Bean and Bacon Soup

In this recipe we are making the bean soup starting with dry beans that we soak overnight. If you don't have time to soak beans overnight, you can put the beans into a pot of water, bring the water to a boil, remove from heat, and let sit for hour, and then drain. Pre-soaking the beans will help them cook faster.

If you would rather work with canned beans, use 3 to 4 15-ounce cans of drained white beans and cook them in step 3 for only 15 minutes, not an hour.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Bean soaking time: 8 hours
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8


  • 1 pound dry Great Northern white beans, covered with a couple inches of water and soaked overnight
  • 5 ounces of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch wide pieces
  • 2 cups chopped onion (1 large onion)
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs of celery)
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (1 large carrot)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 ounce bacon (1 to 2 slices), cooked and crumbled for garnish (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


1 Drain the beans: Drain the beans that have been soaking in water. (If you haven't already soaked the beans, and you don't have time to do so overnight, you can put them in a large pot of water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let sit for an hour, then drain.)

2 Cook the bacon and vegetables: Put the bacon into a large (5 to 6 quart) thick-bottomed Dutch oven on medium high heat. Let the bacon cook for a minute or two to start rendering out some of its fat, then add the chopped onion, celery, and carrots.

Lower the heat to low, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until vegetables are completely cooked through and softened. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

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3 Add beans, stock, seasonings, simmer: Add the drained beans to the pot. Add the stock, the bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper.

Increase heat to high to bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour or until the beans are very soft.

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4 Add tomato paste and paprika: Stir in the tomato paste and the paprika. Cook for 5 more minutes.

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5 Purée half the soup: Remove the bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, purée most of the soup. You don't want the soup to be perfectly smooth, but you want to purée enough of it so that the beans create a creamy base.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with crumbled cooked bacon and chopped parsley to serve.

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  • Rebekah

    Made this in the Instant Pot and it was wonderful!! Used the sauté function for the veggies. Then added DRY navy beans, spices and the stock. Cooked on manual for 30 minutes with a 20 minute natural release. Then added tomato paste and paprika. Mashed it with a potato masher and it was just delicious!


  • Louann

    Sooo good!! Made a couple of changes…added a ham bone, a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, smoked paprika and a few splashes of red wine vinegar at the end.


  • James Dillon

    Easy and delicious! Only change I made was adding more carrots and celery….. I like lots of vegetables.


  • Megan

    I made this 100% vegan, simple swaps with no chicken chicken soup base (vegan), and 2 packs of tempeh. I used a little bit of smoked paprika and mesquite liquid smoke… great recipe, loved making it all vegan, it really is delicious!!!!


  • donna

    It was wonderful. My son even got seconds. He doesn’t always like soups.


  • Quentin

    Recipe is awesome, added a roux based cheese sauce to give it a little change of profile


    Couldn’t I just puree half of the beans in my blender after soaking them overnight and before adding them to the rest of ingredients ?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Jason, you mean purée some of the beans before you cook them? Perhaps you could do that in a food processor. The beans will still be rather hard even though they’ve soaked. They really need to be cooked to soften.

  • Julie

    Absolutely perfect!

  • Joanna

    Holy cow. So good! I added spinach in and it was delicious.


  • KaSondra

    I added mushrooms in with the onions and added small chunks of ham after I pureed it and it was DELICIOUS! I’ll be making again!!!


  • Vickie

    Oh my! I can’t stop eating it! I will be making this soup often. The only thing I changed is I used mayocoba beans and I added an extra tablespoon of tomato paste. Just delicious!!!


  • Bob

    Excellent recipe that is very easy to make.

  • Stacy

    Very delicious! Thank you!!

  • Jennifer

    Delicious! I’m eating it right now. I used smoked paprika and reserved the crispy bacon to stir into each serving immediately before eating (because boiled bacon is just not for me). Your recipe is great and it has just become one of my favorites. Thank you.


  • Terri

    Made exactly as written. Absolutely delicious. Also made your cheese puffs, which made nice little dunking dumplings. Thanks for being my go-to site for repeatedly delicious recipes.

  • Gillian

    This is exactly how I make my soup and boy is it delicious. I do a few changes and that would be to add some fresh parsley and to swap out the tomato paste for finely chopped butternut squash and I use a ham bone and ham instead of bacon. Excellent soup.

  • robin cron-welham

    I’m going to make this tonight, however I don’t know what type of paprika to use, Smokey, sweet, spicy, regular?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Robin, we usually just use regular paprika, which is sweet paprika. If you want to add a smoky flavor to the soup, you could use smoked paprika. If you wanted the soup to have a spicy kick, you could use spicy paprika.

  • Susan

    Everytime I try to cook with bacon, no matter how long I cook it in a soup or stew, the bacon just stays chewy and inedible, unlike pancetta, which becomes soft and tender. What am I doing wrong? Is there a particular kind of bacon that I should use?

  • Laurel

    First rain of the season today in San Francisco and I just found a bag of white beans in my pantry then googled “delicious white beans recipe”. The search ends here. I don’t have an immersion blender but I think I need to get one.

    • chas hanson

      me either , I just took a potato masher to the whole batch until I was happy ..

  • Mark Leonard

    Hi Elise, plan on making this over the weekend since it looks like we’ll finally have soup weather in Sacramento! Noticed a small oversight in the instructions which might trip up new cooks, shouldn’t the bay leaves be removed before you puree the soup?

    • Elise Bauer

      Thanks for catching that Mark! I just put in the instruction to remove the bay leaves.

  • Emily

    Absolutely delicious. Your recipes never fail!

  • Debbie

    Made this last weekend. Followed the recipe without any changes and it was delicious! Thanks Elise!


  • Ann Norman

    Thank you for this recipe. It is good, yet I think I liked the flavor better without the tomato paste and paprika. I tasted the soup prior to stirring in the tomato paste and paprika and liked it. I think at that point it was a familiar flavor. Just a bit different for us with the tomato paste. However, we have a lot of leftovers and may get used to it by the time we finish eating them. This is do much easier than using a ham bone to make the soup! I will definitely make this again.

  • pam

    i just made it; it’s so simply & hearty :-)

  • Hugh Lydiard

    I made this today and it was, unfortunately, so salty that I had to toss the whole thing. I can only think that the saltiness was a combination of the salt in the bacon, the broth (store-bought, regular and not low salt or unsalted) and the amount of kosher salt, plus it cooked for about 10 minutes of the one hour cooking time without a lid partially covering it, which might have concentrated the salt, that did me in. Plus, I used heaping tablespoons of tomato paste instead of level ones. A friend of mine later told me that if you put a peeled, clean potato in it, the potato can absorb the salt and it can save the soup. No word on how long to cook it with the potato in their, but it sounds like an option when in distress. I want to try it again, though, just need to pay more attention to the salt level. I like saltiness, but this batch was completely inedible.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Hugh, I’m so sorry about that! Yes, you always have to taste for salt and adjust for your taste. If you make something too salty for your taste, adding a potato can help, as can just adding more beans (assuming the beans are not salted). If want try using a potato, I recommend peeling it and chopping it into chunks and adding it to the soup. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes or so. The more potatoes you add, the less salty the soup will be.

  • Anne MacMullen

    Some years ago when visiting Italy I experienced the best ever bean soup and I’ve been searching for a delicious recipe ever since. Well, your recipe for this soup ends that search. It is very nutritious and delicious. I will be making this soup many times the future. Thanks for sharing.

  • Russ

    I made this last night but instead of chicken broth I used some smoked turkey broth from a turkey I smoked a couple of months ago. All I can say is OOOOO MY !!!!


  • Rosemary Farish

    I too love soups and find creating them on a winters day quite therapeutic! (Also great way to use up leftovers) I was interested in this recipe because the little island I come from has a traditional local recipe called “bean jar” It was originally the fishermen and farmers breakfast when they came in from their early morning start. Cooked all night in a low oven it is still a favourite today. Your soup sounds great and like a modern quicker version of a tasty dish! Nothing will replace a slowly cooked Bean Jar but I will certainly give this a go! Thank you.

  • Tana

    I made this tonight, and it has delicious flavor. I used 4 cans of bean. I was disappointed in the consistency after blending, did use immersion blender. Seemed like the ratio of chicken stock to beans was off that there was too much chicken stock. Would have liked it thicker once blended and still have beans too.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Tana, We didn’t have an issue with the consistency but maybe that’s because we started with dry beans the night before? Do you think if someone uses canned beans instead of dry that we should reduce the amount of chicken stock or should we add more beans?

      • Tana

        Hi Elise, I think that when I try it again that I will either reduce the chicken stock to 4 cups and still use 4 cans of beans or try the recipe with dry beans the night before. I did love the flavor and used applewood smoked bacon so I am definitely going to give this another try.

        • M Spila

          Thanks for the discussion on canned beans, which improved my outcome. I made this with four cans of white beans and four cups of chicken stock and the consistency was great after a whirl with the immersion blender. Also, based on another comment, I used one teaspoon of Kosher salt and found it sufficiently salty for my taste.

  • David Leite

    That is similar to Momma Leite bean soup. It looks fantastic!

  • Ann

    I make this nearly exactly, but I use hot Italian sausage instead of bacon. I would be the one person in the universe who doesn’t really care for bacon. I’ve got some chorizo in the freezer and I was going to try using that the next time. Only question now is toasted ciabatta or cornbread?

    • Chris

      Hands down, cornbread slathered in butter!