Smoky bacon and creamy white beans are combined in this familiar homestyle bean and bacon soup. So flavorful and easy to make.
Why you’ll love it: It’s such a satisfying and delicious soup that reheats well.
How long it takes: 50 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: soup pan, stove, sharp knife, immersion blender
If you’re a fan of the red and white can of Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup, you’re gonna love this soup. It tastes similar but so much better!
My mom used to heat up the canned version often for a quick lunch or dinner. It truly was a family favorite. She got the extra large sized can because we ate a lot. She’d say that there’s no reason to pick up expensive fast food when you had a can of bean with bacon soup in the pantry. (My sister and I probably would have preferred McDonald’s once in awhile but we really did love that soup. )
If you love bean soup, you might want to try these recipes: 15 Bean Soup, White Bean Soup with Kale and Pancetta, Ground Turkey Soup with Beans & Spinach which is ready in just 20 minutes, or Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken Beans). Another really popular “bean” soup is this Creamy Queso Chili. I guess chili isn’t really bean soup but the queso chili is loaded with beans and lots of cheesy goodness. It’s super good!
About this Bean soup
Homemade soup is better tasting than canned soup. Homemade bean and bacon soup is very much like the canned but yes, it’s so much better. (Oh, did I say that already?) More bacon flavor, more beans, lots of good veggies, less watery, and just much better tasting. No surprise there, right?
Bean with bacon soup is easy to make. It freezes well, too, so you can enjoy homemade soup whenever you want it.
Make it with canned beans or with dried beans. The recipe card will show you two different methods for making this soup: quick with canned beans or slower with dried beans. Dry beans are more economical and have a slightly better texture but canned beans are quicker. It’s up to you which one you prefer. The end result is pretty much the same.
I’ll run through the recipe here to get you started, with lots of extra tips.
As always, you’ll find the printable recipe card at the end of the post with complete instructions and nutrition information.
Ingredients you’ll need
- Bacon: We love a thick, center-cut bacon for the most amount of meat with the least amount of fat. Ham will also work, and you won’t need to brown it first.
- Great Northern Beans: Cooking time will increase if you use dry beans (1 hour and 15 minutes), and you’ll have to plan ahead and soak them overnight. We love the texture and flavor that comes with dried beans, but canned beans also make a great soup and turn this recipe into a perfect weeknight meal, ready in 40 minutes.
- Vegetables: Onion, celery, carrots, and some tomato paste give this soup so much flavor and provide added nutritional value.
- Flavor: Flavor is added to this soup with fresh garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. It tastes so similar to the store-bought version! (But better!)
- Chicken Broth: We always recommend using a salt-free or low-salt chicken broth so that you can control the salt in your final recipe. Bonus points for making homemade chicken broth. You could also use a bone broth.
How To Make This Soup
Begin this easy soup by browning thick cut bacon slices until crisp. Remove the bacon and most of the grease and in the same pan sauté carrots, onions, and celery until they soften a bit. Add garlic and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste, and cook, stirring a minute more.
Add broth, beans, bay leaves, and thyme and simmer the soup. Put half of the bacon back in, too. Reserve some bacon for garnishing the soup, or just put it all in, totally up to you.
When the beans are tender and the soup is done, remove about half of it and puree it with a stick blender. Stir the pureed soup back into the pan. This step is optional but it does add a nice creamy texture to the soup. Truthfully, you’ll love it either way! If you don’t want to blend the soup, just mash some of it against the side of the pan with a large spoon. Mission accomplished.
Serve bean and bacon soup in a soup bowl or mug, steaming hot, with crackers or bread. It’s pure comfort food, especially on a cold day.
Pureeing half of the beans will make the bean soup thick and creamy. You could also make a cornstarch slurry of cornstarch and broth or water and add a little at a time until the thickness is how you want it.
Yes! If you simmer soup without a lid, it will thicken as it cooks.
Make It Your Own
- Make it in your slow cooker with dry great Northern beans. Rinse the beans well, and brown the bacon, then add everything to your crockpot. Cook on low 8 to 9 hours, or on high four to five hours, or until beans are tender.
- Use a different type of bean. Red beans, white beans, pinto beans, or black beans all work well.
- Replace the bacon with diced ham. You won’t need to brown it.
- Vegetarian: Omit the bacon and sauté the veggies in olive oil instead. Add a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika, if desired.
- More canned soup classics: Try my beef barley soup , loaded with tender chunks of beef, or broccoli cheese soup (make it in your Instant Pot!).
About Dried Kidney Beans
Dried kidney beans (and cannellini beans are in the same family) have a toxin called lectin that is normally removed by boiling. Sometimes slow cooking may not achieve the high temperature needed to remove the toxins. According to the USDA, it is recommended that dry kidney beans be boiled at least 30 minutes. Canned beans are fine.
Head start: To get a start on the soup the night before, soak the beans, and cut up the veggies, storing them in a plastic bag or bowl in the fridge.
Food prep: Make a big batch of soup and freeze it in individual sized containers for a handy lunch.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Refrigerate/Freeze: Bean with bacon soup will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for up to six months.
Reheat: If the soup is frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge for best results. Reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.
If the soup seems too thick, add a bit of water.
Interested in a weekly meal plan (it’s free!) that includes this easy soup recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #35. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!
We’ll be adding a new meal plan weekly. If you’re interested, browse all of our meal plans.
More soup recipes
There’s nothing quite like a bowl of delicious and nutritious soup for dinner or lunch. I have tons of soup recipes for you to try. Here’s just a sampling:
- Instant Pot Tomato Soup — creamy & easy to make!
- Kabocha Squash Soup
- Chile Relleno Soup with Chicken
- Lentil Soup Recipe with Pasta
- Easy Split Pea Soup Recipe
- Homemade Vegetable Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken and Dumplings
- Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Thai Chicken Soup with Rice Noodles by Once Upon a Chef
- 8 ounces thick cut bacon, diced
- 1 cup diced yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
- 3/4 cup diced celery (about 2 ribs of celery)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups chicken broth, unsalted
- 3 cups water
- 3 (15 oz) cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 lb. dry beans, see note)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- In a large heavy bottomed pan, cook the bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat.
- Add vegetables to pan and cook until onions are translucent and carrots and celery are beginning to soften, 4-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another minute or until fragrant.
- Add chicken broth, water, beans, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper, and half of bacon. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- Remove about half of the soup, and puree the remaining soup using either a hand-held immersion blender or a traditional blender. Stir blended and unblended soup together and add remaining bacon, reserving some to garnish, if desired.
- Slow Cooker Directions: Use dry great Northern beans. Rinse the beans well, and brown the bacon, then add everything to your crockpot. Cook on low 8 to 9 hours, or on high four to five hours, or until beans are tender.
- Try a different type of bean. Red beans, white beans, pinto beans, or black beans all work well.
- Replace the bacon with diced ham. You won’t need to brown it.
- Vegetarian? Omit the bacon and sauté the veggies in olive oil instead. Add a teaspoon or two of smoked paprika, if desired.
- For dried beans, soak overnight as directed on package, and increase cook time to 60-75 minutes or until beans are tender.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.