Smoky bacon and creamy white beans are combined in this familiar homestyle bean and bacon soup. So flavorful and easy to make.

Bean soup, garnished with bacon, with a wooden handled spoon. Ritz crackers also visible.

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. 

Well, let me tell you, 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? 

And bean with bacon soup is easy to make. It freezes well, too, so you can enjoy homemade soup whenever you want it.

If you love bean soup, you might want to try these recipes: 15 Bean SoupWhite Bean Soup with Kale and PancettaGround Turkey Soup with Beans & Spinach which is ready in just 20 minutes, or Frijoles Borrachos (Drunken Beans)

About this soup

The recipe card will show you two different methods for making this soup: quick with canned beans or slower with dry 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.

If you use dry beans, soak them overnight and simmer the soup an hour and fifteen minutes. If you use canned beans, simply rinse and drain them, add them to the soup and it will be ready in about 40 minutes, start to finish. 

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.

Bean soup on a tray with crackers and fresh thyme.

FAQs

How do you thicken bean soup?

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.

Will soup thicken as it simmers?

Yes! If you simmer soup without a lid, it will thicken as it cooks.

Bean soup topped with bacon in a white bowl with handles.

What you 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, 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.
  • 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.
Close up view of bean and bacon soup with ritz crackers on a tray.

How to make this recipe 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.

Dry Bean Information you’ll want to know!

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.

Soup in a white bowl on a wooden tray with crackers and fresh thyme.

Make-Ahead Ideas

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.

Make a big batch of soup and freeze it in individual sized containers for a handy lunch.  

Storage Tips

Bean with bacon soup will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for up to six months.

Reheating Suggestions

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 1-2 minutes or until heated through.

Tip: If the soup seems too thick, add a bit of water.

Overhead view of orange colored bean soup topped with crumbled bacon.

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:

Bean soup topped with bacon in a small white bowl.

Bean and Bacon Soup (canned or dry beans!)

Yield: 2 quarts
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Smoky bacon and creamy white beans are combined in this familiar homestyle bean and bacon soup. So flavorful and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Add vegetables to pan and cook until onions are translucent and carrots and celery are beginning to soften, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another minute or until fragrant.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Notes

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • For dried beans, soak overnight as directed on package, and increase cook time to 60-75 minutes or until beans are tender.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 1058mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 18g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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