Garlicky White Bean Soup with Dark Greens

A simple bowl of white bean soup graces my table. It has a garlicky broth with little specks of oregano floating among the beans, and a beautiful reddish tint from tomato paste. Finally, in contrast to the beans, I find gently simmered dark greens. It’s simple, but flavorful and  delicious.

If you enjoy soups like this, you also may like my soup cookbook, Ladled: Nourishing Soups for all Seasons. 

This rustic Italian style soup is very easy to make, frugal, and nutritious! You can add part homemade broth for the water for even more nutrition, though it will have plenty of flavor without it. I have also put kale in this soup with delicious results. Any dark green would do. It’s also a great dish to serve to vegan or vegetarian friends.

Speaking of vegetarian meals, Heidi Swanson from, one of the most creative food bloggers out there, has set up a new recipe search! Super Natural Recipes contains hand picked recipes by Heidi focused on recipes including whole foods and natural ingredients. It also happens to include many recipes from yours truly. Check it out!

Garlicky White Bean Soup with Dark Greens -10-12 servings

You could serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top and rustic bread on the side.

      Soak 4 cups of white beans overnight in plenty of water (I used great northern beans)

10-12 cups of water
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups of baby spinach (or one bunch of kale, swiss chard, or dark green of your choice)

1/3 cup of olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced or put through garlic press
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 cup of tomato paste
Sea Salt and Pepper

1-Rinse and drain your beans, then add to a large pot. Add 10-12 cups of water, the smashed garlic cloves, bay leaves and olive oil.
Bring to a boil and turn down heat to a low simmer. Simmer until beans are soft and tender. How long this takes will depend on how old your beans are, and what type you are using, but it should generally take about 1 1/2 hours.

2-Wash and drain the baby spinach leaves (or wash and chop dark greens of your choice). Add to soup and allow to simmer while you do step three. Baby spinach will only take a few minutes to completely cook, while kale or swiss chard can take up to 10-15 minutes to really soften.

3- In a small saucepan heat the olive oil until hot. Add the tomato paste, oregano, and garlic. Continually stir until the the olive oil is tinted with red, and the garlic is softening (but not brown). Pour this flavorful mix over your beans in the pot and stir in.

4-Taste test, you will need to add plenty of salt and pepper (remember you haven’t added any in yet). Serve slightly cooled. If you serve it piping hot, you won’t be able to taste as much of the flavors. Enjoy!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Shintao says

    Every once in a while a great recipe comes along that is to good to pass up, and this is one of them. And it’s super heathly for you as an added bonus!! I appreciate a good soup, so thank you for taking the time to share this soup with the World.

  2. Krysta N says

    This soup saved my bacon tonight! I’m pregnant and needed a little extra protein and nourishment before bed – soup is the only thing that struck my fancy. So at 9:30pm I found myself in front of the stove making a 15-minute quarter-batch of this, substituting chicken broth and a can of cannellini beans. I had just enough spinach left in the fridge too; it was perfect! Thanks for such a simple yet filling recipe!

    • Christy says

      Much like Krysta’s comment, I’m also pregnant, seeking some extra protein, and finding very few things that sound appetizing. This soup was the perfect answer! Tomato products are a bit of a turn-off for me right now, so I just used chicken broth instead, but it turned out perfect. Baby and I thank you for this recipe!

  3. says

    I just made this soup today. It is incredible!! This is going into the regular rotation. It’s so easy and so GOOD! Try it with a splash of tamari. Yum!

  4. Gloria says

    I am starting to soak the beans tonight I will let you know how it turns out .
    The recipe sounded so good i can’t wait to taste it .Thanks

  5. Delphine says

    I made this soup because it looked mysterious. I read the ingredients and was intrigued a little more. I made it and added shrimp and tons of pepper. We like spicey foods. It was wonderful and it appears that it would serve well as a cold soup tio. I may try a scotch bonnet pepper next


  6. Kimberly says

    I am so uninspired alone — so using this recipe, I moved forward on dinner, to use leftover turkey stock from Thanksgiving, canned beans, and baby kale for this soup. I love soup but everyone in my family dislikes it. 🙁 So I was dreading dinner but everyone loved it. My oldest child had three bowls, my husband had two, and I think it was a win all around. So thankful for your encouragement in the recipe department. thank you!

  7. Carole says

    I made this soup today with a variety of greens from the garden (beet greens, kale, pak choi, brussels sprouts leaves and rainbow chard) and it was DELICIOUS!!! I will make this again and again!

  8. Kim says

    I’m a little confused by the comments. This just tasted like one big oil slick. Did I miss a step. So upset how bad it turned out.

    • Jolene says

      I have been tasting the soup liquid as the beans have been simmering. It tastes pretty darn good so I’m afraid to add that oil mixture and get the taste you’re describing. Thanks to your comment, I will follow my gut, and leave it out!

      Soup tastes wonderful!

  9. Gail says

    Your soup recipe was the inspiration for the soup I made yesterday!
    I had 4 quarts of homemade chicken stock in the fridge that I needed to get used up, so I started by putting 2 quarts in my cast iron dutch oven, and added 3 cans of drained and rinsed northern beans.
    While that was simmering, I put two cubes of Land O Lakes Garlic & Herb Saute Express into a cast iron skillet, along with 4 minced garlic cloves and the tomato paste, and stirred together. Then I added that to the pot, along with a couple containers of fresh, organic lettuce, and some red chili pepper flakes, some Himalayan salt and cracked pepper.
    It was fabulous!

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  10. Gigi H says

    I have made this soup so many times now and it is always perfectly wonderful, the only thing I change is to experiment with the types of beans and add more garlic. Bob’s Red Mill mixed beans were used in the most recent pot. Thanks!

  11. says

    My family loves this soup! We’ve been eating in for the past few years, and it’s always a hit. We usually use kale instead of pinch, and the garlic wafting through the house while it cooks… wonderful! I should probably print it to have a hard copy, but I love visiting your site. Thanks!

  12. lee says

    I made this today (we’re having a cold snap in the Midwest). It’s delicious. Since my husband and son like a bit of meat, I sautéed some pancetta in a bit of olive oil and put it in a side dish for them to add.

  13. CJ says

    I made this today. I used a can of Cannelini Beans and a can of Chick peas. I used one box of chicken broth. The rest of your recipe I followed. My-oh-m, healthy soup. It’s a new favorite now. Thank you for sharing!

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