White Bean Soup with Bacon and Herbs


The Spanish dish caldo gallego is the inspiration for this warming soup, combining the heartiness of white beans and crisp bacon with a light, herb-infused broth. To keep things vegetarian, you can swap the bacon fat for olive oil or butter and top the soup with another crunchy garnish of your liking, such as croutons. The longest part of the process is allowing the soup to simmer and all the flavors to meld, but your patience will pay off. 

White-Bean Soup with Bacon and Herbs
Photo: © Petrina Tinslay
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
12 servings


  • 1 1/4 pounds thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped

  • 1 large carrot, finely diced

  • 2 celery ribs, finely diced

  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 fresh bay leaf

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided

  • 1 pound dried Great Northern beans, soaked overnight and drained

  • 10 cups chicken stock

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain, reserving the fat and bacon separately.

  2. Heat the olive oil in the soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon each of the chopped thyme and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the drained beans, stock, and 3 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat and bring to a boil. Simmer the soup over moderately low heat until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

  3. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining thyme and rosemary. Season the soup with salt and pepper and transfer to shallow bowls. Garnish the soup with the bacon and serve.

Make Ahead

The soup and bacon can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days. Recrisp the bacon before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Bright, citrusy Albariño.

Related Articles