White Bean Soup with Pesto Herb Dumplings
The perfect dinner. A hearty white bean soup topped with pillowy dollops of herb-packed pesto dumplings. Both vegan and vegetarian versions.
This is the sort of soup I crave when the weather turns. Hearty, substantial, and squarely in the comfort food realm. It's the simplest of bean soups, topped with plump herb-packed dumplings. I use whatever herbs I have on hand, and in this case it was dill, basil, and minced lemongrass, along with lots of scallions. Doubling down on the herb flavors, I also add a big dollop of pesto. A classic dumpling stew with a green, herby twist. Super delicious, and satisfying.
I note a number of variations in the headnotes of the recipe down below. If you don't want to go the pesto route, a mustard-spike is also delicious. Or, harissa! A couple of tablespoons of harissa paste in place of pesto takes the dumplings in a completely different directions.
Making this soup vegan is simple. The soup is already vegan, you just need to make a couple tweaks to the dumplings. First, be sure to use nut milk in the dumpling batter, and omit the egg (adding an extra 1/4 cup of nut milk to the batter). The details are in the headnotes as well. The dumplings are a bit more dense, but still tasty. The one important detail to adhere to - don't oversize the dumplings.
More Bean Recipes
If you're on the lookout for more ways to cook beans, here's a post with my favorite bean recipes. Be sure to check out this favorite method of how to cook beans. And don't miss the recipe for Cinnamon Chipotle Slow-Cooked Coconut Beans that I just posted. So good!
White Bean Soup with Pesto Herb Dumplings
To make this soup vegan, omit the egg in the dumpling, and bump the almond milk up to 1 1/4 cup. The dumplings won't be quite as tender, but they're still good. I also like to make this soup with a mustard accent or (!) a harissa accent in the dumplings. For this, omit the pesto, and use either 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard, or 2 tablespoons harissa paste.
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, lightly crushed (optional)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 5 cups of water or vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
- 14- ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup almond milk (or whatever milk you like)
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 1 cup chopped herbs (dill, scallions, basil, lemongrass, etc.), plus more for serving
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
In a large, wide soup pot saute the onions and carrots in the olive oil over medium high heat. Cook until the vegetables are tender, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the caraway seeds, if using, and then sprinkle with the flour, stir, and allow to cook for another 2-3 minutes, allowing the flour to toast just a bit. Stir in the water, and salt, and bring to a gentle simmer, and cook until the soup thickens, 5 minutes or so. Stir in the beans. Allow to simmer gently while you make the dumplings.
In a mixing bowl, combine the almond milk, egg, and pesto, whisk well, until uniform, then add the herbs. In another mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry, then stir with a large fork until just combined. Drop generous tablespoons of this dumpling mixture into the gently simmering soup. Resist the urge to make the dumplings larger than this, they will definitely blossom in size. It's fine if the dumplings are touching. Cover and cook for 7 minutes or so. Use a big spoon to flip each dumpling, and cook for another 7 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve hot, topped with more chopped herbs and scallions.
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Your beans recipe is looking so nice and tasty. I will also try it. You have explained all the steps well. Thanks for sharing your good experience.
This was another winner, even with the (kind of ridiculous) modification that I made when I made this today after returning home late last night from travel: -I used carrot, celery, and yukon gold potato as the base and had no caraway, so I added some savory herbs (sage, thyme, etc) -I used the dijon variation and added a few spoons of cheddar powder to the dumpling mix (yum) -I was out of both milk (even almond milk) and eggs so I improvised by thinning some greek yogurt with water. The dumplings were perhaps a tad more dense than I'd like but neither I nor my partner complained. It was a satisfying and hearty lunch on an icy cold day.
Smart substitutions all the way around! So happy you liked it!
Hi Heidi! This looks delicious. Do you think it would work with buckwheat flour to make it GF? Maybe up the liquid in the batter or use GF flour that has stabilizers instead? Been following you for over 13 years now and you keep coming with 'hits' - way to go!
Hi Kaly! - I think I'd attempt with the GF blend to start....and then maybe experiment with adding a percentage of buckwheat flour in future versions.
oops, just re-read your notes about omitting the egg -- so soup & dumplings it is!!
sounds wonderful - going to give it a shot. question: any way to make the dumplings without egg? if not, it will be a delicious soup without dumplings....maybe biscuits on the side. thanks and cheers!
Loved, loved, loved this! Thank you. I made it as written but used homemade chicken stock. My herbs were dill, scallions and oregano. So good.
I made this as written, with the pesto, and it was amazing. (Even better on the second day!). It came together quickly, and the caraway seed was a perfect touch.
Fresh caraway seeds are a must! The only thing I'll change next time is to use more broth or add less flour to the soup. It got so thick it was difficult to add the dumplings and the leftovers were pretty sludgey (I don't think it's meant to be eaten as leftovers though). The dumpling recipe made at least twice as much as I could fit in the soup so I used it the next day in some tomato soup. Fantastic! I'll never make plain dumplings again.
Wondering if the dumplings absolutely require the whole wheat pastry flour - could I try white whole wheat flour, all-purpose, or whole wheat flour? Or do you think the dumplings would end up too dense? Thanks!
Give it a try - maybe start with a blend of APF & one of the WW flours :)!
Hi! This looks fantastic! I’m wondering what herbs you might use if you were making the harissa dumpling version.
Hi Wes, quite honestly, you could leave them out, and just let the harissa take center stage.
This is remarkably good. My husband, who grew up on his grandmother's Chicken and Dumplings said we should have it for dinner every week. I don't know about that, but it certainly is in my rotation for chilly days.
ever since I made this soup & dumplings for the first time my wife now demands I make it 2 or 3 times per month... cant blame her... it is simply wonderful!!!!!
Hubba hubba! Vegan version happening soon.
Finally made this today. Not as pretty as yours but bright yet cozy, perfect for the sluggish beginning to the spring we are getting here! Thanks!
Made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! I added a tsp of Italian Seasoning and a parsnip to the soup. My kids ate two bowls and loooooved the dumplings.
Fantastic! Thanks for another great recipe. Whipped up quickly for dinner this evening - with the harissa paste - to rave reviews. Our girls now age 10 and 12 have grown up on your recipes, via the blog and your well-worn cookbooks on our shelf. 'Is this Heidi's recipe?' they ask, as if you're a personal friend.... This will be packed in lunchboxes tomorrow (surely the only two students at Chinese school in Seoul, Korea with this deliciousness waiting for the noon bell). Keep up the creativity, Heidi!
Thanks for the note Dee Dee! This makes my day....
If I were trying to do a little pre-prep, would I be able to make the dumpling mixture a few hours before cooking?
HS: Hi Amanda - yes, totallly! Although I might combine the wet and dry ingredients just before making the actual dumplings.