This vegan main-course soup is a meal in a bowl
Kale is wonderful any time of year, but it always seems best when there’s a chill in the air (as there is in much of the US about now). That’s because cold weather sweetens the flavor of kale, making an already great-tasting vegetable even better.
Cold temps also make many of us crave warm, hearty dishes—especially homemade soup.
You can see where we’re going with this: Just mix some of that delicious kale with quinoa (a nutritional powerhouse) and white beans for a tasty dish that is dinner all by itself. Of course, you could add a salad and some bread too, if you insist.
Easy, tasty, hearty. Who misses summer?
Recipe: Kale, Quinoa, and White Bean Soup
Ingredient quantities are flexible in this recipe. You can also substitute ingredients if you choose. For example, I’m using dried beans in today’s soup, but you can substitute canned—I include instructions in the Notes. If you don’t have quinoa on hand (or prefer not to use it), you could also substitute rice or a small pasta shape (like ditalini). But quinoa and kale do make a dynamite combo (just sayin’).
Cooking tenderizes kale (though you can also eat it raw—it’s particularly tasty when chopped finely or “shaved”; for example, see our post on Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing). But cooking too long causes kale to lose its vibrant green hue (in fact, if you really overcook it, kale eventually turns grey).
I suggest you cook kale for about 10 minutes (it stays green that way, and is plenty tender). Cooking for 20 minutes will improve tenderness somewhat, although the color will be less attractive. In any case, to cook the kale, add it to the soup for the last 10 to 20 minutes of cooking time. Note that even if you wait until 10 minutes before the soup is done to add the kale, it will continue to cook (and become less bright green) if you leave the soup pot simmering on the stove before serving.
If using dried beans, you need to soak them overnight (or do a quick soak—see Notes). Cooking time for this soup is an hour and a half when using dried beans (or about half that time if you substitute canned). Prep time is about 20 minutes, but part of that can be done while the beans begin cooking.
This recipes yields about 3 quarts or so. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days if stored in airtight containers, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- 8 ounces dried white beans, soaked overnight (see Notes for a “quick soak” method and for information on substituting canned beans)
- 10 cups water (may substitute vegetable stock; see Notes)
- 2 medium onions
- 2 - 3 cloves garlic (to taste)
- ½ to ¾ pound carrots (exact quantity not critical—this is your ballpark figure)
- 1 - 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
- salt to taste (start with ½ teaspoon of Kosher salt if in doubt)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (start with 5 or 6 grinds if in doubt)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ~1 cup quinoa
- 1 bunch of kale (¾ pound or so)
- Sort through the dried beans to pick out pebbles or dirt; then soak the beans overnight (or for at least for 8 hours) before you begin to prepare the soup (see Notes for a “quick soak” option).
- When ready to make the soup, drain the beans and pour them into a large cooking pot, such as a Dutch oven (you want something that holds at least 6 quarts). Add 10 cups of water (you may need more later). Bring the beans to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Set a timer for one hour.
- Peel the onions and cut them into dice of ½ inch or less. Peel the garlic and dice fine, or slice thinly (I usually slice garlic because I like relatively large pieces).
- Scrape the carrots and cut off the ends. Cut the carrots in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into half rounds, maybe an eighth of an inch thick (exact sizing not critical here).
- Heat a skillet (preferably nonstick) on the stovetop on medium heat. When heated, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot (it’ll shimmer), add the onions, garlic, and carrots.
- Add salt and pepper to season, and sauté until the onions begin to brown (8 to 10 minutes).
- Add the red pepper flakes and thyme to the onion mixture, then add the can of tomatoes. Cook for a minute, then add the mixture to the beans. Continue cooking the beans until the timer goes off at the hour mark.
- Meanwhile, measure out the quinoa and prepare the kale. Wash the kale and remove center stems (just pull them out as you would when cleaning spinach). Chop the kale roughly—smallish pieces are better than fine ones, but a mix of sizes is OK.
- When the timer goes off, add the quinoa to the bean-and-tomato mixture. Check the water level and add additional water if too much has evaporated. Set the timer for another 20 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, add the kale (you could actually add it in Step 9—but see headnote for why I suggest you don’t). Set the timer for another 10 minutes (at which time the soup should be done).
- When the timer goes off, taste the soup, adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve.
- Need to “quick soak” beans? Here’s how: Sort through the beans, discarding any dirt or stones; then rinse off the beans and pour them into the 6-quart (or larger) pot that you’ll use to make the soup. Fill the pot with water so that it covers the beans by 5 inches, then place the pot on the stove and bring it to a boil. Boil for two minutes, then turn off the stove and cover the pot; allow it to sit for an hour. Once the hour is up, drain the beans and proceed with Step 2 of the recipe.
- If you prefer to substitute canned beans, skip Steps 1 and 2 of the recipe; instead, drain the canned beans and rinse off the gunk they’re stored in. Prepare the onions, garlic, and carrots (Steps 3 and 4). Don’t use a skillet to cook them (as instructed in Steps 5 and 6); instead, sauté the veggies in oil in a 6-quart or larger cooking pot, such as a Dutch oven. When the onions are brown, add the pepper flakes, thyme, and tomatoes and cook briefly. Then add the drained canned beans and the 10 cups of water. Bring the pot to a simmer, set a timer for half an hour, and proceed with Step 8 when the timer goes off.
- BTW, you can use any white bean that you like in this dish. Cannellini or Great Northern are what I usually use, but Navy beans work too.
- I think water works well in this dish, but if you want to amp up the flavor a bit, you could use vegetable stock. Or chicken stock (but of course then the soup will no longer be vegan).
- Note that quinoa does absorb some of the soup’s liquid when it cooks, so you may need to add a bit more water right before serving. Just simmer for a minute or two to let it blend in with the soup.
- We’ve talked about quinoa before, but I’ll repeat myself for those who may be new to the blog: Quinoa has become deservedly popular over the past decade because it’s highly nutritional and gluten free (it isn’t a true cereal grain because it isn’t part of the grass family; rather, it belongs to the chenopod family, a pseudocereal). Quinoa has more fat than most cereals, including small amounts of omega-3 fatty acid.
- Because of its popularity, demand for quinoa has exploded—as has its price. Alas, the price probably won’t drop anytime soon. In a recent Washington Post article, Lydia DePillis explains that quinoa will likely remain in short supply because although the world’s major producers (Peru and Bolivia) are increasing output, demand is growing even faster. And though quinoa can be grown in North America, the market isn’t yet large enough to tempt farmers to plant it here—especially since it can be a difficult crop to cultivate.
“Kale is so delish,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, sipping her bowl of soup. “And I love its looks.”
“It’s nice,” I agreed. “Particularly good with quinoa.”
“Yes, they do make a keen combo,” said Mrs K R.
“And the soup isn’t all that kale-oric,” I said.
“Groan,” said Mrs K R.
“Well, you started it,” I said. “But I’ll declare a truce. No more veggie puns, promise.”
“Good thing,” said Mrs K R. “And I promise not to bean you.”
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White Bean and Potato Soup
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John this looks so hearty and delicious. I love that you used quinoa in this along with the kale. This is definitely a SuperSoup packed with nutrition. Great recipe and perfect for these chilly days we've been having.
warm soup packed with nutritions.. wow looks really yummy and healthy .. Glad to follow you :)
Hi John , had the white bean soup , but never with kale and quinoa , which which I love , all I need ia a big bowl and a hunk of your jalapeno cornbread , thanks for sharing :).
I love the use of quinoa in this soup! Nice recipe!!
Kale and Quinoa? Look at you get all healthy with us. Better provide a good cocktail soon my friend. :)
Hi Vicki, quinoa and kale is a great combo. Some might call it keen. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sowmya, welcome! This really is a tasty soup. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nee, this is a nice variation on white bean soup. Tons of flavor, loads of nutrition. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ashley, it's really good stuff! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Barb, yeah, there outta be a law against that? I'll be doing another cocktail first week of November. I really should up my posting frequency and do one weekly, except you have that covered! Thanks for the comment.
That's the perfect treat for colder days-one of the reasons why I love fall :)
I love a hearty, healthy white bean soup in the fall. This totally fits the bill for what I've been craving lately! Thanks for sharing, John.
What a lovely bowl filled with lovely ingredients = kale, quinoa, white beans & tomatoes. Mmmmmm, perfect for the chilly season. I am looking forward to going back to the U.S. and use the kale for a variety of dishes since there aren’t any here.
Oh Kale, I know I said before that I am going to try it... but before I know it, it's been a year since I promise to resolve that. tsk tsk too bad, I think I'm missing on something... I'm not very fond of plain vegetables but with this dish, who misses meat?
What a wonderful flavour my friend, so delicious and hearty :D
Choc Chip Uru
I miss summer! I did not know that the cold sweetens Kale!
And this soup is packed full of some of my favs - kale, quinoa and white beans! Yum!
Thanks so much for sharing
Gorgeous and simple! I love it. I love beans in soup and lately, like you, I love adding kale. I like to roast it first so it gets crispy and then we just crumble it over soups and stews. Your email this morning showcasing this bean soup decided my dinner tonight, not soup, but rice and beans with kale. Thanks John!
I see a lot of Kale still thriving in many gardens in my area, John. I was thinking about growing some next year but hesitated. However, when I see this seasonal soup flowing with goodness and nutrition, I better put kale on my growing list!
Thank you so much for sharing, John...
Hi Daniela, it really is a nice meal for a fall day. I love fall too! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Georgia, this really is a nice, healthy soup. Tons of flavor, too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Miam, I'll bet you'd like this soup. It must be so much fun to travel and see what ingredients you can - and can't - find! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Malou, this is the perfect dish for meat lovers! Loads of flavor, so you really won't miss meat at all. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Uru, probably too hearty for the warm weather I know you're enjoying, but keep this in mind when your fall rolls around. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Shashi, this is really a great soup, and kale really shines in it. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nazneen, roast kale is great! I love making kale chips. Rice and beans with kale sounds wonderful! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Louise, kale is hearty down to something like 10 degrees F (or so I've read) so it's a great fall veggie. We usually plant Swiss chard (which isn't as hardy), but next year I think I'll grow kale too. Thanks for the comment.
I love that Mrs. KR always gets the last word! This looks positively sumptuous! Now do you have a way to get manservant to eat it? I know I'm going to have to add meat. He is already leary of kale. Quinoa I can get away with and he will love the beans. Maybe I'll float a lot of cheese on the top so he won't see the green? Whatever. I want some now!
Hi Abbe, Mrs K R has a way of doing that, doesn't she? ;-) I think if manservant tried this he'd like it - it's got loads of flavor. Otherwise, before serving stir in some diced leftover roast beef or chicken into his portion. You'll both be happy! Thanks for the comment.
Actually, I'm a summer person... but I like soup too :D
Being a Singaporean, I think I can tolerate heat pretty well... even eating hot soup during hot summer. In regardless of any season, a bowl of your healthy hearty quinoa and white bean soup is always good :D
Now why haven't I added quinoa to my soups??? This looks terrific...and with the lovely cold front working its way towards the Midwest, I'm going to have to make a batch soon!
Hety, I thought puns were my job. GREG
This is a great post on so many levels. First, its beauty!! Wow. Second, Kale. Quinoa. Rock stars, both of them. I discovered quinoa this summer and will soon be tackling dishes with kale, this soup is a great place for me to start; nice work!!
I just watched Ina Garten make some white bean soup, it was one of her "French" episodes... aside from the Kale and Quinoa (both healthy), this is something coming out of Ina's kitchen, but healthier. :-)
Who would have thought quinoa would be sucha great addition.
What a healthy and hearty winter soup! I'm always questioning how long I should cook kale so your advice was much appreciated! Thank you for sharing!
Oh, dear.. I logged out and now I can't seem to log back in! Well, here goes under my Google account:) Love this recipe, love quinoa and think it's such a great idea to put it in soup.. and with kale this is so healthy!
Hi Zoe, summer is great, but fall (and its cool weather) is nice too! We do eat hot soup in the summer, but it's not a regular thing. In the fall? Once or twice a week. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, quinoa in soup makes a nice change. Plus it's a great way to maximize its flavor. Thanks for the comment.
H Greg, there are always enough puns to go around! :-D Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dan, we're eating kale more and more these days - a truly versatile veggie. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Honey, quinoa really is so nice in this soup. Truly good stuff. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Monet, you can actually cook kale for just a few minutes, although it that case I'd cut it fairly fine (just easier to eat). Longer cooking is more tender, but you do lose color. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Barbara, all these various accounts and passwords we have to have are a pain, aren't they? Anyway, this is a pretty healthy recipe. Have to sneak them in now before all the goodies we'll be discussing in December! Thanks for the comment.
Seems like such a cleansing soup, John! Kale really is one of those greens that manages to be hearty for cold weather...can't wait to start using it this season.
Looks fantastic !! nice presentation … delicious
Now here's something that's definitely good for you. What a great soup and so full of flavour and all the things we're supposed to be eating. I love how the soup has plenty of colour. I haven't cooked with kale, only used it in salads so thanks for all the cooking tips xx
A wholesome and satisfying soup. So perfect for this weather!
Hi Irina, kale is so versatile! I know it's one of the "It" veggies at the moment, but it deserves all the love it gets. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cquek, thanks so much for your kind comment.
Hi Charlie, I think this is a soup your uni students would love! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Asmita, isn't it nice? Such great flavor! Thanks for the comment.
I love, love kale and could eat this soup every day for the next few months. Those big, white beans looks great in the soup!
I'm loving all the things you've put together here--big fan of soup in general. I like to crisp kale in a skillet to garnish soups with too. So good!
Hi Lisa, this is really a tasty soup, and one that's fun to play with in the sense you can substitute ingredients. Loads of possibilities with this! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, crisping kale to garnish a soup is a great idea! I haven't done that, but I will. Thanks for the comment.
Simply gorgeous, hearty and yummy John. This is definitely something I'd love to eat for my lunch. The kale and quinoa are great together. Nice one.
That's a hearty bowl of soup and most needed for this cold weather. I saw some cars today with pile of snow on them, we didn't have snow here yet, but its making its way. Yes I need more summer :)
Looks beautiful! I love a good soup...hearty and filling - perfect for fall. Yum.
Hi Asha, isn't this nice? Perfect for lunch! Or dinner. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Shibi, snow? Yuck! Anyway, this will cheer you up when the snow does arrive. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kate, this really is a nice and filling soup! Great flavor, too. Thanks for the comment.
It's cold here in SF today.. like 50s. I'm making pasta tonight but this soup sounds very...tempting! My kids are not into quinoas so I haven't really cooking them much. I'd looove to eat this though. Healthy, nutritious, and light beautiful soup!
John, I love everything about this soup! I've embraced fall with open arms, and lovely soups such as this one are a big reason for doing so. What a satisfying, healthy meal!
A truly fantastic soup, John, and so healthy! How out of place with most of my dishes! :) I do love soups, though, and this one is a great way for me to get familiar with quinoa. Yes, that's right. I've no experience with it whatsoever. I've been waiting for all of the kinks to be worked out. Looks like they have. Thanks, John, for sharing another of your recipes.
I love white bean soup, and this recipe looks terrific. Love the puns!
Hi Nami, the quinoa kind of hides in this dish, so your kids might not even be aware they're eating it. Easy to substitute rice or a small pasta shape, however. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Hannah, we eat a lot of soup throughout the year, but go crazy with them in the fall! And this one is pretty healthy, I must say. Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, I figure I need to throw a healthy dish into the mix now and again just to prove I can do it. ;-) Quionoa is nice in this, but a small pasta shape would work quite well too. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Beth, it's pretty hard to avoid puns sometimes. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
John, I have yet to try kale, would you believe! I think your soup sounds delicious, definitely filling and nourishing. One for my must cook list!
Hi Lizzy, kale is good stuff, although you can substitute most other dark greens. And it really is a super soup - you'd like. Thanks for the comment.
I love all the ingredients here: white beans, kale, quinoa. And so simple to make! This soup will be perfect on a cold night!
Hi Julia, this really is a simple soup, and so, so tasty! I love it! Thanks for the comment.
Last night I made quinoa for the second time, after an unsuccessful first time 3 years ago. This time it was delicious and I finally understand why I'm seeing it used so much. I'm ready to use it again and this looks like it would be a great use! I love kale and white bean soup and your version sound quite delicious. Thanks for such a creative new version of kale and bean soup!
Hi MJ, quinoa really has a lot of virtues! And it's really great in this soup. Simple soup, wonderful flavor. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Looking at those gorgeous bowls of soup makes me think it should be cold outside. :)
Hi Maureen, it's kinda fun that we get to live in alternate realities! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This is just what I need for a healthy boost. Looks delicious!
Hi Julie, isn't this nice? Totally delish! Thanks for the comment.
Thats a vibrant looking soup
Hi Raymund, I like vibrant colors! Thanks for the comment.
Wow, i love the third picture very much...
totally like a pro cookbook recipe photograph!
Hi Dedy, thanks for that very kind comment!
I love autumn (don't miss summer :-)), and this soup combines all the textures I love - creamy beans, tasty greens and nutty grains. Love the puns too :-)
So I have to share this with you. For my favorite bloggers, I can recognize your photography even in amongst all the pics on Pinterest. I haven't commented on this post yet, but happened on it while browsing Pinterest. Hubby and I both agree it sounds fabulous! Beautiful, Hugs, Terra
We don't have kale here so I use spinach as a substitute, regardless your recipe sounds fantastic. Thanks for sharing John!
You are so funny and would be the perfect duo for my husband with your puns! Love this beautiful soup, so healthy and delicious sounding!
Hi Kitchen Butterfly, fall is my favorite season! In part because it's such great soup (and chili!) weather. Glad you enjoyed the puns, and thanks for the comment.
Hi Terra, I know a lot of blogger's pictures at a glance, too! It doesn't seem like it, but over time I guess we establish a particular style. This really is a good dish - well worth trying. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nancy, spinach would be a good substitute! Any dark, leafy green would work, actually. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Chris, I have to admit I have a weakness for puns! Thanks for the comment.
What a comforting soup this is! Kale and quinoa are great combination. Perfect for cold winter day.
Hi Holly, isn't this a nice soup? Great flavor! Thanks for the comment.
Kale always reminds me of fall and always makes me feel like I am eating healthier! :) Beautiful looking soup!
Hi Debra, kale reminds me of fall, too. Mainly because that's when we mainly eat it (we also like it first thing in spring). Thanks for the comment.
John, did Mrs KR wind up 'beaning' you? (just kidding). I've never tried quinoa before, but a lot of people seem to be using it these days- I'll have to get up to speed! BTW, Australians pronounce it "keen-wah." Is that how you say it?
Hi Fran, I'm sure sometimes Mrs K R would love to bean me, but thus far I've been spared! Yup, we pronounce it keen-wah too. Quinoa is definitely worth trying. Thanks for the comment.
John, this soup looks incredible! We've been having some cooler weather and a bowl of this sounds so good right now. Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Anne, it's such a nice soup! Loads of flavor, and quite healthy. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
I've been making soups like this lately -- love all the healthy and wholesome ingredients!
Hi Kiran, I love making soups! Although I make them year round, I do so like them in the cool fall weather. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
This is the perfect meat free meal if I ever saw it!. I'll definitely have this on my dinner menu.
Hi Kristi, this is such a delish dish! And fortunately we have some in the freezer. May be dinner tonight! Thanks for the comment.
I'm in soup mode these days and this soup looks amazing! I love kale and your combination of ingredients is brilliant! So light, but comforting and delicious! Great post!
Hi Bill, it's a great soup! We had some leftovers that we froze last night for dinner - such a great flavor. Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, your comfort soup look so inviting and delicious. Great combination.
Hi Amelia, this really is a terrific combo! Gorgeous flavors. Thanks for the comment.
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