Heartbeet Kitchen
Simple Instant Pot White Bean Soup + Stories from a Nebraska Bean Harvest
November 18, 2017 (last updated January 8, 2020) in Gluten-Free · Main Dish · Nut-Free · Recipe Box · Travel · Winter · 166 Comments

Using great northern beans from Nebraska, this instant pot white bean soup recipe is creamy, full of flavor, and easy to prepare. Prep time is just 10 minutes! Also, if in the past you’ve struggled to cook the perfect bean from scratch, I share helpful instructions for how to cook beans perfectly, each time, in an instant pot.

two bowls of white bean soup made in an instant pot sitting by sidebowl of instant pot white bean soup with spoon and sprinkled on top with thymeThis Simple Instant Pot White Bean soup recipe, and my visit to Nebraska was sponsored by the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. Post contains amazon affiliate links. 

Nebraska. A blank space in my mind, except for visions of corn fields and cattle spread across the flat landscape. And yet I found myself booking a plane ticket for the state at the end of September, on assignment for the state’s Dry Bean Commission.

I arrived in Scotts Bluff county on the western edge of Nebraska, to find something completely different and beautiful, with an overwhelming sense of solitude. The wide-open landscape, the enormity of the sky, the incredible rock formations… the magnificent sunsets and sunrises. And “salt of the earth” people.

I was there to capture the bean harvest, and the passionate farmers who grow more than 85% of the country’s great northern beans (small white) and the second leading state in pinto bean production. Chances are if you’ve eaten either of these varieties they’ve come from the hands of Jim, or Burdette.  Jeff. Dean. Or another family farm just down the road.

Bean Farmers // western Nebraska // dry beans Nebraska bean fieldsBean Farmers // western Nebraska // dry beans bean farmer with dry beans in hand, in a Nebraska bean field

Their hands tell the story.
Of long nights and early mornings.
Of the good years and the bad.
Of the love they have for such a humble, nourishing crop.

I walked the fields with them over the course of the next two days, and climbed into their combines for a birds eye view of harvesting. We talked about the technical things involved with the soil, and how techniques for harvesting have evolved over the years.

But one thing has always stayed the same. The risk, the uncertainty. Whether it’s the weather, the fluctuations of government pricing, consumer demand….. their success rides on so many factors that are completely out of their control. And that takes a special person, one whom has passion, dedication, and care engrained in their way of life, providing for their family and ultimately, all of us.

bean harvest, machine dumping beans into semi truck

Dry beans are quite unique in the fact that they are food that flourishes as a living plant, dries in the field, and are harvested for the seed within their pods. They’ll stay that way until rehydrated by way of cooking, turning into a delicious, healthy, protein rich part of our meals. They’re highly economical, and versatile. I use them in everything from soups to desserts, and main dishes to appetizers.

But maybe like you, cooking beans from scratch has been my nemesis. I never knew whether to soak them at room temperature or in the refrigerator, let alone remember to soak them. And then salt, when do I add it? And why aren’t these getting soft, or the opposite, these have no texture left and all are split. Sound familiar?

Basically I’d never cooked perfect beans. Until the Instant Pot did THIS for me. Tender and creamy, not falling apart, and flavorful. 

cooking great northern beans in a glass bowl with spoonGreat Northern Beansgirl cutting onions, preparing ingredients for a soup made in the instant pot

All the thought and debate is taken out thanks to this cooking device taking the world by storm, which is basically pressure cooker combined with other functions that you’d normally have to do on the stovetop separately, like sauté. It’s smart.

I’m convinced it makes the perfect pot of great northern beans every time.

How to cook beans in the Instant Pot

First things first!

You can soak or not soak. The beans will be tender and creamy regardless. Cooking time will be a little longer if you don’t soak, but still only takes 28 minutes. (Just 8 minutes when you soak!) The only difference besides this was when I didn’t soak, the appearance wasn’t quite as pristine. Meaning there were a few more beans that didn’t stay together. The decision rests in how I’m going to use them.  If I’m going to be using the beans whole in a recipe, I don’t soak if I’m going to be pureeing them. Like soup!

  1. Salt before cooking. Yes! This doesn’t inhibit the tenderness, it infuses them with flavor and helps to create a delicious broth that you can use in other recipes.
  2. A teaspoon of oil in the pot is necessary so that the foam created when you cook beans at a high pressure does not overflow.
  3. Extra herbs and onion in the pot is also key for infusing the beans with subtle flavor.
  4. The fresher your beans, the better result. Buy from farmers directly, or from the bulk bins in your coop/grocery store, where the turn over is high.
  5. How long do I set the timer for? 
    • 8 minutes if you’ve soaked the beans, 30 minutes if they’re unsoaked

This simple instant pot white bean soup has quickly become our favorite. Super creamy… and it’s simple to make, with simple ingredients. Once the beans are cooked, you sauté shallots in the bottom of the instant pot, then add back the beans, some of their broth, tahini, and olive oil.

You can use an immersion blender to puree right in the pot and serve! I like to reserve a 1/2 cup of beans to add to the top of each bowl, with a little more fresh thyme. It gives a nice contrast in texture and I love how the beautiful white beans look to the eye.

Simple Instant Pot White Bean Soup {vegan}

More Instant Pot Recipes To Try:

Gluten-Free Instant Pot Pumpkin Cheesecake

Vegetarian Instant Pot Pinto Beans

Tuscan White Beans with Fried Sage

Super Creamy, Basic Instant Pot White Bean Soup

Simple Instant Pot White Bean Soup

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

 Creamy white bean soup made in the instant pot!


  • 1 cup dried Great Northern beans
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
  • 1/2 of a medium sized onion
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon high quality olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder


*You can soak or not soak your beans. I usually prefer to soak overnight in the refrigerator, covering with 4 cups of water. If you don't, that's okay too, cooking time will just be different. 

  1. Add beans (soaked or unsoaked) to instant pot. Cover with 4 1/2 cups of water. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 3 bay leaves (fresh or dried), 4 sprigs fresh thyme, onion, and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Attach cover to instant pot. Make sure vent is turned to sealing. Press on, and then hit manual. Make sure you are on high pressure.
  2. For soaked beans, set timer to 8 minutes. For unsoaked beans, set timer to 31 minutes, and cook on high pressure.
  3. When done cooking, let pot release for 22 minutes, then manually release to complete. If you are in a hurry, you can release the valve after 10 minutes, just know that your beans will lose some of their texture. 
  4. Pour beans and broth into a separate bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup beans, for topping at the end.
  5. Return the empty instant pot bowl back to the machine. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and set machine to saute. Add minced shallots and cook 5 minutes, until tender, stirring.
  6. Turn instant pot off, and add beans + 2 1/2 cups broths back to pot. Then add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and zest, parmesan, and garlic powder. For ultra creaminess, you can add everything to a high powered blender. Or use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
  7. To serve, top with reserved whole beans and a drizzle of good quality olive oil (this is a must, as it adds a lot of flavor!), remaining sprig of fresh thyme.


These times are only for cooking Great Northern beans. I use this handy time sheet directly from Instant Pot, which shows every bean and how long to cook them for both soaked and not soaked (dry). 

166 thoughts on “Simple Instant Pot White Bean Soup + Stories from a Nebraska Bean Harvest

  1. Karlie

    Favorite thing to make with beans is blondies! Lends such a creamy consistency and perfect for a gluten free treat. Love that this recipe has tahini! mm

  2. Shoshana

    Now that the weather is getting colder, I love making a giant pot of vegetarian chili. I use a little bit of dark chocolate and it makes all the difference!

  3. Jolaine Wiens

    This looks amazing! I absolutely love making dips and sauces with beans, like hummus! They are just so full of flavor and texture and satisfying.

  4. MaryEllen

    Easy, quick soup… I just throw in whatever I have in the fridge at the end of the week along with my beans and voila!! Tasty soup for the weekend!!

  5. Shirleen

    What a wonderful applisnce! I would use it to make black bean soup. Ill be trying your white bean soup soon, tha tahini is an interesting addition.

  6. Lauren

    Oh man ! this recipe sounds AMAZING! I love to make chili, winter harvest quinoa salads and bean dip with my Northern great whites :) Thank you for sharing!

  7. Starla

    That looks absolutely delicious and so comforting. My favorites is 15 bean soup.. which I have grown up eating. It’s definitely a comfort food for me! I follow you on instagram @ _ifancythat // and of course I have been subscribed to your emails!


  8. Michelle

    I love to make a big batch of Chickpea’s and use them through out the week to put in salads, rice bowls, and make hummus.

  9. Kelly M.

    I love making “Alfredo sauce” by blending white beans with broth, garlic, and oil. I follow on IG (elizabethh0220) and subscribe to the newsletter!

  10. Jeffrey

    I like my beans served inside burritos. I make a pork loin, season and shred it for the meat. We add some rice, beans, roasted vegetables, leafy stuff, cheese and salsa. They are the BOMBGIGGITY. I’d love to win the Instant Pot, most of the items for my burritos could be prepared in it.
    I already follow you on Instagram with the handle @firerunner2379

  11. Jennifer

    I love white beans in many dishes, and a favorite is Tuscan bean soup. Last winter I roasted a few heads of garlic. I don’t have a blender, hand or otherwise, so I put white beans and garlic through a sieve, added some broth, 1/2 and 1/2, and fresh sage and rosemary. It was delish and I think would be a good vehicle for additions like sauteed greens (**cough*bacon*cough**). If the idea appeals to you and you can refine it, please do!

  12. Marsha in CT

    I’m a white bean chicken chili -o-phile. Also I like to add white beans/ cannolini to a Russian chopped beet+ salad. Yumm-o-Yumm-o-Yumm!

  13. Sarah @ Snixy Kitchen

    What an amazing experience and these photos capture the farm so beautifully. Also I’m VERY sold on an instant pot – I NEED one!! Like you, I hardly ever cooked dry beans because I never knew how to get them to be perfect. Though I do love using beans in soups, so now that it’s winter, I definitely need one!!

  14. Jennifer Essad

    Love love love baked beans, I usually use great northern or white beans making a sweet sauce with onion, bacon and some brown sugar #whitebeans #food52 #thekitchn #technique

  15. Ruby

    Amanda, I absolutely loove your beautiful food stories and pictures. You give us stunning glimpses into the hard work and love that goes into gathering nourishment and the families that do that. I loved this whole post, and this soup is just lovely! In the winter I adore a creamy, hearty white bean soup xx

      1. brenda gill

        i love them with soy chorizo browned in a skillet added to the cooked beans along with fresh garlic, onion, a bunch of cilantro minced and added, salt to taste then adobo chiles for the smokiness!! These are vegan and amazing, but also comfort food at it’s best!!

  16. Jolene

    I could eat soup and stew for every meal, every season. My boyfriend isn’t as fond of it, but does like my white chicken chili, so I tend to make that a LOT this time of year!

  17. Dawn Jones

    Mine is a little basic, but I love chili. I live in Indiana and it is almost December, there is nothing better than a hot bowl of chili on a cold day. Thank you so much for the chance to win an awesome prize, have a great day!

  18. Anna

    What a cool giveaway! I don’t have too many bean recipes so I need to expand it. I do black beans but that’s it. So sad.

  19. Erin

    I love making black bean soup with roasted chilies, spicy sausage and white bean soup, and Italian veggie stew. This soup recipe looks delicious!

  20. Jessica VanAtta


  21. Melissa Bond

    I LOVE cooking beans. I use them in soups, sauteed with sausage, as standalone side dishes and making dips for snacking.

  22. Nina

    I love making vegetable soup with beans, chopped tomatoes, spinach and other vegetables in season. I would love to gain more room in my small kitchen by replacing my slow cooker and pressure cooker with an instant pot!

  23. Melissa

    I have never tried this before but it does sound so delicious! I’m a huge fan of meals like this in the colder weather.

  24. Arin Salisbury

    Favorite thing to make with beans is refried beans with melty jack cheese on top 🤤 I wonder if those could be made in the instant pot 🤔

  25. Laurie

    Ohhhh!!! I’ve been thinking I need to get an Instant Pot to get me through the winter– on days when meal planning hasn’t happened. Favorite meal w/ beans? Chili, of course. Which happens almost every Sunday at our house. :)

  26. Abigail

    This post is beautifully written and made me appreciate what’s behind the bean more than I ever have. I can’t WAIT to try this recipe!

  27. Kayleigh Roberts

    This looks fantastic!! I’ve never thought of using tahini as part of base for soup, but I’m sure it adds great savory flavors and creamy/smooth texture! Perfect recipe for the chilly winter months :)

  28. Leslie

    When the weather gets cool
    I love to make a similar white bean soup or chili with white beans and
    A skillet of cornbread.
    Can’t wait to try your recipe!

  29. Katie

    Wow. These pictures. Coming from a recent vegetarian this is great information and makes me love beans 10 times more ❤️ If that was even possible.

  30. Cristy

    We’re working on cutting back on meat, so we’ve been relying on beans a lot more lately, beans in tacos, soups, and veggie chili of course.

  31. Edie Stavinoha

    Thank you for sharing this story! I really like pinto beans in my chili, but had no idea that Nebraska was 2nd in the US in growing pinto beans! I grew up in Nebraska and we always had white bean soup. I can’t wait to try your recipe. I like to make Italian recipes with white beans too. I’ve been intrigued by the instant pot since you first mentioned it a year ago. 💞

  32. Kristin Wood

    Amanda! The photos are divine. I love the photo of the farmer. Truly caught every trial and success of that man. I love great northern beans – especially in soup! Keep on inspiring us and taking is” with” you. ❤

  33. Melissa

    This recipe caught my eye and looks delicious. I do not make a lot with beans but am definitely going to try this for sure!

    Thank you for this opportunity for the giveaway!


  34. Karen

    My favorite thing to make with beans is navy bean pesto pasta. That soup looks amazing! Your writing is fantastic. Please enter me in the instapot drawing. Thank you!

  35. Anna Gangadharan

    Can’t believe the instant pot will make beans creamy without soaking! Thank you for sharing such a neat story about bean harvesting in Nebraska. The hands where our food comes from is as important as the food it creates. ❤️

  36. Amber

    I love your recipes! Really hoping to get an instapot this year so that I can finally embrace all the amazing instapot recipes on the blogosphere right now.

  37. Pari Kemmick

    This is so great! Love all the photos

    I’d love to use one of these. I have access to lots of dried beans from a farm I volunteer on. I also just started an Americorps job working with refugees and while it’s amaizng, we get a modest living stipend. Finding ways to cook on a budget is essential!

    Thanks for your great blog and for giveaways!!

  38. Kim Jamison

    Thank you for sharing your experience in Nebraska. It sounds like a beautiful state. I’m excited to try your recipe. And I’ve always wondered about when to add the salt too, but I’ve always soaked my beans lol. Thanks for the chance at an Instant Pot, it’s definitely better than cooking for hours!

  39. Sarah

    Right now I’ve been making a lot of traditional Ayurvedic kitchari with mung bean dal or lentils and basmati rice with lots of spices and fresh ginger.

  40. Susan B

    Make a big pot of pinto beans and then I eat them plain or add them all sorts of things – baked russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, casseroles, salads, etc.

    Following you on Instagram and signed up for your newsletter too :)

  41. Amy W.

    Good old fashioned ham-hock and beans. Sometime I use a smoked turkey leg. Have to add carrots, celery and herbs, too! Yum!

  42. Michelle Crisp

    My favorite thing to make with beans is bean burritos! Really, LOL. I LOVE them! I make them at home often. I smother mine in green chili, and top it with avocado, tomato, and onion. Sometimes I add rice, beetles crumbles, and/or vegan cheese to the beans. Yum!

  43. Grace Rusch

    This soup looks amazing! I’m in full on soup mode right now. Beans are basically my favorite food so they go in every soup, salad, pasta, taco etc. Can’t wait to try this creamy white bean soup!

  44. Michelle

    I haven’t made beans in so long because they take forever to make! I do love cooking red beans and rice though. My grandparents always made them for us and I love making my grandma’s recipe. Honestly, if I win this instant pot I’d cook red beans and rice weekly!

  45. Savannagal

    I thoroughly enjoyed this article. It’s great to be reminded that most every bite of food we eat, unless we’ve grown it ourselves, comes from the hands of a farmer somewhere on this blue marble. My thanks go out to all of them for their hard work and perseverance. Thanks for sharing

  46. Nawana

    I made this recipe and it was absolutely delicious!! Wish you could have seen my 1yr old devour it, he loved it and made a glorious mess. Your instant pot timing was spot on too, thanks so much.

  47. Wesley

    What size Instant Pot is this recipe for because I have the 3 quart Duo? Also, is there a way to make it low sodium?

    1. Amanda Paa Post author

      Hi Wesley!

      I use a 6 qt instant pot, but the smaller size will work too. This recipe is quite low sodium the way it is currently written.


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