This easy vegan white bean soup with lemon is light, healthy, and still cozy, just right for a quick weeknight dinner. About 30 minutes from start to finish and a meal in a bowl!
This is an easy vegan kale white bean soup, with household staples like lemon, carrots, leek, and onion. It’s a lighter variation of a traditional eintopf – literally just ‘one pot’ – a German soup or stew that uses what’s in the refrigerator or pantry.
Since leeks, carrots, onions, and garlic last forever, kale or other greens can be frozen, and dried or canned beans are easy to keep, this is a good bare-cupboards meal. My garden kale is still holding on but just about done, so this is a good way to clear out your plants.
I’m using over-wintered kale from my garden, and early carrots from a farm nearby. The soup is just as good through spring, autumn, and winter.
Despite only using early season produce, plenty of lemon zest and juice brighten the soup up, and its low-ish carb nature keeps things light. You probably have just about everything you need to make this soup already in the house, and if not, it’s all inexpensive and easy to find.
Scroll to the bottom of the post or click “skip to recipe” above to see the recipe card with full ingredient measurements and instructions.
Herbes de Provence
The only thing you may not typically have in your house for this recipe is herbes de Provence, a dried herb mix usually featuring herbs like marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and other herbs in various combinations.
Sometimes it includes lavender and/or fennel, so take a peek at the ingredients if you’re not a fan of those stronger items. I don’t mind fennel but lavender not so much.
Herbes de Provence is a great addition to your spice cupboard if you don’t already have it, and I recommend picking some up, or making it yourself! Add it to roasted potatoes or veggies, different soups and stews (it’s great in my potato lentil stew), or even to things like scrambled eggs. More traditionally you’ll see it with meat and fish but it’s delicious in plenty of different dishes.
Tips and Notes
Adding the beans with the broth improves the overall flavour of the soup, as they pick up some of the good stuff in there while cooking. If using canned beans, I recommend rinsing, then soaking for a little while in cold water before rinsing again.
Sautéing the vegetables rather than the more traditional (German, at least) method of adding them after the broth adds a better flavour. In a simple soup like this one, anything that can boost it a bit is a good thing to do.
This is a rare recipe on OE that really needs vegetable broth and water doesn’t make a good substitution. Try making it yourself if you have the time, or use a store bought one that you like the taste of, as it will shine through.
If you’re using frozen greens, add them when the soup is finished cooking, but let them thaw for about five minutes with the lid on the pot. Using this method instead of cooking keeps the greens bright, tasty, and nutritious.
Don’t have fresh lemon? A little preserved lemon – a quarter, maybe a half – will do well as a substitution. Reduce the salt slightly to account for this in the soup. The citrus is key in this recipe and can’t be left out. If you don’t have any lemon at all around, a teaspoon of apple cider or white wine vinegar will work.
Any hardy greens (spinach, chard, rucola, even baby beet greens) can take the place of kale, so use what you have. Frozen greens work as well as fresh. I used Lacinato kale but you can use any type.
Celery is a good substitution for leek.
If you don’t have herbes de Provence, you can make up your own mix of dried or fresh herbs like thyme and rosemary. I grow a number of hardy herbs in my garden and usually reach for a mix of those two plus marjoram (oregano) and sometimes savoury and a leaf or two of sage (fried before adding). Use a combination you like.
For those who are particularly sensitive to any heat, omit the hot pepper altogether and add pepper to your taste.
More Bean Soup Recipes
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 medium leek, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 litres (6 cups) vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 500 grams (~3 cups) cooked or canned little white beans
- 300 grams (10 oz.) fresh kale, chopped (1 cup frozen)
- Zest of a lemon
- Juice of a lemon
- In a large pot, heat the oil over low-medium. Once hot, add the onion and sauté for a minute or two, until soft and fragrant.
- Add the carrots and leek, and cook for another couple of minutes or until slightly softened. Stir in the garlic and cook briefly.
- Pour the vegetable broth over the vegetables and stir in the salt, herbs, pepper, and red pepper.
- Add the beans and cover. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a rolling boil.
- Reduce the heat to simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the kale and lemon. Taste and season as necessary, and serve hot.
- Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze well for up to a month.
* If you want to use cayenne pepper, cook it along with the garlic before adding the broth.
** If you're using frozen greens, add them when the soup is finished cooking, but let them thaw for about five minutes with the lid on the pot. Using this method instead of cooking keeps the greens bright, tasty, and nutritious.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 227Total Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 941mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 10gSugar: 8gProtein: 12g
This recipe was originally published in February 2019. It has been updated most recently with new photos and improvements to the recipe and text as of May 2021.