White bean soup with kale and pancetta has similar flavors as bean with bacon soup, but you can feel good about eating this flavorful and hearty soup.
Why you’ll love it: This soup recipe is easy to make and really tastes great. Don’t have all the ingredients? Refer to the recipe card for lots of substitution ideas.
How long it takes: 30 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large pan
Servings: 6 to 8
A bowl of white bean soup is filling and flavorful, and has quickly become a new family favorite.
I’ve always loved Campbell’s bean with bacon soup. This white bean soup recipe is similar to the canned soup in some ways but quite different in others. The flavor of the smoky pancetta paired with the beans reminds me of my favorite soup but I’ve also packed it with healthy vegetables like kale, tomatoes, onions, and carrots.
P.S. If you’re looking for an even closer replica of Campbell’s Bean With Bacon soup, try my bean and bacon soup recipe, made with canned or dry beans.
About This White Bean Soup
- It’s a one pan meal. Yaay! That means less cleanup.
- Prep time is less than 30 minutes.You can have it ready to eat in less than a half hour. Double yaay! One of the big reasons I love soup is that it can simmer on the stove until we’re ready to eat. Even if someone misses dinnertime completely, soup is easy to reheat.
- It’s nutritious and delicious. Triple yaay! It has lots of plant protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. The soup is low in calories and much lower in sodium than canned soup (canned soup: 870 mg sodium; homemade soup: 170 mg sodium).
- Pancetta: Bacon. sausage, or ham work fine, too! You can adapt it to vegetarian if you want.
- Cannellini Beans: Canned beans make things really easy. If you have any type of white beans in the pantry, you can substitute them.
- Onions, Garlic, Carrots: These savory vegetables add so much great flavor. I usually end up throwing in extra carrots and onions, and maybe a bell pepper, too.
- Baby Kale: Any type of kale will work. If your kale has large leaves, chop it finely. It may take a bit longer to become tender than baby kale.
- Canned Tomatoes: I like to add a can of diced tomatoes which I always have in my pantry. Look for no-salt-added canned tomatoes.
- Chicken Broth: You’ll need a carton of chicken broth, another common pantry item. Look for low sodium broth. If you only have vegetable broth, no problem.
How To Make White Bean Soup with Kale
Brown the pancetta. Sauté the pancetta until it’s browned. Remove it to a paper-towel lined plate to drain a bit. Reserve about a tablespoon of grease in the pan
Cook the vegetables. Add chopped onions and carrots to the pan, stirring and cooking until they soften. Add a bit of garlic and stir until the mixture is fragrant, about a minute. Throw in a big bunch of kale and stir fry that until it’s wilted and softened.
Add broth, tomatoes, and beans. Add broth, canned tomatoes, and canned cannellini beans and simmer a bit until the soup is nice and hot. It doesn’t matter really how long you simmer it so if you’re not quite ready for dinner yet, no problem. Just keep it on low heat until you’re ready.
Serve. Garnish the soup with fresh parsley, if you have it. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese is really great, too! I like to serve this soup with crackers or if I’m really ambitious, corn bread or homemade rolls. Beer bread is pretty amazing, too.
Make this bean soup recipe your own
- Meat alternatives: Use bacon, sausage, or diced ham instead of pancetta.
- Vegetarian: Omit the pancetta, and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. If you like a smoky flavor, add a ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, more to taste.
- Substitute spinach for the baby kale. Since spinach is more tender than kale, add it right before you serve it.
- Add more vegetables: Celery, bell peppers, mushrooms, or whatever you like. Diced sweet potato is good, too.
- Looking for a crockpot recipe? Try slow cooker chicken kale soup with cannellini beans. It’s somewhat similar to this bean soup recipe.
Make Ahead Ideas
Head start: If you have extra time in the morning, chop the onions and carrots and refrigerate them. When dinner comes, you’ll have that portion of the recipe ready to go.
Freeze it: This bean soup with kale freezes well. Make a double batch and freeze half for an easy dinner in the future.
Storage & Reheating
Refrigerate/Freeze: Store leftover soup in a tightly covered container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days or in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw overnight in the fridge for best results before reheating.
Reheating: Heat in a saucepan on the stove or by the bowlful in the microwave. This soup makes great lunches.
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 ounces diced pancetta (¾ to 1 cup)
- 1 cup diced yellow onion (1 medium onion)
- 1 cup diced carrots (2 medium carrots)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 cups loosely packed baby kale (see note)
- 2 cans (15.5 oz.) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained (no salt added, if possible)
- 4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock or broth
- fresh parsley for garnish, optional
- Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Remove all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pan. Add onions and carrots; sauté until softened and onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, cooking and stirring for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add baby kale and continue to stir until kale is wilted.
- Add cooked pancetta, beans, tomatoes and broth. Increase heat to medium high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through. If you're not ready to eat, keep the soup warm over low heat.
- Serve garnished with chopped fresh parsley or shredded Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Bacon, diced ham, or sausage can be substituted for pancetta. For a vegetarian soup, omit meat. For a smoky flavor, add ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, or to taste.
- Any type of kale can be used. Chop large leaves finely. If the kale is tougher, allow more cooking time. Spinach is a good substitute, too. Since spinach is very tender, stir it in right before serving the soup, just until it wilts.
- I always look for no-salt-added canned tomatoes. If you compare labels, it’s rather surprising how much sodium regular canned tomatoes have.
- Nutrition information does not include parsley or Parmesan cheese.
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.