Garlicky White Beans, Two Ways: Dip & Creamy Soup

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I have a great—and relatively newfound—love for white beans. (See? I do eat more than meat.)

Here are two of my favorite ways to prepare them. The first recipe is for a thick dip that’s fragrant with garlic and lemon. The second is a creamy, spinach-laden soup that uses the dip as a base.

A simple, convertible recipe for white beans

It’s a dip! No wait…shazam! It’s a soup!

(Pardon the ultra-corny, culinary sleight of hand, but it really is almost that easy.)

This white bean dip is fabulous served with crackers or tortilla chips—or as the centerpiece of a fresh, crunchy crudite platter. It’s also a nice, egg-less replacement for mayo on a toasted BLT sandwich.

You can also use it as the base for a hearty soup. This soup is creamy and flecked with pieces of fresh baby spinach, crispy bacon, rosemary, and black pepper. The lemon in the dip gives it a really nice, bright tang.

Serve it for lunch or supper on a cold winter day when you’d rather spend more time snuggling on the sofa than slaving in the kitchen.

Once you make the dip, the rest of the soup comes together in a snap. And since the main ingredients are already pureed, there’s no messy and dangerous pot-to-blender transfer of scalding hot soup.

Garlicky White Beans, Two Ways: A note on beans and salt

You’ll need about 3 1/2 cups of beans for this recipe. I used two 15.5 oz. cans of Goya Small White Beans.

Keep a close eye on any salt you add to either of these recipes. Between the beans, bacon, and chicken stock, you’ll already have a fair amount.

The Goya beans I use are already pretty salty, so I didn’t add any additional salt to the recipe. If you use a different brand, or start with dried beans, you might want to toss a little in.

Lemon-Garlic White Bean Dip

3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbls. fresh rosemary
3 1/2 cups small white beans, cooked and drained
1 cup good olive oil
juice from 1 medium lemon
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper

Creamy Spinach & White Bean Soup

1 recipe white bean dip (see above)
4 rashers of bacon
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 1/2 cups baby spinach, loosely packed

Garlicky White Beans, Two Ways, Part 1: Lemon-Garlic White Bean Dip

If you’re using canned beans, rinse and drain them. Set them aside.

I rinse my beans, then leave them in the sink in the colander to drain for a few minutes.

While the beans drain, put the garlic and rosemary in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mince the garlic and bruise the rosemary. (I like slightly larger pieces of rosemary. If you don’t, mince yours up a bit before you toss it in.)

Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a spatula. Add the drained white beans.

Pulse a few times to begin to mash up the beans.

They should look about like this:

Scrape the sides of the bowl down. Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, with the food processor running on low speed.

When all the oil is incorporated, squeeze in the lemon (remove any seeds). Add a little black pepper to taste. Process on low speed until well combined.

Your finished puree should look about like this:

Taste it and correct the seasoning, adding kosher salt and more black pepper to taste.

If you’re serving as a dip, turn the puree out into a bowl. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, serve, and enjoy!

If you’re using it as a soup base, read on!

Garlicky White Beans, Two Ways, Part 2: Creamy White Bean Soup

Dice up the bacon slices. Add the bacon to a large soup pot on the stove. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until brown and crisp.

Your goal is to crisp up each piece, so you wind up with little bacon chips.

When the bacon is cooked, turn the heat completely off so the fat doesn’t burn. Fish the bacon bits out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on a few paper towels.

Drain off as much of the bacon fat as you like. (How much you leave in is up to you. You’ll have plenty of flavor from even a teaspoon. If you’re concerned about fat content, remember there’s a fair amount of olive oil in the dip.)

Turn the heat up to medium-high. Pour in one cup of the chicken stock. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze all those tasty, brown bits. Bring the stock up to a simmer.

While the stock is coming to a simmer, chop up the baby spinach.

When the stock has started to bubble, add the white bean dip to the pot.

Whisk briskly to incorporate the white bean puree into the stock.

It will be really thick and look about like this:

At this point, it will coat a spoon well. (Mmm, flecks of rosemary, black pepper, and bacon-y goodness.)

Pour in the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock.

Whisk to combine. Bring it up to a simmer over medium-high heat. Toss in the spinach and stir to combine.

Let the soup simmer uncovered for another 5 or 10 minutes. Taste and add salt or pepper to taste.

Ladle out into bowls or mugs. Garnish with bits of crispy bacon. Enjoy!


Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse�/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. It's funny to think of how many times, I've similarly made chickpea soup, and hummus...but as completely separate entities unto themselves. Your idea is so wonderfully easy, and tasty, and deeelicious! Thank you!!!
  2. I don’t know on how I stumbled upon this cooking blog., All I know is that I’d better check out the archives for a good read. Ha-ha! Just droppin’ to say hi! Oh. You might want to check this out: for uhm...a different "menu."
  3. I'm a huge fan of white beans, I'm impressed at how easy those recipes are. I think I would lean towards the dip, but the soup sounds perfect for this time of year...
  4. Made the soup for dinner, it was fantastic. I used frozen spinach which was just great in this application. Real easy, quick and tasty - thanks :)