Savor the richness of creamy white bean soup with escarole and gremolata. A delightful blend of flavors in a comforting, nutritious bowl.
This hearty and creamy white bean soup with escarole and gremolata is one of my favorite easy lunch or dinner recipes and absolutely tasty. There is nothing better than a big bowl of flavorful hearty soup on a cold day. Filled with fiber this soup provides plant-based proteins, vitamins, potassium, magnesium and zinc. It will fill you up and give you energy.
Above all, white beans soup is economical and easy to make with basic ingredients you already have on your kitchen and pantry like beans, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, spices.
Most importantly Gremolata and lemon juice added to your bowl of soup will add so much flavor and a zesty finish.
Why this recipe works
This creamy white bean soup achieves its rich and velvety texture with a clever combination of white beans and potatoes. You won't need dairy, coconut milk, or cashews for this recipe. When you partially blend the cannellini beans and potatoes, they magically transform into a smooth, thick base, creating a luscious soup. And of course, don't forget the crusty bread for the perfect dip!
The gourmet flavors in this soup are achieved through a zesty gremolata, made with parsley, lemon zest, and garlic, is stirred into each bowl just before serving, adding a burst of citrusy freshness to each bite. Finally, a drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil at the end adds a luxurious mouthfeel and depth to this veggie-packed soup.
Surprisingly, this soup is easy to prepare. You likely have most of the ingredients in your kitchen and pantry already. It's a one-pot wonder, and you can use an immersion blender to roughly blend half of the soup right in the pot. If you're looking to speed up your prep, consider using a ninja vegetable chopper (affiliate link) to make the process even more efficient. This recipe can also be adapted for your Instant Pot, as detailed in the FAQ section.
Perfect for meal prep, this white bean and kale soup can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge throughout your workweek. Plus, cannellini beans, with their impressive protein content, will help keep you feeling full and satisfied. These beans play a starring role in other creamy vegan soups like broccoli and cauliflower, making this soup an excellent addition to your meal prep repertoire.
White beans soup ingredients and substitutions:
For this White Beans Soup Recipe, you'll need a handful of simple and versatile ingredients to create a hearty and flavorful dish:
- Yellow Onion: A white or yellow onion is preferred, but you can substitute with red or green onion if needed.
- Celery Sticks: About 3 stalks will do the trick, imparting a delightful flavor to your soup.
- Carrots: These not only provide color but also add a rich depth of flavor to your soup. Don't skip this essential ingredient.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic pairs perfectly with bean dishes, elevating the overall taste.
- Potato: When cut into small cubes, it helps thicken the soup, providing a creamy consistency that's hard to resist.
- Cannellini Beans: These are the stars of the show, but you can substitute them with other white beans. If white beans aren't available, black or white kidney beans can be used, although they may result in a slightly different texture.
- Tomato: Adding both flavor and color to your soup, tomatoes are a key ingredient in this recipe.
- Veggie Broth: This provides a rich, savory base for your soup. If you're in a pinch, you can replace it with water and "Better than Bullion Vegetable" seasonings, chicken stock or other vegan soup seasonings.
- Escarole: While escarole is ideal, you can substitute it with fresh kale or spinach if needed.
- Italian Seasonings: If you don't have Italian seasoning, you can easily make your own by combining equal parts of dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, and cilantro.
- Salt and Black Pepper: Start with the recommended quantities from the recipe and adjust to your taste preference.
- Red Pepper Flakes: If you're not a fan of spicy food, you can omit the red pepper flakes altogether.
- Gremolata: This green sauce is a wonderful garnish made of chopped parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. It pairs beautifully with cannellini beans, adding a burst of freshness to your soup.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make the creamiest white beans soup with escarole and gremolata:
Here's a detailed breakdown of each step in making this delicious Bean Soup:
- Sauté veggies for smoky flavor: Start by sautéing over medium heat your choice of onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in a large pot or slow cooker. This step adds depth and smoky flavor to the soup.
- Add broth, seasonings, and simmer: Pour in low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, along with seasonings like fresh thyme, kosher salt, and a Parmigiano Reggiano rind. Allow the mixture to simmer, infusing the broth with savory goodness.
- Stir in cans of cannellini beans: Add canned cannellini beans, providing a creamy base and making the soup preparation quick and easy. There's no need for an overnight soak when you use canned beans.
- Blend ¼ of the soup for a creamier texture: Take a portion of the soup and blend it using a food processor or an immersion blender. This step creates a creamier consistency while retaining the chunkiness of the remaining soup.
- Add greens and adjust seasonings to taste: Introduce fresh kale or spinach, allowing them to wilt and infuse their flavors into the soup. Adjust seasonings, such as salt and pepper, to your taste.
- Serve hot topped with Gremolata: Ladle the comforting soup into bowls, and top it with a zesty Gremolata made from chopped parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. This garnish adds a burst of freshness to each spoonful, making it your new favorite.
Variations of white bean soup with escarole and gremolata
White bean soup with escarole and gremolata is a versatile dish that can be customized in various ways to suit your taste preferences. Here are some delicious variations to consider:
- Add Protein:
- Sausage: Brown some Italian sausage and add it to the soup for a heartier version.
- Chicken: Shredded or cubed cooked chicken can be a great addition for a lean protein boost.
- Bacon: Crispy bacon bits can lend a smoky, savory flavor to the soup.
- Vegetarian and Vegan Options:
- Plant-Based Sausage: Swap out traditional sausage for a plant-based alternative to keep the dish vegetarian or vegan.
- Tofu: Cubed or crumbled tofu is a protein-rich option for a vegetarian twist.
- Cashew Cream: For a vegan creamy soup, replace dairy with cashew cream or coconut milk.
- Greens Variety:
- Swiss Chard: Substitute escarole with Swiss chard for a different leafy green.
- Spinach: Baby spinach adds a delicate and mild flavor to the soup.
- Kale: Dinosaur kale or curly kale can be used for a heartier texture.
- Additional Veggies:
- Zucchini: Sliced or diced zucchini can add a fresh and slightly crunchy element to the soup.
- Tomatoes: Fresh or canned diced tomatoes contribute a sweet-tart flavor.
- Spice it Up:
- Chili Peppers: Add chopped fresh chili peppers or hot sauce for some extra heat.
- Paprika: A dash of smoked paprika can enhance the smoky undertones of the dish.
- Grains and Pasta:
- Orzo: Cooked orzo or other small pasta can make the soup even heartier.
- Barley: Pearl barley is a nutritious addition for added texture.
- Cheese Toppings:
- Pecorino Romano: Grated Pecorino Romano cheese adds a sharp, salty kick when sprinkled on top.
- Grated Parmesan: A classic choice, Parmesan cheese complements the flavors.
- Pine Nuts: Toasted pine nuts can be used in the gremolata for extra crunch.
- Citrus Variations:
- Orange Zest: Swap lemon zest with orange zest for a citrusy twist.
- Lemon-Lime Combo: Combine lemon and lime zest for a more complex citrus profile.
- Fresh Herbs:
- Basil: Fresh basil leaves provide a different herbal note.
- Cilantro: Chopped cilantro can offer a fresh and zesty touch.
- Cannellini Bean Alternatives:
- Great Northern Beans: Try these beans for a slightly different texture and taste.
- Navy Beans: Navy beans can also be used as an alternative to cannellini beans.
- Serve with Bread:
- Grilled Cheese: A classic grilled cheese sandwich is a perfect companion to dunk in the soup.
- Croutons: Homemade or store-bought croutons can add a delightful crunch.
- Additional Herbs and Seasonings:
- Rosemary: Fresh rosemary can provide an earthy and aromatic note.
- Thyme: Dried thyme or fresh thyme leaves add an herby layer of flavor.
Remember to adjust seasonings and quantities to your taste as you experiment with these variations. White bean soup with escarole and gremolata is a canvas for creativity, and you can tailor it to your preferences each time you prepare it. Enjoy exploring these different options to find your favorite version!
Storing white bean soup with escarole and gremolata is easy, and it allows you to enjoy the flavors even after the initial preparation. Here are some steps to ensure proper storage:
- Cool the Soup: Before storing, allow the soup to cool to room temperature. This will prevent condensation from forming inside the storage container.
- Portioning: If you anticipate leftovers, consider portioning the soup into meal-sized servings. This makes it easier to reheat only what you need.
- Airtight Container: Transfer the cooled soup to a clean, airtight container. Glass or plastic containers with secure lids work well. Ensure the container is sealed tightly to prevent air and moisture from getting in.
- Refrigeration: Store the soup in the refrigerator. It can typically be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Check the storage life of the specific ingredients, especially if you added fresh produce, to determine freshness.
- Gremolata Separation: If possible, keep the gremolata separate from the soup. Store it in a small container or airtight bag. Add the gremolata to the soup just before serving to maintain its freshness and crunch.
- Freezing (Optional): If you want to store the soup for a longer period, you can freeze it. Place the soup in a freezer-safe container, leaving some space at the top to allow for expansion. Frozen soup can typically be stored for 2-3 months. To thaw, place it in the refrigerator for a few hours or reheat it directly from frozen on the stovetop.
- Labeling: Consider labeling the container with the date it was prepared. This will help you keep track of freshness.
- Reheating: To enjoy the stored soup, reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave until it's steaming hot. If you stored the gremolata separately, add it just before serving to maintain its texture and flavor even next day.
- Check for Freshness: Before consuming leftover soup, check for any signs of spoilage, such as off odors, unusual colors, or unusual textures. If in doubt, it's best to discard it.
Remember that the storage time may vary depending on the specific ingredients and how long they were initially stored. Always use your best judgment and consider the freshness and shelf life of the individual components in the soup. Proper storage ensures that you can savor your white bean soup with escarole and gremolata as a delightful and convenient meal on another day.
You can absolutely use other white beans like great northern beans or navy beans if cannellini beans are not available. The type of bean may affect the texture slightly but won't significantly alter the overall flavor.
While the gremolata adds a fresh and zesty element to the dish, you can certainly omit it if you don't have the necessary ingredients. The soup will still be flavorful and satisfying.
Yes, you can adapt this recipe for a slow cooker or Instant Pot. In a slow cooker, follow the sautéing steps in a separate pan and then transfer everything to the slow cooker to simmer. In an Instant Pot, use the sauté function for the initial steps, then high pressure cook the soup for a shorter cooking time.
If you don't have escarole, you can substitute it with other leafy greens like kale, spinach, or Swiss chard, depending on your preferences.
If fresh herbs and lemon zest are unavailable, you can use dried herbs or substitute with other fresh herbs or citrus zest for a different flavor profile. Adapt the gremolata to your taste using what you have on hand.
Absolutely. Choose low-sodium broth or use water with low sodium vegetable bouillon. Adjust the salt levels to your taste. Be mindful of the sodium content in canned beans and any other pre-packaged ingredients.
- Firstly, you have the option of using canned beans for a quicker and more convenient soup, or you can cook them from scratch. Remember to rinse canned beans for improved digestion.
- Secondly, if you choose to prepare the beans from scratch, consider soaking them overnight. This helps eliminate some of the starch content in the beans.
- Thirdly, when cooking dry beans, using a slow cooker or an Instant Pot with plenty of water can yield a more tender result compared to cooking them directly on the stovetop.
- If you're looking to reduce the sodium in this recipe, select low-sodium vegetable broth, opt for unsalted canned beans, and exclude salt from the ingredients.
- To achieve an extra creamy texture, blend a small portion of the soup without the need for milk or nuts. This method imparts a rich, creamy flavor while maintaining a vegan-friendly approach.
- Feel free to skip the red chili flakes if you prefer a non-spicy soup.
- For storage, place any remaining soup in individual airtight containers in the refrigerator, where it can be kept fresh for 3-4 days.
- Additionally, this soup freezes remarkably well and can be stored for up to 3 months, making it an excellent option for future lunches.
- Serve the hot soup alongside a slice of homemade bread for a satisfying meal.
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