Monday, October 29, 2012

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup Recipe with Shaved Parmesan (Can Freeze)

This Slow Cooker Vegetarian Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Shaved Parmesan is one of my favorite slow cooker soups; don't miss the shaved Parmesan!

Slow Cooker Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Parmesan

As much as I whine about the cold weather, when you look at the Soup, Stew, and Chili section of my recipe archives you can tell I love cold-weather dishes, especially soup.  Some of my favorite soups are the ones where I start with an idea and add things until it tastes good, but even when I have a recipe to start with like I did this time, I tend to improvise with most of the soups I make.

This Slow Cooker Vegetarian Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Shaved Parmesan can cook all day while you're at work and was adapted from one I saw in The Italian Slow Cooker, a book that's loaded with good ideas.  I increased the amount of stock (and might use even more next time), added some dried Italian herbs, and served the soup with shaved Parmesan Cheese instead of croutons, for a Phase One soup that was warm and filling, and loaded with flavor.

I used chicken stock because that's what I had in the freezer, but if you used vegetable stock and skipped the Parmesan, this would be a tasty vegan slow cooker soup.  If you're not making a vegan version, this is the perfect soup to add some Parmesan rinds and let them melt into the soup while it cooks all day.  If it's soup weather where you are, this soup would make a perfect Meatless Monday dinner!

(You can see more vegetarian ideas by checking the Recipes-by-Photo Index Page for Meatless Monday or Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index. For Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers check Meatless Monday at BlogHer, or visit my Meatless Monday Pinterest board.)

I know some of you hate to have to saute things for the slow cooker, but I promise that sauteeing the onions and garlic with the Italian Seasoning for a few minutes really does increase the flavor.  (If you skip that step, I promise I won't take it personally!)

I used the bowl attachment of my immersion blender to coarsely puree the 2 cans of Cannellini beans, but after I wondered why I didn't just puree them in the slow cooker with the immersion blender.  You can also use a blender or food processor.

Finely chop 8 oz. kale leaves and give them a wash in the salad spinner if you're using garden kale.

I used fresh sage leaves from my garden, but dried sage would also work.

Put the sauteed onion mixture, pureed beans, 1 can tomatoes with juice, stock or broth, chopped kale, and sage leaves into the slow cooker (with Parmesan rinds if using) and cook about 4 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. 

The soup that won't win any beauty contests, but it was delicious!  (Next time I might add one more cup of stock for a slightly thinner soup.)

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Cannellini Bean and Kale Soup with Shaved Parmesan
(Makes 6-8 servings; recipe adapted from The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone.)

I used my Crock-Pot 5-Quart Smart-Pot for this recipe.

2 T olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped small
2 T minced garlic (or less if you're not a garlic fan)
2 tsp. dried Italian Seasoning (contains oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary)
2 cans (15 oz. can) Cannellini beans and juice (or use 4 cups cooked cannellini beans and a little water)
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes with juice
8 oz. finely chopped kale, washed if needed (about 8 cups finely chopped kale)
4-5 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used 4 cups, but next time I would probably use 5)
4 fresh sage leaves, or 1/2 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1-2 pieces of Parmesan rind to add flavor (optional)
freshly shaved Parmesan, to garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan; add the onions and cook 4-5 minutes or until they are just starting to brown.  Add the garlic and Italian Seasoning and saute 1-2 minutes more, being careful not to let the garlic brown.  Spray the slow cooker with non-stick spray; then put onions and garlic into the slow cooker. 

While the onions are cooking use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the cannellini beans and juice, keeping them a little chunky if you prefer.  (If you're using freshly-cooked beans I would add about 1/4 cup water.)  Finely chop the kale (cutting away thick center ribs if you have them) and wash kale in the salad spinner if you're using garden kale.  

Put the pureed beans, chopped kale, chicken or vegetable stock, canned tomatoes and juice, and sage leaves (or dried sage) into the slow cooker with the onion mixture.  (Add one or two pieces of Parmesan rind if desired for extra flavor.)  Cook 4 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.  Serve the soup hot, with strips of Parmesan shaved over if desired.

This soup will keep for at least a week in the fridge, and it freezes well.

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South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Even though they are a low-glycemic ingredient, dried beans are a limited food for Phase One of the South Beach Diet, but in a soup like this with lots of other ingredients you can have a normal serving, even for Phase One.  

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Meatless Ideas with Kale:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Kale from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Vegetarian Lasagna with Kale and Mushroom-Tomato Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen

Spaghetti with Kale and Tomato Sauce from Bell'Alimento

Vegetarian Whole Wheat Pasta with Fried Kale, Tomato Sauce, and Goat Cheese from Kalyn's Kitchen 

Roast Pumpkin and Kale Lasagna from Mountain Mama Cooks

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. I feel the same way about the cold! But you makes cuddling up to a warm soup all the better! This looks so hearty and delicious!

  2. A great winter soup. Love the substitute of croutons for parm.

  3. I know exactly what you mean about the cold weather. When I lived in Canada I used to complain about how cold it got. But now that I'm in Florida, I sure do miss the excuse of cold weather to make all those soups and stews. This one sounds especially wonderful. I love kale and parmesan together.

  4. I love to experiment the same way and keep adding until I wind up with something delicious. This soup sounds awesome!

  5. I do like sauteeing my base vegetables before putting them in the crockpot - I think it definitely is worth it for extra depth in crockpot recipes. I also love using Parmesan rinds in soups - first of all, because I don't like throwing food out, and second of all, because it adds so much flavor.

  6. Thanks everyone for the nice feedback about this. Really enjoyed the flavors!

  7. After smelling this in your kitchen I made a version this weekend! I added some sweet Italian sausage so mine was less healthy but delicious never the less! I'll try this one next time.... oh and I'll have to drop by for more kale ;)

  8. Becky, I would love it with Italian Sausage too. And please come and get kale!

  9. Yum! I'm always looking for ways to use my slow cooker and ways to cook kale - sounds like a winner!

  10. Yum! This is exactly what I'm craving since I have a kidney stone right now and don't feel Lille spending 30 minutes at the stove. I just asked for a slow cooker for Christmas :)

  11. I'll take Parmesan over croutons any day. ANY DAY!

    I think soup really is the silver lining to all this cold weather. This recipe looks superb. :)

  12. Um, I know this is silly, but I loooove shaved parm. I don't know if it's the flakiness or what, but I swear it's the best way to enjoy parm!

  13. I have a confession to make: I had never eaten kale before I saw it on your blog. You gave me the courage back then to try that weird looking tough green stuff in the produce department. You still inspire me today - this looks like a winner!

  14. Thanks everyone for the good thoughts about this.

    Elizabeth; take care of yourself! (And I hope you get a slow cooker.)

    Donna, love it that I inspired you to try kale!

  15. We are definitely channeling each other, because I just made a kale and cannellini bean stew to have on hand during the hurricane! I didn't think to add sage leaves to mine, and I like that idea.

  16. This recipe (like all of yours!) is excellent! I make a pot full on the weekend and eat on it all week at work! I teach school so time to fix lunch is limited and this is a wonderful solution, I have shared this, and your site with several of my co-workers! Thanks!

  17. Thanks Andrea, and I am so glad you're enjoying the recipes!

  18. I love your blog and recipes. I'm always excited each day to see what's new. I would like to try this recipe but I'm not a fan of tomatoes. Can I leave them out? Should I substitute something else? Thanks for all your wonderful recipes!!

  19. Thanks Nicola. I'm not completely sure how this would work without tomatoes since I haven't tried it, but I think you could make it work. You would need to add more liquid, and maybe substitute another types of vegetable like green bell pepper or red bell pepper, if that sounds good to you.

  20. SugarStuff, so glad you liked it. I think mushrooms would be a nice addition!

  21. I made the soup and included the tomatoes. The petite dice was key for me. I absolutely loved this soup!!! So delicious. I can't wait to make it again!!

  22. Kalyn, love your site! I'm a (new) vegetarian and love your recipes, the design or your blog, etc. thanks!

  23. I was looking for a warming soup when we had a sudden drop in temperature. I found this and had
    all the ingredients on hand. It was fantastic. I appreciate the tip on freezing it. I use your recipes
    much more often than I post. I love your blog.

  24. Dr. D, thanks for that nice feedback! So glad you are enjoying the blog.

  25. I found this website through a buzzfeed post and now I'm a huge fan! I just used this recipe to make a very similar variation and we loved in my house!! I'm so pleased with how easy yet healthy and satisfying this soup was. I will definitely be making this again real soon.

  26. Elizabeth, so glad you are enjoying the site!


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