These wonderful white bean recipes for white bean soups, stews, salads and dips include some of our best recipes with white beans, from a creamy Mediterranean butter bean dip recipe and an Antalya-style Turkish white bean salad recipe to a warming Italian ribollita soup recipe for the Tuscan bean, kale and bread soup and classic French cassoulet recipe for a hearty stew of haricot beans, pork, sausages, and duck confit.
The white bean family includes beans such as haricot beans, navy beans, cannellini beans, and butter beans. For our delicious white bean recipes, I mostly use canned cannellini beans or butter beans, also known as Lima beans as they originated in Peru. I love their earthy taste and creamy, buttery texture. They also break down easily, making them easy to mash if you don’t have a blender.
Of course you can start with dried beans, such as dried haricot beans. You’ll need to soak the beans overnight before boiling the beans the next day. First, you’ll need to wash and drain the beans, then submerge the beans in cold water and soak them for anything from 8 hours up to 24 hours. The next day, drain the soaked beans, and discard that water (don’t use it!) before boiling the beans.
Alternatively, you can just boil the dried beans, but it’s essential to boil the beans for a minimum of 30 minutes at boiling point (100 °C/212 °F) to deactivate the toxic compound phytohaemagglutinin, which can cause poisoning and nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea – which is why cooking beans in a slow cooker is not safe.
You can then reduce the beans to a simmer and cook them until tender and even soft (but not mushy). The beans can be boiled in either water or stock, or you can add stock and seasoning after you’ve brought the beans to a boil, before reducing the heat.
Canned beans, which have been cooked obviously, are super safe – as well as convenient, less time-consuming to cook, and more affordable.
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White Bean Recipes for White Bean Soups, Salads, Stews and Dips
Butter Bean Dip Recipe for a Creamy Dip with Crispy Pita Chips and Crudités
Our easy butter bean dip recipe makes a creamy hummus-like Mediterranean dip flavoured with garlic, onion, cumin, and lemon and it’s one of our best white bean recipes. Finished with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of smoky paprika, it’s fantastic with crispy pita chips and crudités.
A classic Mediterranean style white bean dip more often than not calls for cannellini beans and sometimes navy beans or great northern beans, but I much prefer butter beans. I think they’re better tasting, are naturally creamy, and therefore result in a creamier dip.
I use canned butter beans in this recipe, but by all means, if you prefer, feel free to soak your dried butter beans overnight. A little Greek yoghurt gives this creamy white bean dip an even creamier consistency, while fresh lemon juice adds tang, and cumin brings subtle spice.
We adore our homemade dips. If you also prefer to take ten minutes to make a dip from scratch than buy a shop-bought dip, do browse our homemade dip recipes for an authentic hummus that a Lebanese friend taught Terence to make when we lived in Abu Dhabi, retro dips such as this French onion dip prepared from scratch and a smoked salmon dip made with cream cheese, sour cream, capers, and gherkins.
We also have an easy olive tapenade recipe based on the traditional French tapenade from southern France made with just four ingredients – black olives, capers, anchovies, and olive oil – and an easy grissini-style cheese straws recipe to make to go with it. Perfect for your charcuterie boards and cheese plates.
Antalya Style Turkish White Bean Salad Recipe with Jammy Soft Boiled Eggs
This Antalya style Turkish white bean salad recipe with jammy soft boiled eggs makes you my take on Antalya usulü piyaz – a Turkish white bean salad made the Antalya way – and it’s easily another of our best white bean recipes.
Very different to fasulye piyazi, the traditional Turkish bean salad you may have eaten at restaurants in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey, Antalya piyaz is unique to Antalya and the surrounding region, and it’s on the menu at almost every Antalya eatery.
Traditionally, Turkish cooks have used kuru fasulye or dried haricot beans for Turkish white bean salad recipes. But historically, a specific variety called Çandır beans has been used in Antalya style piyaz. Long grown around the village of Yarbaşçandır, in the Çandır region of Antalya province, production slowed during the pandemic.
You’d therefore be forgiven for using haricot beans, also known as navy beans, and you certainly wouldn’t be committing any crimes against Antalya style piyaz for using cannellini beans or butter beans – even canned butter beans, or canned cannellini beans, commonly used by Turkish cooks these days.
If you’re starting with dried haricot beans, you’ll need to soak the beans overnight before boiling the beans the next day. I blend the white beans until thick and creamy, and spread drained white beans I’ve kept aside on top, then add the tomato salad and boiled eggs.
Green Minestrone Soup Recipe for a Tasty Year-Round Vegetable Broth
This green minestrone soup recipe makes an easy, versatile, year-round soup that starts out as a light fresh spring soup the first day, but leave it overnight and it evolves into a warming, hearty autumn broth. It’s another of our best white bean recipes.
So what is a green minestrone soup anyway? Well, a traditional Italian minestrone soup is essentially a hearty vegetable soup with dried beans and pasta, typically macaroni. Thick and rich, it’s a quintessential autumn-winter soup.
A green minestrone soup by contrast is fresh and light, especially the first day when everything is just-cooked and remains firm. But leave it to simmer longer, so the vegetables soften and the soup thickens, and re-heat it the next day, and you have a hearty winter or autumn soup.
Consisting mostly of green vegetables – anything green you have to hand, but for me the must-include veggies are green cabbage, celery, green beans, and peas – if feels like a spring soup but is a fantastic year-round soup.
Now, what about the beans? Traditionally, Italians have long used dried beans, soaked overnight for their soups, especially minestrone, but I’ve used canned butter beans, which I love for their rich creamy taste for this. Do as you prefer.
Lastly, a good quality extra virgin olive oil (preferably) or a decent quality olive oil is essential, if possible, as you’ll really taste it in this soup – as is a sprinkle of grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.
Chunky Potato Soup Recipe with Cabbage, Smoky Pork Sausage, Butter Beans and Sour Cream
My chunky potato soup recipe makes one of my favourite white bean recipes, a hearty, creamy potato soup with sautéed cabbage, smoky pork sausage and butter beans that’s garnished with fresh fragrant dill and a dollop of sour cream.
It’s an Eastern European style soup, based on my Russian-Ukrainian baboushka’s recipe for a cabbage soup called shchi, although I leave out the dried spices, flavouring the broth with garlic, bay leaves and fresh herbs, and seasoning simply with salt and white pepper, making it very family-friendly.
My recipe calls for chicken stock and pork sausage, but for a vegetarian version you can use vegetable stock instead, or even water and bump up the seasoning and herbs. We always have homemade chicken stock in the fridge, which we make when we poach chicken breasts using this simple method explained in this chicken and potato soup recipe.
My Russian-Ukrainian grandmother used a kind of soft smoky pork kielbasa or Polish sausage in her soups, which were easy to get in local delis in Sydney, and added loads of flavour. We can’t get them here in Siem Reap, so I’ve used a British smoky pork sausage.
As for the beans, I use tinned butter beans once again. While this chunky potato soup recipe is easy to make and comes together in 40 minutes or so, you can certainly leave it to simmer longer and the potato will break down even more, creating an even denser soup.
This is a deliciously filling broth that’s perfect for an easy mid-week meal or lazy weekend when you’re in the mood for staying in and hugging a comforting bowl of soup.
Ribollita Soup Recipe for a Hearty Tuscan Style Bean, Kale and Bread Soup
This classic Italian ribollita soup recipe makes the Tuscan bean, kale and bread soup, invented to use up leftovers, including stale bread, and it’s another of our best white bean recipes.
‘Ribollita’ means ‘re-boiled’ in Italian and traditionally this hearty vegetarian broth was made with leftover soup, such as minestrone or white bean soup that was re-boiled with old bread.
As much as we adore Terence’s beautiful sourdough bread, we rarely get through a whole sourdough batard and it breaks our hearts to have to throw out a sourdough end. And sourdough is so good in these kinds of bread soups as it has so much flavour and a dense-ish texture so it doesn’t turn to mush.
I cook this in Terence’s Dutch oven, in which he bakes his sourdough. If you’ve not bought a Dutch oven yet, do it now. We use it for so many dishes – here are just some of our favourite Dutch oven recipes. A Le Creuset Dutch oven is perhaps the most-coveted but we have the more affordable Lodge Dutch oven.
Traditional recipes call for soaking dried beans overnight and by all means you can do that, but I’ve opted for canned beans. A lot of Italian ribollita recipes call for ‘white beans’. I use a mix of butter beans and cannellini beans, as I like the combination of textures. You’ll need to separate each can in half and mash one half of the beans.
I’ve spotted recipes that suggest you mash the beans in a blender or using an immersion blender. I simply separate the beans and use a fork to mash them. It’s quick and easy. To be honest, when I make this ribollita at home I actually mash the beans in the soup.
Classic Toulouse Cassoulet Recipe Made with Haricot Beans
This classic French cassoulet recipe from Toulouse makes a hearty stew of haricot beans, pork, sausages, and duck confit, one of countless versions of cassoulet. It’s another of our best white bean recipes.
Castelnaudary is the self-proclaimed capital of cassoulet, which is named after the cassole, the earthenware pot it is often cooked in. Some 65km north of Castelnaudary, Toulouse is also a centre for this homely, filling stew.
Haricots blancs (white beans, sourced from Castelnaudary) make up the base of the dish, and here there is no cheating with this at all. You must use dried beans soaked for 24hrs for this recipe, and you need to judge the dish at several stages along the way – it’s best to start this dish mid-morning to have it ready that night for dinner.
The beans need to be soaked for 24hrs and then cooked to achieve the right level of softness, just firm enough to get a little taste of fibre as you bite into the bean, not soft and mushy.
This classic Toulouse cassoulet is definitely a dish made for those with a huge appetite on a cold winter’s night or after a day skiing, hiking or chopping wood! And if you love a traditional stew, do check out our collection of best stew recipes for more hearty comforting stews.
Please do let us know in the Comments below if you make any of our white bean recipes as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.