A creamy vegetarian bean and potato soup full of delicious Italian flavors. This soup is packed with nutritious veggies, it’s flexible and flavorful, and easy to make in one pot with canned beans!

Let’s make a flavorful vegetarian soup that can use up the odds and ends in your fridge…

My favorite types of recipes are these super flexible ones that can clean out your fridge if you have a lot of random veggies hanging around in small quantities. This soup incorporates potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, carrot and kale – but all in fairly small amounts, reflecting how my fridge generally looks at the end of the week when my meal plan didn’t perfectly sync. This soup mopped it all up and turned it into something delicious.

Let’s be honest, my meal plan never syncs up quite right, but that’s more than OK because it keeps me creating recipes like this one.

This recipe is a spin off from my Vegetarian Tortellini, Kale & Lentil Soup and my Vegetarian Zuppa Toscana with Lentils recipes and uses a similar flavor base (Italian herbs, smoked paprika, fennel seeds and parmesan style cheese- my magic ticket to amazing vegetarian umami flavor!) But this particular recipe goes even bigger with all of those spices because beans and potatoes just need it. So don’t be alarmed by the quantities involved, be heavy handed with the salt and pepper, and enjoy!

Choosing your ingredients: what to know & what you can swap

  • Onion and lots of garlic are crucial for flavor here so don’t skip those!
  • The other hard veggies I use are carrot, pepper and mushroom. I just always have these veggies on the go. But you’re fine to swap around here and bring in things like zucchini, eggplant or cauliflower. There is some give and take on the quantities too – don’t worry if you have a little less or more of things.
  • Any potatoes will work fine, I use the smallest baby potatoes and quarter them, but a large potato that is diced up into chunks is fine too. Different potatoes will have different cook times is all.
  • A couple handfuls of kale add great texture to this soup, but spinach or another leafy green would work too.
  • We want two cans of beans. Any beans are fine. I’m using cannellini and borlotti beans here. A bean mix, any white beans, kidney beans – all would be fine. You can of course use beans cooked from dried – just cook them separately and then spoon in 2.5 -3 cups of cooked beans and a little bit of their broth.
  • The spice mix includes crushed fennel seeds, smoked paprika, dried sage and some mixed Italian herbs. I would say the fennel seeds and smoked paprika are crucial for the flavor I’m going for. But the latter two are changeable. Use thyme, dried parsley, or any other mixed herb. You can also throw in some chili or red pepper flakes to give this soup a spicy kick if you like.
  • We use some lemon zest and lemon juice, which bring a nice bright flavor, but it’s OK to skip it. If you do, I’d definitely suggest adding a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan after cooking the veggies so you still get a little bit of an acidic element in there.
  • You want a parmesan style cheese, but if you need this soup to be vegetarian be wary of actual parmesan which tends to contain animal rennet. I use a supermarket brand “Italian hard cheese” which is a great stand in, made in the style of parmesan but with vegetarian rennet.
  • Your vegetable stock or broth needs to be really flavorful. A low sodium version might fall a little flat (potatoes and beans just drink up salt). But you will want to taste test as you go and adjust the salt to your own tastes.

Scaling the recipe up

If you have a big enough pot, this recipe can easily be doubled. It may take a little longer to cook down the veggies and get the potatoes softened, but you can still follow the recipe as written.

Q: Why is the broth an orangey color when there is no tomato? 🤔

So I’m pre-empting this question because it does seem strange! But the color of the broth is from the full tablespoon of smoked paprika we are using. As I’ve already mentioned, we are using a LOT of spices and dried herbs to make this as flavorful as can be – there are plenty of bland ingredients to counter-balance it, so while it might look like too much, I promise it isn’t!

Serving Suggestions

You will get four good meal sized bowls out of this recipe, or stretch it to six smaller bowls. And you don’t really need a side dish – this soup already has everything you need for a complete meal! But if you’re looking for ideas for a larger spread…

Creamy Veggie, Bean & Potato Soup

A creamy vegetarian bean and potato soup full of delicious Italian flavors. This soup is packed with nutritious veggies, it's flexible and flavorful, and easy to make in one pot with canned beans!
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  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1 medium portobello mushroom, diced
  • 1 medium sweet or bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed with a pestle and mortar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp mixed Italian herbs
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup (70 g) kale
  • 2 cans beans, 14oz / 400g size – rinsed and drained
  • ½ lb (225 g) baby potatoes, quartered
  • 4 cups (1 l) vegetable stock or broth
  • ½ cup (120 ml) cream
  • 1 cup (115 g) parmesan style cheese, see notes
  • 1 lemon, for juicing
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped – use as much as you can / like


  • Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the carrots, onions and pepper and saute for a few minutes until they are starting to soften.
    1 medium red onion, 1 small carrot, 1 medium sweet or bell pepper
  • Add the mushrooms and saute until they are starting to release their liquid. If the pan feels too dry or sticky, you can add a splash of white wine or vegetable stock to loosen things up.
    1 medium portobello mushroom
  • Add the garlic, lemon zest and all of the dried herbs and spices. Mix through the pan until just fragrant.
    6 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tbsp dried sage, 1 tbsp mixed Italian herbs, 1 tsp lemon zest, 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • Add the potato, beans and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the potatoes are tender throughout. Taste test and adjust the seasoning as needed.
    2 cans beans, 1/2 lb baby potatoes, 4 cups vegetable stock or broth
  • Add the kale. Stir through and cook for a minute or two until it's bright green and wilting.
    1 cup kale
  • Add the basil, cream, cheese and juice of 1/2 of the lemon. Stir through until the cheese has melted through and a creamy soup has emerged!
    1/2 cup cream, 1 cup parmesan style cheese, 1 handful fresh basil, 1 lemon
  • Serve with an additional squeeze of lemon on top if desired.


Nutritional information is based on 4 servings.
Cheese: Any Italian hard cheese will work here, such as parmesan, pecorino or asiago. But watch out for animal rennet which is traditionally used in actual DOP parmesan. I use a vegetarian Italian hard cheese that doesn’t contain animal rennet.
Calories: 579kcal, Carbohydrates: 73g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 13g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 62mg, Sodium: 1172mg, Potassium: 1670mg, Fiber: 16g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 6828IU, Vitamin C: 73mg, Calcium: 498mg, Iron: 9mg