Whoever discovered beans gets a big fat medal of appreciation from yours truly. They’re just incredible. Incredible and cheap. And so is this Slow Cooker White Bean Soup. This soup is thick, warm, comforting, and flavorful… and cost me LESS THAN FIVE DOLLARS FOR THE WHOLE POT. That, my friend, is the magic of beans.
Originally posted 9-9-2013, updated 3-19-2020.
What Kind of White Beans Should I Use?
I suggest using navy beans first, because they are creamy and break down easily when cooked, which will give you this nice thick texture in the finished soup. If navy beans are not available, my second choice would be great northern beans. DO NOT use cannellini beans, which are part of the kidney bean family, and require a heavy boil to break down a natural substance called Phytohaemagglutinin, which is a gastrointestinal toxin. The slow cooker does not get the soup hot enough for long enough to break down the toxins in those beans.
Do I Need to Soak the Beans?
Nope! This recipe does not require pre-soaking the beans. Some people claim that soaking beans then discarding the soaking water can reduce flatulence, but I, personally, find no difference. If you prefer to pre-soak your beans, you will need to add less water to this recipe and will probably need less cooking time. I have not tested that method, so I do not have a specific amount of water or cooking time to suggest.
Can I Use Broth in Place of Water?
This awesome Slow Cooker White Bean Soup uses a medley of spices, herbs, and vegetables to make its own flavorful broth right in the slow cooker – no Better Than Bouillon soup base this time around, folks. Of course you always have the option to use broth in place of water if you wish, just be aware that you probably won’t need to add salt at the end of the recipe, as directed below.
Can I Add Meat?
Sure, if you prefer meat in your soup I would suggest adding a ham hock or a smoked turkey leg to the slow cooker with your soup as it cooks. They will provide a wonderfully smoky flavor and will reduce the amount of salt you’ll need to add at the end.
Is This Soup Freezer Friendly?
Yes! This Slow Cooker White Bean Soup freezer beautifully. Make sure to divide it into single portions and chill it in the refrigerator first, then transfer to the freezer once cold. I like to freeze my soups in reusable Ziploc containers, but freezer bags also work great. To reheat either use the defrost function on the microwave, or transfer to a soup pot and reheat over low, stirring often, until heated through.
Slow Cooker White Bean Soup
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
- 1 yellow onion ($0.11)
- 4 carrots (about 1/2 lb.) ($0.30)
- 4 ribs celery ($0.46)
- 1 lb. dry navy beans* ($1.25)
- 1 bay leaf ($0.30)
- 1 tsp dried rosemary ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
- Freshly cracked black pepper (15-20 cranks of a pepper mill) ($0.05)
- 6 cups water ($0.00)
- 2 tsp salt, or to taste ($0.05)
- Mince the garlic, dice the onion, slice the celery, and peel and slice the carrots. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, and carrots to a large (5qt or larger) slow cooker.
- Give the beans a quick rinse in a colander and then add them to the slow cooker, along with the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and some freshly cracked pepper.
- 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 8-9 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.
- After 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high, stir the soup and begin to mash the beans against the side of the slow cooker to thicken the soup. Once the soup is thickened to your liking, start adding salt to taste. Begin with 1/2 tsp and add more until the soup tastes flavorful to you. I used about 2 tsp total.
- Serve the soup hot with crackers or crusty bread for dipping.
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!
How to Make Crockpot White Bean Soup – Step by Step Photos
Dice one yellow onion, four ribs of celery, and peel and slice 1/2 lb. carrots (about 4 carrots). Mince 4 cloves of garlic. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and 2 Tbsp olive oil to a slow cooker (5 qt. or larger).
You’ll need one pound of dry navy beans or great northern beans. Again, DO NOT use cannellini beans, which are part of the kidney bean family, and require a heavy boil to break down a natural substance called Phytohaemagglutinin, which is a gastrointestinal toxin. The slow cooker does not get the soup hot enough for long enough to break down the toxins in those beans.
Briefly rinse the beans in a colander, then add them to the slow cooker along with 1 bay leaf, 1 tsp dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, some freshly cracked pepper, and six cups of water.
Briefly stir the contents of the slow cooker to make sure all the flavors are distributed, then place a lid on top and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours.
After cooking on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 hours it will look a little something like this. All the vegetables will have floated up to the top and the beans will have absorbed most of the water. Test a bean to make sure they are very soft. If they’re not yet soft, cook for one hour more (they should definitely be soft by this point, unless your beans are very old. Old beans sometimes do not soften no matter how long they are cooked).
Stir the soup and smash the beans against the side of the pot, which will thicken the soup (or you can use an immersion blender). The soup at this point does not contain ANY salt, so now it’s time to add salt so you can really taste all the different flavors. Begin adding salt, starting with 1/2 tsp and adding more until the soup is flavorful. I added 2 tsp total.
Serve hot with some crusty bread for dipping!