This quick and easy, "No-Cream" Creamy White Bean soup is absolutely delicious and super easy to make! The ingredients are simple, but the flavor is quite interesting! I like to serve this white winter soup with warm Southern skillet cornbread.
I'm always on the lookout for quick and relatively healthy meals, so when I came across this quick and easy creamy white bean soup recipe in Cook's Illustrated, I took notice.
Why this recipe works
- I slightly adapted their recipe by using less chicken broth and replacing fresh herbs with dried. Of course, you can use fresh herbs in this recipe, just keep in mind that dried herbs are stronger than fresh.
- If you use fresh herbs, you'll want to use three times the amount of dried herbs and add them at the end.
- Also note, this "cream" soup contains no cream.
- The creaminess of the soup is not a dairy product, but pureed canned Great Northern beans. "What?" you say? Canned beans? Yuck! Well, I thought the same thing until I made this delicious soup.
You'll love this recipe!
- Quick and easy - use canned beans; ready in 25-minutes!
- Healthy - contains no cream
- Hearty and filling - full of vitamins, nutrients and fiber
The only dairy in this recipe is Parmesan cheese. If you want a "dairy-free" white bean soup, eliminate the Parmesan cheese or use a vegan substitute.
This is an overview. For exact steps, ingredients and measurements, see the full recipe card below.
- In a large stockpot, add a little olive oil and saute chopped onion and celery. Add chopped garlic, thyme and cayenne pepper to the mixture and saute 1 minute.
- Add the creamy white beans with their liquid, then transfer to a food processor and puree them into a smooth, silky consistency. Add butter and Parmesan cheese to the food processor and pulse ; add chicken broth to food processor and pulse. Transfer this mixture to a large stockpot and add in the sauteed onions and celery.
- Finish it off by adding dried herbs and seasonings, salt and pepper and fresh lemon juice. Garnish with roasted capers, parsley, basil and a drizzle of lemon and olive oil!
- The lemon and capers offer a distinct flavor to this soup, as does the olive oil - you use the same oil you cooked the capers in--so the flavor profile is savory, yet a bit tangy, and the pinch of cayenne pepper really rounds out the flavor!
I strongly encourage you not to eliminate these ingredients--they really add the "wow" factor to this soup, however, if you hate capers just leave them out.
Here's what you'll need
Sometimes, the simple things in life are best, like the ingredients for this recipe! Here's what you need:
- 2 - 15 oz. cans of organic Great Northern White Beans
- 1 ½ cups of chicken broth, capers, olive oil
- Butter, Parmesan cheese
- Onion, celery, fresh garlic, dried thyme, dried parsley, dried basil and a lemon
- Salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
*Vegan version: substitute chicken broth with vegetable broth; eliminate butter and Parmesan cheese
How to make it
There's very little prep for this bowl of deliciousness! First, microwave the capers in a high quality extra virgin olive oil for 2-4 minutes. (Be sure to read the Recipe Notes about cooking the capers!)
Drain capers on paper towel; reserve oil; set aside (If you don't like capers, just skip this step.)
Chop onion, celery and garlic
Sauté vegetables in olive oil
Add beans and their liquid; cook 8 minutes; transfer mixture to food processor
If your food processor is small, work in batches; pulse until smooth
Add butter and Parmesan to food processor; pulse and return soup to stockpot; add chicken broth
Pour soup into bowl and garnish with toasted capers, lemon, basil, parsley and a drizzle of olive oil
What's the difference between Cannellini and Great White Northern Beans?
While both varieties of legumes share similar nutritional profiles, their differences lie primarily in texture and flavor. Cannellini, also known as white kidney beans or Italian beans, are larger, softer and have an inherent nutty flavor.
Great Northern beans are smaller with a grainy texture, and their flavor depends upon what other ingredients they're cooked in...much like mushrooms and tofu. These two white bean varieties are often used interchangeably and yes, you can use Cannellini beans in this recipe!
How to make the soup extra creamy
- There are two things you must do to ensure an extra creamy texture for this white bean soup. First, soften the beans by cooking them on the stovetop for about 8 minutes.
- Then, transfer them to a blender or food processor using a slotted ladle or strainer for further refining.
- If your blender or food processor is small, you may have to work in batches.
- Unfortunately, a hand held emulsifier doesn't work as well as the two combined-methods above.
How to thicken no cream white bean soup
If you prefer a thicker version, use a cornstarch slurry.
- Get a one-cup measuring cup and put 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in it. Then, fill it up with water to the 1-cup mark; combine well
- Turn the heat up to medium-high heat on the soup and drizzle in the slurry, stirring constantly; once soup begins to boil, stir for about 30-seconds, then remove the pan from the heat. The soup will continue to thicken upon resting about 5-minutes prior to serving.
Great Northern White beans are the perfect "blank canvas" for a variety of flavorful toppings!
This version uses toasted capers, lemon, parsley and basil, but feel free to experiment with toppings on your homemade white bean soup!
- Sauteed leeks and fried sage
- Chopped tomatoes and bacon
- Rosemary, pesto and pine nuts
Storage and reheating
Store this "no cream" creamy white bean soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. For best results, reheat on the stovetop on low heat, or in the microwave for a few minutes.
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If you make this soup, please leave a comment and rating below! I love to hear from you!
"No-Cream" Creamy White Bean Soup
- Blender or food processor
- Strainer, colander or slotted spoon
- 3.5 ounces capers drained; (this is one little jar of capers; a little over ¼ cup)
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 30 ounces Great Northern White Beans, canned do not discard liquid
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter , salted or unsalted
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 1½ cups chicken broth or stock
- ½ cup yellow onion chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic small to medium cloves; minced
- lemon juice , fresh; See Recipe Notes
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley garnish
- ½ tablespoon dried basil garnish
- salt and pepper to taste , for best results, use white ground vs black ground pepper
Make the Topping
- In a microwave bowl, add ⅓ cup olive oil and ¼ cup drained capers; cook on high for 2-4 minutes; use a slotted spoon and remove cooked capers; drain capers onto paper towel; reserve oil and set asideSee Recipe Notes⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, 3.5 ounces capers
Make the Soup
- In a large stockpot on medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil; add chopped onion and celery; saute for 5 minutes2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup yellow onion, 1 stalk celery
- Add garlic, thyme and cayenne pepper to onion mixture; combine well2 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- Add canned beans and their liquid to stockpot; cook on medium heat until beans begin to break up (about 8-10 minutes)30 ounces Great Northern White Beans, canned
- Using a slotted spoon, ladle bean mixture into food processor; pulse on high for 2 minutes: (See Recipe Notes: Food Processor)
- Add butter and parmesan to food processor; pulse on high for 2 minutes2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Add 1 cup of chicken broth to food processor; pulse on high for 2 minutes1½ cups chicken broth or stock
- Pour contents from the food processor back into large stockpot
- Add remaining ½ cup of chicken broth and one teaspoon of lemon juice; stir and cook on medium until hot; taste for salt and peppersalt and pepper to taste, lemon juice
- Pour soup into bowls; drizzle each bowl with a few drops of fresh lemon juice and the reserved olive oil from the microwaved capers
- Sprinkle chopped parsley, basil and capers over top of soup and serve½ tablespoon dried basil, 1 tablespoon dried parsley