Slow Cooker White Bean Soup

$4.78 recipe / $0.80 serving

Whoever discovered beans gets a big fat medal of appreciation from yours truly. They’re just incredible. Incredible and cheap.

This soup is thick, warm, comforting, and flavorful… and was LESS THAN FIVE DOLLARS FOR THE WHOLE POT. That’s the magic of beans.

This awesome soup is also vegan. It uses fresh vegetables to make its own flavorful broth – no Better Than Bouillon soup base this time around, folks. It’s all au naturale! The best part? I chopped the veggies the night before and then just threw everything into the slow cooker before I left for work today. When I walked through the door this afternoon my apartment smelled absolutely divine. A few quick stirs, a little salt to taste, and I had an incredible, thick, delicious soup all ready to go. I dipped in a chunk of crusty French bread and life was good.

Don’t really care about the vegan part? Try adding a smoked ham hock or turkey leg to the slow cooker with the rest of the soup ingredients for an ultra smokey, rich soup. Or, save your bacon grease from breakfast and add a few tablespoons in place of the olive oil. You won’t regret it.

This makes a huge pot, so I highly suggest you freeze some single servings for later.

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup

Slow Cooker White Bean Soup

4.5 from 40 reviews
Slow Cooker White Bean Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $4.78
Cost Per Serving: $0.80
Serves: 6-8 (makes 9 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 1 medium yellow onion $0.73
  • ½ lb. carrots $0.55
  • 4 stalks (1/2 sleeve) celery $0.80
  • 1 lb. dry navy beans $1.69
  • 1 whole bay leaf $0.15
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary $0.10
  • ½ tsp dried thyme $0.05
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • Freshly cracked pepper (15-20 cranks of a mill) $0.05
  • 1½ tsp (or more to taste) salt $0.05
  1. Mince the garlic, dice the onion, slice the celery, and slice the carrots into thin rounds. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, and carrots to a large (5qt or larger) slow cooker.
  2. Sort through the beans and remove any debris or stones. Give them a quick rinse and then add them to the slow cooker, along with the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and some freshly cracked pepper.
  3. Add SIX CUPS of water to the slow cooker and stir to combine the ingredients. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.
  4. After 8 hours, stir the soup and mash the beans slightly. Starting with just a ½ tsp, add salt to your liking. I used about 2 tsp total, but keep tasting and adding more, ½ tsp at a time, until it reaches the level that you prefer.


Slow Cooker White Bean Soup

Step by Step Photos

IngredientsYou pretty much just throw everything in the slow cooker. Okay, so maybe there’s a LITTLE prep involved… just mince the garlic, dice the onion, and slice the celery and carrots. Sort through and rinse the beans real quick, too. Then, just add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, beans, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, smoked paprika, and some freshly cracked pepper to the the slow cooker. (I did not pre-soak the beans)

Add WaterNext, add SIX CUPS of water and stir everything together. Put the lid on top and set the slow cooker to LOW.

Cooked SoupCome back 8 hours later and you’ll have this. Now, you may think, “OMG, I didn’t add enough water!” That’s what I thought anyway… until I stirred it.

Stir SoupStir the soup and you’ll notice that there is, in fact, enough water. It’s just that everything was floating on top. Now, keep stirring and mashing some of the beans up against the side of the pot so that the soup will thicken…

Thickened SoupAnd finally it becomes a thick, delicious soup. Okay, one last thing – you HAVE to add some salt. Salt really makes the flavors pop. You want to wait until the end to add salt because adding it early can make the beans tough and you generally need less salt if it’s added at the end as opposed to the beginning. So, start with 1/2 tsp and just keep tasting and adding more as needed. I liked it right around 2 teaspoons, but 1 1/2 tsp was pretty good, too.

Slow Cooker White Bean SoupSo thick and delicious… perfect for crusty bread!

Slow Cooker White Bean SoupBeans are good food.

Extra VeggiesOh one more thing… Many of my soup recipes call for 1/2 pound of carrots and a half bunch/sleeve of celery. I never let the other half of each go to waste. Go ahead and cut them up, put them in freezer bags, and save them for your next batch of soup. That way the next time you get to skip all of the chopping! (This photo is from an old recipe, BTW. That’s why it says 2011 :P )


  1. This has become one of my favorite recipes. It’s great because my toddler child will eat it, my vegetarian husband loves it, and my omnivore self also loves it. I’ve started to give people small jars of it when I make it and have been converting others to this. I love how easy it is, and the minimal dishes involved. I cook it on low for 8 hours.

  2. I made this today and it was absolutely amazing! Mine actually cooked to perfection, on low, for about 6 1/2 hours. So good with a piece of garlic bread for dunking :-)

  3. Genevieve says:

    I made this yesterday and had to give it an extra 3.5 hours for the beans to soften. I even soaked the beans the night before, so it was a bit perplexing, especially since I err on the side of shorter cooking times because my crockpot tends to cook on the high side (even at its lowest). I also halved the thyme and rosemary and still found it a bit too thyme-y…a tasty end result, regardless!

    • I’ve heard that the mineral content of your water can affect how/if the beans will soften. If you are having trouble, adding a little baking soda to the cooking water might help (read this, question #6).

  4. Emily M. says:

    I have learned by sad experience that I must always presoak my beans– my water is too hard. Here’s my question: if I presoak the beans, should I add less water , or still the 6 cups? Thanks!

  5. Eric says:

    Making a batch of the again, I this must be my 8 or 9th time ,, so easy to make & freeze. The only real change I made is adding 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes & this batch I added a ham bone because I had one. Everyone enjoys this soup.

  6. Susan says:

    Made this today. It’s good, very filling, but if I make it again I will omit the rosemary and thyme. And maybe a little more liquid. I added a bit of sour cream and some bacon bits as garnish. Definitely a simple recipe.

  7. Brenna says:

    Hi I wanted to know if I use canned beans do I cut the time in half from 8 to 4 hours? Also do you think I could substitute chick peas?

    • I don’t think chickpeas would work in this because they don’t get super creamy like white beans do. Yes, you can use canned beans, but you’ll need to reduce the liquid considerably. Four hours should be plenty for canned beans, too.

  8. Pamela says:

    Made this over the weekend. It was delicious and the beans were perfectly cooked. Been eating it all week for lunch.

  9. Angie says:

    Add a pinch of baking soda to soften up the beans. :)

  10. Do you think it would work without the olive oil?

    • Yes, but having some type of fat in there really helps give the soup body and flavor balance. You can use a different type of oil if you want.

  11. Joanne says:

    I made this today…it was very good…but too much garlic. I will put much less next time.

  12. Denise DL says:

    Reading through the comments I see a lot of questions about mineral content in water; I came across this website and thought it might help. :)

  13. Michele says:

    Would liquid smoke be a good alternative to the ham hock? I’m not very experienced with using it. Has anyone tried this?

    • I’m not experienced with using liquid smoke, either, but from what I’ve heard it is a good substitute. I don’t think you need a lot, just a few drops and I’d add it at the end to taste.

      • I much prefer McCormick’s smoked pepper to liquid smoke. I use about 1/8 teaspoon for an entire crock pot.

  14. Marg says:

    I’ve cooked with dry beans before, soaked overnight, rinced, boiled for 2 hours, then added to a recipe, and they still come out semi-firm. I love this recipe but would probably use canned, and not add any salt.

    What have others’ experience with just popping the dry beans in the crock pot for 8 hours with this recipe? I’d love to hear. :)

    • I’ve made this recipe several times as written – with the dry beans – and it has always turned out wonderfully with a soft, cooked texture. This is a recipe I return to again and again.

  15. Cathy says:

    Your recipes are fab and I have been inspired to try loads of them, and would urge others to try them too – I haven’t had a disaster yet! Thanks for doing all the hard work for us.
    When you froze the left over carrots and celery, did you blanch them first? Being lazy, I like the idea of being able to just slice and freeze!

    • Nope, I don’t bother to blanch them, but you do want to make sure to use them up within a few months. They get kind of dried out and shriveled after that.

  16. Man, I wish food was that cheap where I’m from. Beans are cheap and plentiful in South Korea, so I’ve been looking for soup recipes, but celery is like four bucks a bunch. I’ll have to try and find a local substitute. Looks delicious, though!

  17. spaceranger says:

    Thank you for this recipe! I made this yesterday and the whole family (including two toddlers) loves it! It is so easy, and nutritious and delicious. I mostly followed your recipe, but added in a crumbled up vegan “sausage” that needed to be used, and I went light on the thyme (I like thyme–but only in *very* small quantities). I also added the salt at the beginning–the bean texture was perfect–not tough at all. (I’ve heard actually that is a common misconception that salt will prevent beans from cooking/softening properly–acidic stuff [like tomatoes] can cause those kinds of problems, but apparently salt does not). Oh–and it cooked for 10 hours because my crock pot does not have a timer and that’s how long I’m gone when I work. :) It was LOVELY to come home to delicious smelling, ready to eat, cooked food!

  18. Teresia says:

    What kind of fresh pepper do I use? (I have never cooked with pepper,so I’m a newbie)
    Is mini pepper to mild?

    Thank you!

    • That’s freshly cracked pepper, not an actual fresh pepper. :) Sorry for the confusion. It just means that you should use a pepper mill to grind the pepper instead of using a container of pre-ground pepper. It makes a huge difference in the flavor. Once I bought my first pepper mill, I’ve never looked back!

  19. Jenna says:

    I did an opps! I put the salt in the mixture before I started cooking it :S. I now know that salt water can slow the cooking of the beans and make them tough. Opps. So, I will eat it no matter the outcome but I really hope it turns out ok. If it makes 9 cups, that’s a lot of tough bean soup! lol

    • Alae says:

      Jenna, I just made this made the same salt mistake! (Fail on the reading skills).

      How did yours come out?

      Granted, mine may taste even worse. I accidentally added in 2 tablespoons of garlic rather than 2 teaspoons. Ugh. This is why I don’t cook.

      • Hillary says:

        I added salt first too!
        Is it going to ruin everything?! I’m scared now.

        • I’ve actually heard recently that the salt thing is a myth and it has more to do with the acidity of your water or added liquids… So here’s to hoping it will turn out fine!

  20. This is cooking in my slow cooker right now! I added leeks. Thinking of adding spinach near the end.

    • Sarah says:

      So I made this for dinner tonight and my beans are still hard so going to keep an eye on it this evening and see if they soften up. It has been in the crock pot for 9 hours.

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