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.

a slow cooker with chicken, kale, white bean, and parmesan soup.
Table of Contents
  1. What you’ll need for this healthy Chicken and Bean Soup 
  2. Chicken Bean Soup substitutions and variations
  3. How to make White Bean Chicken Soup 
  4. What makes this chicken soup healthy?
  5. How to serve Chicken and White Bean Soup
  6. Storing Chicken and White Bean Soup
  7. Chicken White Bean Kale Soup FAQs
  8. 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.)

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a large spoonful of soup with chicken, carrots, white beans, kale, and tomatoes.

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.

a spoon lifting chicken, kale, and white bean soup from a slow cooker.

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
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Great northern beans
  • Italian seasoning
  • Kale 
  • 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!

  1. 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.
  2. Add the tomatoes, white beans, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the chicken broth, the chicken, and the Parmesan rind.
  4. 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.
  5. Simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve with Parmesan cheese shavings.
Sauteeing a chicken thigh in a skillet.
Shredding chicken thighs for soup.
Prepped chicken, beans, parmesan rind, spices, and veggies in crockpot.
Do not skip that Parmesan rind!! If you don’t have one, throw in a chunk of parmesan.

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!

Adding kale to a slow cooker.

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.) 

a metal spoon in a slow cooker of white bean, chicken, and kale soup.

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

What is the thickener in a white bean soup?

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. 

How to add richness to chicken soup?

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. 

What is the secret to making good soup?

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!

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Slow Cooker Chicken, White Bean, and Kale Soup with Parmesan Shavings

4.88 from 8 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 7 hours 10 minutes
Total: 7 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8
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.


  • 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!


*You can use chicken breasts if you like. Or, to make this even easier, omit the raw chicken and add about 2 cups of shredded rotisserie chicken.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 1503mg | Potassium: 1288mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 10348IU | Vitamin C: 91mg | Calcium: 311mg | Iron: 5mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 365
Keyword: chicken, crock pot, kale, parmesan, slow cooker, soup, white bean
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. Just came across your beef barley soup recipe today, and tried it. You are absolutely right – it was the BEST recipe I’ve ever tasted!  Thank you for sharing it!  My husband says thank you too!

  2. I made this white bean soup this weekend with left over rotisserie chicken and on the stove top instead of a crock pot , wow its a hit very good!
    I started by browning my onion while picking the bird clean and cutting up the carrots and kale . then added the water, bullion and all the other ingredients except the Kale which I put in at the last 20 min.
    I did not have a parm rind but i did have sargento 16 month aged parm shaved cheese to add to my bowl very tasty !
    I served with a baguette of crusty bread and its a meal in its self.

  3. I want to make this soup however, just curious about those parmesan rinds.. Is that something that you’d ask for in the deli section of your grocery store? I have a container & a small bag of the shredded parm. Not sure if that be the same as adding the find.. hmmm! 🤔

  4. I’ve made a variation of this soup for years – without the carrots and tomatoes. It’s great all year regardless if you’re ill or well. Next time I make it, I’ll add the other veggies. They have to be good.

    I’ve used dried beans and soak them in chicken broth to give them more flavor compared to a water soak. I’ve also used left over roast – pork or beef – instead of chicken. If I use the chicken alternatives, I use beef broth for the beans. Today, without seeing this recipe, I bought some canned beans to see if they would be as good. Must have been ESP. Too bad it didn’t work for the carrots and tomatoes.

    Every time I’ve shared this dish with non-family members, everyone wants the recipe. It’s a definite YUM!

    1. Thanks for all the tips Tim! Love the idea of making this with dried beans! They would soak up even more of the flavor that way.

  5. Oh, this looks so yummy and warm, especially for this cold weather. I love tender chicken with a lot veggie. Yum yum…

  6. yum! i just got some parm rinds last week. occasionally whole foods will have them, and i can get a box for like $3. the best part is there’s always still cheese left on them (i mean, the whole thing is cheese but you know what i mean) so i’ll grate off a bunch of cheese for whatever (last week i made 44 clove garlic soup and you grate parm into the mugs before you serve it) and then throw the rinds in the freezer. ANYWAY, this looks delicious and sausage sounds so good…maybe with some little elbow macaroni :)

    and your closet experiment reminds me of that episode of the big bang theory where sheldon starts giving penny a chocolate each time she adjusts her behavior to suit him better, haha! but hey, who doesn’t like a reward? ;)

    1. 3 bucks?? Good deal I should check that out at whole foods. Elbow macaroni would be an awesome addition to this!

      And seriously why am I the last person on the planet who hasn’t started big bang theory?

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