mediterranean Diet Recipes. All Mediterranean Recipes

4.99 from 50 votes

BEST White Bean and Kale Soup with Chicken

Suzy Karadsheh
White Bean and Kale Soup served in bowl
With the added chicken, this is white bean and kale soup is one comforting and satisfying pot to feed a hungry crowd! And you'll love the flavors from onions, garlic, warm spices, and a hint of Parmesan. A splash of lemon juice adds just enough zing and rounds out the flavor beautifully!
Prep – 10 mins
Cook – 35 mins
Cuisine:
Italian
Serves – 6 people
Course:
Soup

Ingredients
  

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless chicken cut into small bites
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes more for later
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dry rosemary
  • 2 15- oz cans white beans drained and rinsed, smash contents of 1 can for texture
  • 8 cups low-sodium broth chicken or vegetable broth will work here
  • 8 oz kale leaves cut into ½ inch strips (no thick stems)
  • 2 inch piece Parmesan cheese rind
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Add the chicken. Cook, tossing regularly until browned (about 5 to 7 minutes). Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Transfer the chicken to a side plate for now.
  • In the same pot, add onions and saute for about 4 minutes over medium heat, tossing regularly until softened (if needed, add a little more extra virgin olive oil.) Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, and rosemary. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring regularly, for 30 seconds to 1 minute over medium heat (watch to make sure the garlic does not burn.)
  • Return the chicken to the pot, add the white beans (both the whole and smashed beans), broth, kale, and cheese rind.
  • Raise the heat and bring to a boil for 5 minutes (make sure to skim any foam that bubbles up on top.)  Turn the heat to low. Partially cover the pot, leaving a small opening for the soup to breath. Cook for 25  minutes or until everything is cooked through and the kale softens to your liking.
  • Remove the cheese rind. Test and adjust seasonings, adding more of any of the spices used to your liking.
  • Finally, stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to serving bowls and add a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. Serve with your favorite crusty bread.

Notes

  • Slow Cooker Instructions: follow instructions for browning the chicken (step 1), then transfer to your crockpot. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the kale, and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Be sure to stir the kale in about 45 minutes or so before soup is done cooking.
  • Tip for using dry beans instead of canned beans in this recipe: If you have some dry white beans that you'd like to use instead, you will need just over 1 cup of dry beans. Start with soaking them in plenty of water overnight. Drain and rinse well with cold water. To cook the beans before using in this recipe, place them in a large pot and cover with water by about 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam that bubbles up to the top. Turn heat down and let simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours or until beans are soft. Use cooked beans in this recipe by following instructions above. (If you're making your white bean soup in the crockpot, it's still a good idea to soak the dry beans overnight, but you can through them in the crockpot from there with the rest of the ingredient and let cook until the beans are fully tender.)
  • Visit Our Online Shop to browse our collection of extra virgin olive oils and spices used in this recipe including coriander, cumin, and rosemary.

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcalCarbohydrates: 25.1gProtein: 28gSaturated Fat: 1.1gCholesterol: 48.4mgSodium: 409.5mgPotassium: 1527.4mgFiber: 8gVitamin A: 3852IUVitamin C: 52.5mgCalcium: 205.6mgIron: 6.2mg
Tried this recipe?

*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2019 and has been recently updated with new information for readers' benefit

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Best vegetable to sub for the Kale? No one in my house likes the texture of cooked kale. Maybe broccoli? Any other ideas? LOVE all your recipes! You rock!

      1. Good idea! I have a mix of spinach, chard, and arugula in my fridge right now. I think I will use that and add at the end.

  2. 5 stars
    Wow! Another winner! I didn't change a thing -- it was perfect as-is. Thank you for your easy, quick, healthy and most of all DELICIOUS recipes. They never fail to please my hungry family.

  3. 5 stars
    Scrumptious! I love how healthy this recipe is, and packed with flavors. I didn't have a cheese rind so swapped it for 1/4C grated pecorino romano. Oh, the lemon adds great zing - I might have used more than called for because - lemon!
    Thanks Suzy!

    1. HI Suzy, I don't like any kind of beans except green beans. When I checked your white bean with kale soup recipe, it was so tempting and inviting, I decided to make it. I added some mushrooms and left out the rosemary ( I don't like rosemary) added chopped green mint instead. We use a lot of dried or fresh mint in Armenian Cuisine, which is almost the same as middle eastern cuisine. ( I am sure you know). I can say OMG ! the soup turned out SOOOOOO GOOOD, thank you for sharing the recipe. I loved it and I will make it again and again. Mediterranean food is the best and the most healthy.
      p.s. I use a lot of your recipes, because its very similar to our taste. 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Once again, you have delivered a foundational recipe to my kitchen. I commented before about your Mediterranean Baked Cod and Chick pea salad. These recipes have kept the joy of cooking and connection to my Italian heritage intact during this difficult year. Your spices remind me of the rich tapestry of travel and dining in the homes of my friends throughout the world. I can’t thank you enough!
    I just finished making my weekly pot of this white bean soup with vegetable stock and no chicken (we are primarily pescatarian but, as an Italian, I will break for prosciutto, harissa chicken thighs or a Basque Txuleton beef steak!- not a zealot, just trying to stay healthy). This soup is now in our refrigerator most every day!
    I want to let you know how much I appreciate you. Mille Gracie!
    Frank Pietromonaco

  5. 5 stars
    This truly is the best! I made it in the slow cooker yesterday and my husband and I both swooned over it. So good, and so healthy--minimal points for WW.

    Your site is my go-to for recipes! Thank you so much.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this today and it was delicious.
    Thank you for the wonderful recipes, clear and easy to follow, and using ingredients that are readily available. Good for an amateur (but enthusiastic) cook like me. I am having fun and my wife loves it!

  7. 5 stars
    I grew kale through the winter and cut several leaves just before we had a big snowstorm since I didn't know if it would survive (it did, beautifully!). Wanted to make sure we used it and came across this recipe and made it for lunch today. My husband is currently on his third helping so it's obviously a hit! The only thing I did differently was use fresh rosemary (and increased the amount) instead of dried because that's what I had. I'll definitely make this often. Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    So tasty. I make soup year round instead of casseroles. I'm a widow and make the full recipe, then freeze the rest in individual servings. The flavors just sing in this recipe and don't forget the fresh lemon just before serving.

  9. This was a delicious soup - I had a mirepoix in the refrigerator I needed to use up, so I sautéed that and put it in a separate bowl. I then sautéed the onion, etc and when that was soft I added the pre-suateed mirepoix - In the end, I probably doubled the spice mix and doubled the lemon. Overall, this was a so good. If you are a new to this site - I have been following this blog since about October or November of 2019 - I have lost about 20 pounds just from cooking foods from this site. I wanted to lose weight but struggle with "planned" diet meals. I have so many favorites from this blog. I wish she would write a cookbook.

  10. 5 stars
    Second recipe of yours I have made tastes delicious and is also healthy I plan on trying more of your recipes

      1. Hi, Korry! Unfortunately, I don't have the exact serving size by cups for this one. The recipe can be divided by 6 to get the "serving size".