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! Sub other greens for kale if you’d like.
This recipe was originally published in February 2019. It has been updated with improvements to the recipe and text as of June 2020. (When kale isn’t in season – see the substitutions section!)
This is an easy vegan kale white bean soup, with household staples like lemon, carrots, celery, 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 cupboard.
Since celery, carrots, onions, and garlic last forever, kale or other greens can be frozen, and a can of beans is easy to keep, this is a good bare-cupboards meal. Nearing the end of winter where I live, all of these ingredients are in season or over wintering. It’s just as good through spring and autumn, too.
Despite only using winter 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.
- Olive oil
- Red onion
- Vegetable stock
- Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper
- Herbes de Provence (see below)
- Little while beans
- Kale – or other greens, see substitutions
- A whole lemon
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.
Like most of my soup recipes, the onions are cooked in a bit of oil first, followed by carrots and in this case, celery. I find that sautéing the vegetables rather than the more traditional (German, at least) method of adding them after the stock adds a better flavour. Garlic goes in next, followed by the stock and herbs/spices.
Beans are added once the soup reaches a rolling boil. If you forget to add the beans here, don’t worry – they’re already cooked and can be added later if needed. Adding them a bit earlier on and cooking further with the other ingredients additionally improves the taste here. That being said, if you cooked your beans in a brine, then it doesn’t matter.
Simmer until the carrots are tender, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size, and that’s it. This takes half an hour at most, great for a weeknight dinner. Serve it with some sourdough spelt bread or coconut oil biscuits, or as is.
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. Use cooked or canned white beans; just be sure to rinse them well.
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.
More Bean Soup Recipes
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- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 3 stalks celery, 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
- 150 grams (2 cups) cooked or canned little white beans
- 70 grams (3 cups) fresh kale, chopped (1 cup frozen)
- Zest and 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 celery, 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, increase the heat to high, and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to simmer 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 or freezer.
* 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