Tomato White Bean Soup with Kale Pesto

November 2, 2016

Warm up this fall and winter with a bowl of tomato white bean soup topped off with a dollop of kale pesto. Serve with a hunk of crusty bread for dipping.

Tomato White Bean Soup in Bowl

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Even though I grew up and still live in the northeast, I’m not the biggest fan of cold weather. The only thing I like about the cold? It coincides with soup season! I could (and do) eat soup all year long – even on the hottest days of summer, but there’s really nothing I love more on a cold day than to warm up with a bowl of hot soup, especially this Tomato White Bean Soup!

My Love of Soup

I love everything from Classic Jewish Chicken Soup to hearty Vegetable Soup to creamy (yet cream-less) soups like my Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup. Some soups are perfect as an appetizer, while others are a meal in itself – take for example my Corn Tortilla Soup with Black Beans or this Chicken Vegetable Udon Soup. Needless to say, soup for me is a perfect balance of comfort and nutrition. And this Tomato White Bean Soup with Kale Pesto is another soup recipe that fits the bill for just that!

I originally made this tomato white bean soup in November 2012, shortly after Hurricane Sandy. It was during that storm that I finally had time to catch up on a backlog of magazines I had piling up, including SELF Magazine’s April 2012 issue. In it was this recipe for Tomato-White Bean Soup with Pesto that sounded easy to make, light, and delicious, so I added it to my menu plan for the following week.

Tomato White Bean Soup with Bread

When I finally got to making the SELF recipe, it turned out a few adjustments were necessary to get the soup to serve-worthy status. The soup didn’t have nearly enough flavor, but I already had the pot on the stove simmering, so I needed to act fast. I added a couple more herbs to the soup and made the pesto a second time. The end result – a delicious pot of soup that’s full of flavor and still nutritious.

Appetizer or Entree? You Choose

This Tomato White Bean Soup can fall into the appetizer or entree course of a meal depending on portion size. Since it’s pureed it may not feel as filling as a chunky soup, but it’s full of vegetables and beans, aka satiating fiber and protein that should keep you full. I highly recommend serving with a big hunk of crusty on the outside, soft on the inside whole grain or sourdough bread (if you want to make your own, check out a fellow RD’s recipe here!).

The recipe for kale pesto makes more than you need for a dollop on every bowl of soup, so menu plan accordingly to use the leftovers on the Fall Roasted Root Vegetable Pasta with Kale Pesto I shared last week (I promised you another use of that pesto!) or as a topping for pizza or a slice of that crusty bread you’ll have leftover for lunch the next day.

Tuscan White Bean Soup with Kale Pesto is gluten free, vegetarian, and also a great option for vegans if you serve it without the pesto or make the pesto without cheese. If you choose to eliminate the pesto it is also a nut-free recipe.

Tomato White Bean Soup with Spoon

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Warm up this fall and winter with a bowl of tomato white bean soup topped off with a dollop of kale pesto. Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan-friendly.

Tomato White Bean Soup with Kale Pesto

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes

Warm up this fall and winter with a bowl of tomato white bean soup topped off with a dollop of kale pesto. Serve with a hunk of crusty bread for dipping.

Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan-Friendly
(nut-free without the pesto)


For the Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (~1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped (~1 to 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped (~1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, quartered
  • One quart (32 ounces) low-sodium vegetable stock
  • One 15-oz can no-salt added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Kale Pesto (optional):

  • 1 1/2 bunches kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


To Make the Soup:

  1. In a medium to large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and stir occasionally until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of the broth and stir to scrape brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Add remaining stock, beans, tomatoes, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper, to taste. Bring soup to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are very soft, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Remove bay leaves from soup and discard. Using an immersion blender, puree soup, leaving some of it chunky if desired. Stir in lemon juice, and season with more salt and pepper as needed

To Make Kale Pesto:

  1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Blanch the kale by adding it to the pot of boiling water and cooking for about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from pot and run under cold water to stop cooking. Strain and squeeze out excess liquid.
  2. In a large food processor, puree blanched kale, walnuts, garlic, cheese, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice until smooth.
  3. Serve soup with a dollop of pesto on top and swirl in.


  • To make vegan, omit cheese from pesto or use dairy-free cheese.
  • To make nut-free, eliminate the pesto or make pesto without walnuts.
  • Nutrition facts below do not include pesto.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 286mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 7gSugar: 7gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information was calculated by Nutritionix. It may not be 100% accurate.

Are you a soup fanatic like I am?

If so, I’d love to know your favorite kind of soup!

Share with me in the comments below!

Tomato White Bean Soup with Text Overlay

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    1. Thanks Kaleigh! Good to know Texans enjoy their soup too πŸ˜‰ So glad you liked this one. Thanks again for the beautiful pics!

  1. I agree, there is nothing like a big comforting bowl of your favorite soup. This looks SO good and love that you added white beans for protein + flavor. And that kale pesto … YUM. We just got back from a week of eating out and this looks like the perfect healthy dish to get us back into our normal (better) eating habits!

    1. Thanks Jenny! Hope you had a great time away, and I definitely know that feeling! We’re going on the Disney Cruise over Thanksgiving and I already know I’ll need the healthiest meal plan the week we return!

  2. I use to be on the fence about soup and then I became an actual adult (with a mortgage, kids, etc) and now I can’t get enough. I literally have soup almost every night.

    This sounds fantastic! I like the addition of the beans, gives it some more heartiness and meal quality. Great recipe!

    1. Haha that’s funny. I’m interested in hearing more about the correlation between being an adult and liking soup πŸ˜‰ And yes, the beans definitely beef it up (without the beef, that is!)

    1. Thanks Sonali! The truth is I rarely stick to a recipe from someone else (except yours – they are always spot on!), but this one needed some help bigtime! It’s been so mild here too that it’s been hard to justify making soup, but I can always go for a bowl!

  3. 5 stars
    Soup is the perfect comfort food! I think I may have to add this to our menu soon too! Shoot, first things first, maybe I should start a menu?! I love that you have this from the April 2012 issue too!

    1. Couldn’t agree more Liz! Soup is the best. Haha – time to get on that menu planning Liz!! As for having that recipe, I made it back in 2012 and just updated the post after all these years (shhh, don’t tell!).

  4. […] Dinner: Southwestern Cauliflower Rice Casserole and Tomato White Bean Soup […]

  5. Oh my gosh, this looks sooo good! Why have I never thought to put pesto in tomato soup before. I will definitely be doing this!

  6. I’ve been making soups non-stop, usually at least 2 kinds per week and I think this one is next. I’ve actually never put white beans in a soup so I can’t wait to try this one!

  7. 5 stars
    Yum! This recipe looks so perfect for these cold, cold winter days. I just love how you used beans in the soup too, such a perfect way to use up those pantry staples.

  8. Hi there, this recipe sounds delicious but I would not claim that it is nut-free when the pesto has walnuts in it.

    1. Hi Bec, Thanks for pointing that out. I just updated the recipe tag to address the nuts in the pesto. The soup itself is nut-free, which is why I had that claim in there. If you are allergic to nuts you can leave out the pesto or make a nut-free pesto. Hope you will give it a try!

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