Slow cook your way to a steamy bowl of comfort with this chicken & kale soup! White beans, carrots, and Parmesan shavings round out this easy dinner, which is healthy to boot. Serve with some crusty bread and extra cheese for extra yum. Originally published January 10, 2017.
Table of Contents
- What you’ll need for this healthy Chicken and Bean Soup
- Chicken Bean Soup substitutions and variations
- How to make White Bean Chicken Soup
- What makes this chicken soup healthy?
- How to serve Chicken and White Bean Soup
- Storing Chicken and White Bean Soup
- Chicken White Bean Kale Soup FAQs
- Slow Cooker Chicken, White Bean, and Kale Soup with Parmesan Shavings Recipe
Eric has started to make a small “ding!” sound every time I close the sliding door of my closet. I think he figures that if I hear a pleasant “ding!” as a reward for shutting the closet door, I will do it more often. You know, kind of like Pavlov’s dog. (Ring a bell, give food. Eventually the dog salivates at the bell, without the food.)
I’m slightly offended to be a mere subject in his psychological experiment, but at the same time have caught myself silently “dinging” myself for all sorts of things now as a mini reward. Who knew I was so easy to please? Maybe I’m part canine? A little worried that I’m going to start requesting belly rubs and ear scratches soon.
Have you jumped on the kale bandwagon? I heard this interview of a restaurant critic on the radio the other day where she totally slams kale. At least, kale as it is often prepared in these trendy times. (Kale salad, kale chips, kale pizza.) She said that years ago grocery stores would leave it on the stands outside during winter, so that it would partially freeze, which made it more tender. And even then it was usually tossed into a soup or stew.
I was cheering the whole interview. I mean, have you ever had kale chips? They’re gross. If you think otherwise, I think you’ve drunk the Kool aid. (It was probably kale-flavored.)
Kale in soup, however, is a completely different story. It becomes tender and absorbs the flavors around it.
What you’ll need for this healthy Chicken and Bean Soup
Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!
- Olive oil
- Diced tomatoes
- Great northern beans
- Italian seasoning
- Chicken broth (I like to use Better than Bouillon Chicken Base)
- Cooked, shredded chicken (2 cups)
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (rind and shavings)
Chicken Bean Soup substitutions and variations
Consider this soup a blank canvas and make it your own. Here are some ideas to get you started (but it’s infinitely variable!).
- If you have celery you’ve been neglecting in the veggie drawer, you can chop up a cup or so and add celery with the onions and carrots.
- Don’t have pre-cooked, shredded chicken? Cook up a couple chicken thighs or breasts and shred or chop them as you prefer. Sautéing, baking, boiling, or grilling all work.
- Want to make this soup vegetarian? Toss in an extra can of great northern beans and omit the chicken.
- I promise the kale in this soup is delicious (way better than raw! Not even the same thing!) but if you still have doubts, you can substitute a comparable amount of spinach. You won’t need to simmer it for 10-15 minutes, since it’s a less hearty green; instead, you can just stir it into the hot soup and serve.
- If you don’t have great northern beans or are having trouble finding them at the store, you can substitute cannellini beans (another type of white bean).
- Won’t be home all day to cook? Make the slow cooker version of this soup instead!
How to make White Bean Chicken Soup
Here’s a quick overview of how to make this recipe. Full instructions can be found in the recipe card below!
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions and carrots and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, white beans, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and bring to a boil.
- Add the chicken broth, the chicken, and the Parmesan rind.
- Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and let cook for 20-30 minutes. Add the kale, one cup at a time.
- Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve with Parmesan cheese shavings.
What makes this chicken soup healthy?
This soup is so hearty and healthy, yet completely satisfying. It’s the perfect meal for when you aren’t feeling well! The chicken and beans have tons of protein to support the immune system. The chicken broth is hydrating and salty, perfect for your dulled taste buds. The carrots and tomatoes and onions have vitamins and mineral to help fight off a cold, and of course the kale that I’ve been trashing this whole post comes through for you with tons of minerals and fiber. WIN.
I also love how versatile this soup is. Swap out the vegetables, swap out the bean type, etc. I just talked to my friend Shannon the other day, she’s the one who gave me the recipe, and she said she was going to try it with sausage, which I think would be awesome! Whatever you do, don’t leave out the Parmesan rind. It totally takes this soup above and beyond!
How to serve Chicken and White Bean Soup
This soup is a complete meal on its own, but it’s really incredible with homemade rolls or bread. Here are some of my favorites to pair it with! (Like wine pairings, but bread pairings. Definitely more my style.)
- One Hour French Bread << it’s magical how quickly this crusty loaf comes together.
- The Best Garlic Bread of Your Life << is there anything better than buttery, garlicky bread?!
- Sweet and Moist Cornbread << this isn’t exactly chili, but it’s, like, chili-adjacent? And cornbread never hurt anything.
- Easy Fluffy One Hour Dinner Rolls << these are pillowy, soft, and buttery. In ONE HOUR.
- Garlic Knots << make these and you’ve created a total power couple.
Storing Chicken and White Bean Soup
This soup can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. The flavors honestly keep getting better every day as they mingle together, so it’s a perfect meal to cook on the weekend and take to work or school all week.
Can you freeze this soup?
Yes, this soup freezes very well. You can portion it into individual servings or just throw the whole thing into a labeled ziplock bag.
Chicken White Bean Kale Soup FAQs
I know it sounds crazy, but…it’s white beans. If you want the broth of the soup to have a thicker, creamier texture, all you need to do is blend about half a can of the white beans with a little liquid and add it right in. The way I’ve made it, the broth is more clear and the ingredients within it are more distinct, but it would be delicious with a creamier broth too.
In this chicken soup we’re adding parmesan rinds for richness and flavor. Think of how many beautiful, flavorful parmesan rinds have been thrown away when they could have been added to a soup! It’s a tragedy, and I’m doing my part to stop it.
Good soup is no different from any other dish. What makes it good is using quality ingredients, in balanced amounts, and cooking them for the right amount of time. This soup uses simple ingredients to create the base of the soup: chicken and beans. They don’t have tons of flavor, but they’re full of protein and they do a great job of absorbing the flavors of other ingredients (the ones that DO have tons of flavor: onions, garlic, carrots, Italian seasoning, and those amazing Parmesan rinds. The tomatoes add acid, which helps to balance the other flavors (including their own sweetness and the sweetness of the carrots). The chicken broth adds a little saltiness (and more flavors of its own). The kale is there to add texture and to make you feel like an awesomely healthy person who’s going to live to 100.
More soups you will love!
- Creamy Turkey Wild Rice Soup (Crockpot/Stovetop) <<This is so warm and golden in your mouth
- Zuppa Toscana Copycat (Sausage, Potato, and Kale Soup) << A copycat of the Olive Garden favorite, plus more kale!
- The Best Chili Recipe I’ve Ever Made (Slow Cooker)
- Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Noodles
- Beef Barley Soup (Slow Cooker) << This is one of the most popular recipes on my site! It’s soooo flavorful and delicious! Old family recipe.
- Split Pea Soup with Smoked Gouda (Slow Cooker) << This is a personal favorite of mine! The gouda. I’m tellin you. Don’t knock it til you try it.
- Slow Cooker Quinoa Chicken Parmesan Soup from Chelsea’s Messy Apron
- Slow Cooker King Ranch Chicken Soup from House of Yumm
- Slow Cooker Lemon Rosemary Lentil Soup from Melanie Makes
Slow Cooker Chicken, White Bean, and Kale Soup with Parmesan Shavings
- 3 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed*
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 (15-oz) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 rind Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 6-8 cups kale, chopped into bite-size pieces
- Parmigiano Reggiano shavings
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Remove the skin from the chicken and salt and pepper well.
- Add the olive oil to the hot skillet. When it starts to shimmer, add the chicken. Sear well for 1-3 minutes, then flip and sear the other side until brown.
- Add the onion, carrots, garlic, diced tomatoes, white beans, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, chicken broth, and Parmesan rind to a 6-7 quart crock pot.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
- Remove the chicken and shred, discarding bones. Return to the crock pot.
- Add 6-8 cups of chopped kale, cover, and cook for another 10-20 minutes.
- Serve with lots of Parmesan shavings and crusty bread!