This vegan white bean soup recipe is filled with wholesome comfort: nutrient-rich spinach, fragrant Italian seasoning, a touch of heat from paprika and chili flakes, and a generous dose of fresh parsley and dill. 

Mediterranean white bean soup in a bowl with a spoon next parsley, dill and a small bowl of aleppo pepper.
Photo Credits: Kathrine Irwin

Creamy, comforting, and loaded with classic Italian flavor, you’d hardly believe this hearty white bean soup is vegan and gluten-free. A humble can of cannellini beans has worked its magic yet again! 

All due credit goes to Ribollita, the famous Tuscan stew, for the inspiration. This variation is a vegan and gluten-free twist, which–don’t worry–is just as flavorful and satisfying.

The same classic flavors of oregano, celery, carrots, and onion make for the aromatic base. Tomato paste adds a rich umami quality, replacing the parmesan rind (though feel free to throw one in if you’d like). Blending just half the soup makes it nice and creamy with a pleasantly rich texture–no need for bread! 

Finally, spinach ups the nutritional value in this cannellini beans recipe, but I’m not too picky with this one either. Feel free to throw in kale or Swiss chard if you’d like, so long as you give it time to simmer and soften into the velvety soup. 

The one thing I’ll urge you not to tweak is the herbs. A big heap of fresh dill and a whole bunch of parsley–stems and all–make this soup truly special. Fresh and cozy all at the same time! You’re going to love it.

Table of Contents
  1. White Bean Soup Ingredients and Substitutions 
  2. What Are Cannellini Beans? 
  3. Best Replacement for Cannellini Beans
  4. How to Make this White Bean Soup Recipe
    1. Get Your Ingredients Ready
    2. Simmer, Season, and Enjoy!
  5. Storage, Freezing, and Reheating this Cannellini Beans Recipe 
  6. What to Serve with Mediterranean White Bean Soup
  7. You’ll Also Like: Easy Bean Recipes
  8. Mediterranean Diet Starter Kit
  9. Mediterranean White Bean Soup with Spinach and Fresh Herbs Recipe
ingredients for mediterranean white bean soup including cannellini beans olive oil, onion, garlic, tomato paste, carrots, celery, parsley, Italian seasoning, sweet paprika, Aleppo pepper, salt, pepper, broth, spinach, dill, and white wine vinegar.

White Bean Soup Ingredients and Substitutions 

This cannellini beans recipe uses pantry staples and easy-to-find ingredients, but it’s endlessly adaptable. Use what you like and what you have on hand. 

From Your Pantry

  • Extra virgin olive oil softens the vegetables. Learn more about cooking with olive oil (aka the Mediterranean way!) in our guide, Cooking With Olive Oil: Everything You Need To Know! Find our curated selection of top-quality extra virgin olive oils at our shop.​​
  • Tomato paste adds an intense tomato flavor. Double concentrated and standard both work. 
  • Italian seasoning gives the soup an aromatic quality, with oregano being the predominant flavor. You can buy store-bought or make your own Italian Seasoning with the spices from your drawer.
  • Sweet paprika and Aleppo pepper add a very subtle heat. You can read all about Aleppo pepper in our guide: What is Aleppo Pepper and How to Use It. Try it for yourself at our shop! Or feel free to use any chili flake you have, like red pepper flakes or Urfa biber
  • Kosher salt and black pepper enhance the flavor.
  • Vegetable broth is the vegetarian base of the soup, but you can use Chicken Stock, broth, or bouillon cubes and water in its place. 
  • Cannellini beans add heft and protein, but any tender white bean works in its place (suggestions below).
  • White wine vinegar adds a good hit of acidity for balance. Red wine vinegar, Champagne vinegar, or lemon juice works too.

Fresh Produce

  • Carrots, celery, and onion make the soup's aromatic base. Yellow onion is nicely sweet and not too overpowering, but white onion, green onion, red onion, or shallots work well in its place. 
  • Garlic adds a sweet and savory depth of flavor. 
  • Spinach ups the nutritional value and a pop of color. Another hearty green, like kale or Swiss chard, works too. Just remove the tough stems and coarsely chop. Add in the final 10 to 15 minutes to give it plenty of time to soften.
  • Dill and parsley add fresh, lemony, peppery flavor. The fresh herbs are a big part of this soup's flavor, so I wouldn't skip them. But you can replace them with other tender herbs, like basil or cilantro. 
an overhead photo of two bowls of Mediterranean white bean soup with spoons next to some parsley and a small bowl of aleppo pepper. One bowl of soup also has a piece of crusty bread in it.

What Are Cannellini Beans? 

Cannellini beans are a type of kidney bean, explaining why they're also called “white kidney beans.” Yes, cannellini and white kidney beans are the same thing!

The medium-sized legume is a classic Italian workhorse: a humble ingredient that's mild and tender, so you can load it with flavor to your heart’s desire. They’ll fill you up without breaking the bank while adding a decadent creamy quality. And you can use them in all sorts of recipes, from Italian-style simmered beans to North African-style White Bean Shakshuka.

For this cannellini bean recipe, you can use either canned beans or simmer them from dried, which takes about 90 minutes. Either way, they're a good source of protein, fiber, and various nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium (see the USDA’s breakdown for full nutritional info).

Best Replacement for Cannellini Beans

If you’re looking for a cannellini beans substitute, go for something similarly creamy, tender, and mild: Butter Beans if possible, Great Northern as an alternative, or Navy Beans as a last resort. 

You can also replace the beans in this cannellini beans recipe with chickpeas. I would skip the blending step and expect it to be a bit more brothy–you can always simmer for longer for a thicker soup. 

An overhead photo of mediterranean white bean soup in a pot with a wooden spoon next to a cloth napkin, parsley, and small bowls of aleppo pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt.

How to Make this White Bean Soup Recipe

This is a very straightforward, low-stress cannellini beans recipe. Beginners welcome! Here is a step-by-step guide:

Get Your Ingredients Ready

  • Prep the parsley. You’ll use a whole bunch of parsley–simply trim off the very bottom end of where they often start to brown. Discard, then pick off the leaves and set the leaves and stems in two separate piles. Finely chop them both–keeping them separate and setting them aside in separate piles. 
  • Chop your veggies. Finely chop one onion. Mince 3 garlic cloves and set aside with the onion. Chop 2 carrots and set aside with your parsley stems. Chop 2 celery stalks and add to the carrot mixture. Drain and rinse 2 cans of cannellini beans.
  • Sauté the aromatics. In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until fragrant (adjust the heat as needed to make sure the garlic does not burn). 
  • Add the remaining flavor-makers. Stir in 2 tablespoons tomato paste, then the carrots, celery, and chopped parsley stems (do not add the leaves yet). Season with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and paprika, ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes, and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened a bit, about 5 minutes. onions, garlic, tomato paste, carrots, celery and chopped parsley stems being sauteed in a pot with a wooden spoon. This is next to a cloth napkin and small bowls of aleppo pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt.
  • Add 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth and the drained Cannellini beans. Turn the heat to high to bring to a boil and allow to boil for about 5 minutes. An overhead photo of mediterranean white bean soup in a pot with a wooden spoon right before the spinach, parsley and dill have been added. This is next to a cloth napkin and small bowls of aleppo pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt.

Simmer, Season, and Enjoy!

  • Simmer. Lower the heat and cover the pot part-way, leaving a small opening at the top. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the beans and veggies are very soft. While the soup simmers, chop enough dill to yield ¼ cup (discard the stems).
  • Partially blend for a creamier soup (optional). Use an immersion blender to blend about half the soup but do not fully puree the entire soup–some texture is essential. This step is optional and is meant to only give the soup some body.  An overhead photo of mediterranean white bean soup in a pot with a wooden spoon right before the spinach, parsley and dill have been added. This is next to a cloth napkin and small bowls of aleppo pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt.
  • Finish. Stir in 2 heaping cups of spinach and cover so it wilts, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved parsley leaves, dill, and 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar. An overhead photo of mediterranean white bean soup in a pot with a wooden spoon after the spinach, parsley and dill have been added but not mixed in. This is next to a cloth napkin and small bowls of aleppo pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt.
  • Serve. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and finish each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper. Serve. a close up of Mediterranean white bean soup in a bowl with a spoon next to some parsley and a small bowl of aleppo pepper.

Storage, Freezing, and Reheating this Cannellini Beans Recipe 

This is a great freezer soup recipe–you may want to double and freeze for a rainy day if you have a large enough pot. To store, allow the soup to cool completely, then tightly seal in a storage container. 

  • In your fridge:  Store for up to 5 days. Reheat gently, stirring over medium-low heat.
  • In your freezer: Leave some room at the top to allow the soup to expand and store for up to 3 months. Thaw in your fridge overnight, then reheat gently over medium-low heat. 
an overhead photo of Mediterranean white bean soup in a bowl with a spoon next to a piece of crusty bread, a bowl of salt, parsley, dill and a small bowl of aleppo pepper.

What to Serve with Mediterranean White Bean Soup

The cannellini beans make this simple soup very filling–you don’t need to go too crazy with sides here. But I almost never say no to crusty toasted bread drizzled with good olive oil. I also like a crunchy, slightly bitter winter chicory salad to start, like Radicchio Salad or Endive Salad.

You’ll Also Like: Easy Bean Recipes

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Mediterranean White Bean Soup with Spinach and Fresh Herbs

Suzy Karadsheh
a close up of Mediterranean white bean soup in a bowl with a spoon next to some parsley and a small bowl of aleppo pepper.
This is a simple, easy to adapt weeknight soup recipe loaded with bold Mediterranean flavor. Feel free to swap with what you have on hand (see some suggestions in the notes). But whatever you do, don't skip the fresh herbs! They give this creamy vegan soup an irresistible fresh-meets-cozy quality. It's plenty filling on its own, but I love some good crusty bread for dipping.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 35 minutes
Total – 45 minutes
Cuisine:
Italian
Serves – 4
Course:
Soup

Ingredients
  

  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 2 cans Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 heaping cups spinach
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Instructions
 

  • Prep the parsley. Trim off the very bottom end of the parsley’s stems where they're often starting to brown. Discard, then pick off the leaves and set the leaves and stems in two separate piles. Finely chop them both–keeping them separate and setting aside in separate piles.
  • Sauté the aromatics. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring regularly, for about 3 to 5 minutes or until fragrant (adjust the heat as needed to make sure the garlic does not burn).
  • Add the remaining flavor-makers. Stir in the tomato paste, carrots, celery, and chopped parsley stems (do not add the leaves yet). Season with the Italian seasoning, paprika, Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened a bit, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the vegetable broth and the beans. Turn the heat to high to bring to a boil and allow to boil for about 5 minutes.
  • Simmer. Lower the heat and cover the pot part-way, leaving a small opening at the top. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the beans and veggies are very soft.
  • Partially blend for a creamier soup (optional). Use an immersion blender to blend about half the soup but do not fully puree the entire soup–some texture is essential. This step is optional and is meant to only give the soup some body.
  • Finish. Stir in the spinach and cover so it wilts (about 1 to 2 minutes). Stir in the reserved parsley leaves, dill, and white wine vinegar.
  • Serve. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and finish each bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper. Serve.

Video

Notes

  • Swaps and Substitutions: 
    • For the beans: Butter Beans if possible, Great Northern as an alternative, or Navy Beans as a last resort. You can also replace the beans with chickpeas. I would skip the blending step and expect it to be a bit brothier–you can always simmer a bit longer for a thicker soup.
    • For the spinach: Use kale or Swiss chard. Discard the tough spines, then chop and simmer in the final 15 minutes or so until the greens are nice and tender. 
  • To store, allow the soup to cool completely before transferring to a sealable container. Store, covered in your fridge for up to 5 days, or in your freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw frozen soup overnight in the fridge, then reheat over gentle temperature. 
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 148.4kcalCarbohydrates: 11.9gProtein: 2.4gFat: 10.8gSaturated Fat: 1.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7.7gSodium: 95.1mgPotassium: 286.8mgFiber: 3.3gSugar: 4.7gVitamin A: 5850.6IUVitamin C: 9.4mgCalcium: 42mgIron: 1.1mg
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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. 5 stars
    This soup has become my go to soup.
    I love, love, love using up the entire bunch of fresh Parsley. Chopping the stalks and leaves up separately certainly take time however so worth the flavour burst.
    Thank you

  2. 5 stars
    So full of flavor and yummy!
    I added some fresh zucchini I had to use up, and after I used the immersion blender I added another can of Cannelinni beans. I think I blended it too much. Definitely will be making this one again.