tomato bean soup

creamy tomato and bean soup with garlic croutons

This soup is one we make all the time, particularly on weekends when we’re dashing back home, chilly and damp after a football match and need something hearty with some goodness in before we head off again. I shared a video of me making this during lockdown, when we dreamed if being able to dash around again. You can watch me make it here.

It is a soup my children love the most, being not that far from a can of Heinz, but with the sweetness coming not from sugar but from peppers and balsamic, and the creaminess coming from beans with just an optional touch of cream cheese or creme fraiche. The spinach goes unnoticed too, always nice to get a bonus green in. If you’re cooking for people who are cautious of trying new things, picking something with a familiar texture, colour and taste helps get that first taste in more easily.

Croutons always help make this more appealing too and the recipe below makes delicious croutons with any stale bread you have knocking around or those random crusts floating around in the freezer.

This soup is also perfect for dinner, I’d add a grilled cheese sandwich alongside to make it more substantial then. If your evenings involve dashing around, then make this, pop it into a wide necked flask and take it with you to eat in the car.

Get my other free soup recipes here.

Soup ingredients

(serves 4) see notes below for substitutions

  • 2 x 400g (2x 15oz) cans butter beans or any white beans
  • 2 x 400g (2x 14.5oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 red peppers (bell peppers)
  • 160g (5oz) frozen leaf or chopped spinach
  • Fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, inexpensive stuff is fine
  • Optional – 100g (3 1⁄2 oz) crème fraiche or cream cheese plus Parmesan or mature Cheddar to grate over at the end

Crouton ingredients

  • 2-4x slices stale bread – ideally day old or from the freezer
  • 2 tablespoons oil – rapeseed or olive
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 large pinch sea salt flakes


You can buy the equipment I use in this recipe, as well as the wide necked flasks, through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. I receive a small affiliate fee from Amazon if you buy via my link. The products don’t cost you any more. These small fees help me keep creating all the free content I share.

  • Knife and chopping board
  • Large saucepan with a lid
  • Large frying pan
  • A piece of kitchen paper/kitchen roll or a damp cloth
  • A blender – I prefer the immersion blender in my shop for soups, less clean up and easy to get through a large quantity
  • Silicone spatula

To make the soup

You can watch me make the soup in the accompanying video, helpful if you need to know the best way to chop the vegetables and what you’re aiming for. You can watch me make it here.

1. Put the tomatoes in a large saucepan over a high heat with the beans and all the liquid from the cans of beans. Bring to the boil while you chop the vegetables.

2. De-seed and roughly chop the peppers so you have pieces that are around 2cm (1 inch) cubes. Add the peppers to the pan as you chop them.

3. Peel and slice the garlic and add the slices to the pan along with a pinch of sea salt.

4. Bring the pan back to the boil then cook with a lid on, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.

5. While the soup cooks, make the croutons. Put the oil and whole clove of garlic into a large frying pan. Heat on a medium high heat and tear the bread into the pan. Tear the pieces into around 2cm (1 inch) squares. Mix so that the bread is roughly coated with the oil and cook, stirring occasionally until the bread starts to turn golden, smell toasty and get a little crisp. Then turn off the pan and scatter the croutons with a pinch of salt. Stir and set aside.

6. Add the frozen spinach to the soup for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Continuing to cook until the spinach has defrosted.

7. Take the soup off the heat and use an immersion blender or jug blender to blend the soup. Then add the crème fraiche/cream cheese/milk and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. Blend again and taste before adding salt, pepper and more vinegar as needed.

Different brands of beans will have different amount of salt and different tomatoes will have different acidity so you will need to taste to judge how much extra you need.

8. Serve with the croutons scattered on top. You might want to gate some cheese over the soup too. Leftover soup can be frozen or can be kept in the fridge for 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan until piping hot.

Substitutions – Instead of…

Beans – any canned or cooked dried beans will work
Canned diced tomatoes – Use passata or whole canned plum tomatoes
Peppers – Use any colour peppers or peppers from a jar, or grate a couple of carrots in instead for sweetness
Frozen spinach – Use any fresh or frozen green vegetable – broccoli, kale or fresh spinach. Add fresh, uncooked greens for the last couple of minutes of cooking.
Crème fraiche/cream cheese – milk or 2 tablespoons good olive oil
Balsamic – Use any vinegar with a pinch of sugar or pomegranate molasses in place of the sweet and sourness balsamic brings
Stale bread – any gluten free bread, crusty or sourdough. Leave the slices out for a couple of hours or toast them until they are dry but not crisp.

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