One chilly day soon, put a big pot of this easy-going 15 Bean Soup on your stove to simmer away. Pull on your slippers, putter about while the wind blows outside, and enjoy the tantalizingly build up of warm, cozy smells wafting from your kitchen. It’s a snug, contented picture, and it ends the way many happy stories do: a delicious, deeply satisfying meal.

Easy 15 bean soup with ham hock in a bowl with bacon and cheese

The simple 15 bean soup is so many things I am craving right now. Similar to this Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup, it’s hearty and filling, without being food-coma inducing, a much-appreciated hiatus between the moments of holiday excess.

It’s incredibly economical, helpful at this time of year when we end up spending extra everywhere else.

It yields a generous portion, ideal whether you are feeding a large gathering, or to eat leftover on a night when the time to cook is less.

And of course it calls for a loaf of crusty bread, which in every way speaks straight to my heart.

In the event that you have a holiday ham in the your future and are seeking how to use a ham bone, I’ve included an option to use it to make this 15 bean soup.

Of course, this 15 bean soup can be vegetarian, or you can use a different meat. We did bacon, and I have ideas for making 15 bean soup with sausage, kielbasa, ham hocks, or chicken below for you too.

Healthy 15 bean soup made with ham hock, bacon, and cheese

How to Make 15 Bean Soup

This recipe is called “15 bean soup” but you don’t need to separately buy 15 different kinds of beans; rather, you start with a bag of something called “bean soup mix.” It is essentially a dried bean variety pack. Once you have that secured (look for it in the dried bean section of your grocery store), the rest of the ingredients are easy staples. I bet you have most of them on hand right now.

The Ingredients

  • 15 Bean Soup Mix. Look for anything called “bean soup mix.” Some mixes have 13; some have 16. This the exact bean soup mix I used (you’ll have some leftover; try using it to make my favorite Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup!). If your bean soup mix comes with a seasoning packet, simply discard it; this soup is already seasoned. For more on the kinds of beans in 15 bean soup mix, see below.
  • Bacon. Adding bacon adds to the soup’s rich, hearty flavor, and the drippings are perfect for sautéing the other ingredients.
    • If you prefer to make this soup without bacon, you can use olive oil instead of the bacon drippings.
  • Vegetables. For added flavor and nutritional value. I chose to add the golden soup trifecta of onion, carrots, and celery.
  • Ham Bone. Leftover ham bone in your future? Go ahead and add it here! Omit the salt and swap the chicken broth for water so that your soup isn’t too salty, then season to taste at the end.
    • You can omit the ham bone if you prefer to make this soup vegetarian or don’t have one at the ready.
  • Broth. If you’re not using the ham bone, chicken broth will help add flavor to your soup.
  • Spices. A blend of favorites to give the soup big-time flavor, including the star smoked paprika. It gives the soup bewitching smokiness that makes the soup taste complex and will have your spoon wandering back to the bowl for more.
  • Fire-Roasted Tomatoes. One of my pantry staples! The tomatoes add extra flavor and liquid to the soup.
  • Red Wine Vinegar. For a touch of acid and brightness. Don’t skip it; it brings the soup to life.
  • Parmesan Cheese. The finishing touch.

The Directions

Heads up! The beans do need to soak overnight. If you forget, I have a quick soak method for you below.

  1. Before you plan to make the soup: place the beans in a large bowl, and cover with water. Let stand overnight. OR see the quick soak method below.
  2. When you are ready to cook the soup: drain and rinse the beans.
  3. Cook the bacon over medium low until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon, and leave the drippings in the pot. (If using olive oil instead, warm it in the pot.)
  4. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the remaining vegetables to the pot. Add the beans, ham bone (if using), bay leaf, and broth or water.
  5. Bring the soup to a boil, then partially cover and simmer until the beans begin to break down.
  6. Stir in the tomatoes and spices, and let simmer uncovered to further develop the flavor. Remove the bayleaf and ham bone, then add the vinegar and reserved bacon.
  7. Adjust seasoning as desired, and serve hot with fresh parsley and Parmesan. ENJOY!

A mixture of beans in a colander for making 15 bean soup

What Beans are in 15 Bean Soup?

  • The typical 15 bean soup mix will contain a mixture of great Northern, pinto, large lima, yelloweye, garbanzo, baby lima, green split, kidney, cranberry, small white, pink, small red, yellow split, lentil, navy, white kidney, and black beans.
  • I used Bob’s Red Mill’s 13 Bean Soup Mix which contains: navy, black, red, pinto, garbanzo, great Northern, kidney, baby lima and large lima beans; black-eyed, yellow split and green split peas; and brown and red lentils. I especially love the lentils here.
  • Different brands may contain some variations of this mixture, so be sure to explore all the options if you have a preference. Honestly though, as long as you have a mix, your soup will taste great.

Is 15 Bean Soup Healthy?

YES, 15 bean soup is healthy!

  • Beans are high in protein and fiber, meaning this soup will keep you full.
  • This recipe also includes an ample amount of carrots, which are high in beta carotene, antioxidants, potassium, vitamins, and fiber. 

15 Bean Soup – Quick Soak Method

Forget to soak your beans overnight? Follow this method to quickly soak your beans:

  • Rinse and drain your beans. Then, place in a pot and cover with 3 inches of cold water, and boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the stove, place a lid on the pot, and let the beans sit for about 1 hour. Drain, rinse, and cook according to recipe instructions.
  • The above might not seem “quick,” since the beans need to soak for an hour, but it’s a much faster option than overnight soaking.

A bowl of 15 bean soup with bacon and cheese

Recipe Variations

  • Cajun 15 Bean Soup Recipe. Use a bag of Cajun 15 Bean Soup and seasoning instead of regular. Add 1 diced green pepper with the onion. You can also play around with swapping the salt and spices in this recipe with your favorite Cajun spice blend.
  • 15 Bean Soup with Ham Hock. If you don’t have a hambone but want similar richness and flavor, you can make this 15 bean soup with a ham hock instead. Be sure to wait until the end to season with salt and use water instead of broth, since the ham hock will be salty.
  • 15 Bean Soup with Chicken. Add 1 pound of cubed boneless skinless chicken breast, and saute it with the onion until cooked through. Finish cooking the soup as directed. You could also stir in premade shredded chicken just before serving. Reference my post on How to Make Shredded Chicken for tips.
  • 15 Bean Soup with Sausage. Add 1 pound Italian turkey sausage, and saute it with the onion until it is cooked through. Finish cooking the soup as directed.
  • 15 Bean Soup with Kielbasa. Brown 3/4 pound sliced smoked kielbasa with the onions. Finish cooking as directed.
  • Vegetarian 15 Bean Soup. Omit the meat. Season the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and additional salt to taste (this version is vegan as well!).

What to Serve with 15 Bean Soup

While this 15 bean soup can certainly be full meal on its own, here are a few ideas of what you could serve with it.

Healthy 15 bean soup in a bowl with bacon and cheese

How to Store and Reheat 15 Bean Soup

  • To Store. Store leftover bean soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat. Rewarm soup on the stove over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat leftovers in the microwave until heated through.
  • To Freeze. Place soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Recommended Tools to Make 15 Bean Soup

  • Dutch Oven. A kitchen tool that will cook beside you for years.
  • Ladle. Perfect for transferring this soup to bowls and storage containers.

A bowl of easy 15 bean soup with bacon and cheese

This 15 bean soup is cheery and yummy and appropriate for beginner cooks too. We polished off the last of the container last week, and I’m already craving it again. I hope you are craving it too!

A bowl with a healthy 15 bean soup
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15 Bean Soup

This rich and hearty 15 bean soup is a healthy, inexpensive meal! Make it with a leftover ham bone or ham hock, or serve it as a filling vegetarian main.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound 15 bean soup mix*
  • 4 strips of bacon — cut into ½-inch wide strips or 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion — diced
  • 3 cloves garlic — minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 5 medium carrots — peeled and diced
  • 3 ribs celery — diced
  • 1 ham bone – fat removed; optional — plus any leftover ham diced from the bone
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth — use water or unsalted broth if using the ham bone
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 15-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes in their juices
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt — to taste
  • Parmesan cheese — for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley — for serving

Instructions

  1. Before you plan to make the soup: place the beans in a large bowl. Pick them over to remove any debris. Cover with cool water by at least 1 inch. Let stand overnight at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

  2. When you are ready to cook the soup: drain the beans into a colander and rinse them well. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot or Dutch oven over low heat, cook the bacon over medium low, stirring it occasionally until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 8 minutes (be patient; low and slow is the name of the game here!). With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a plate and set aside, leaving the drippings in the pot. If using olive oil instead, simply warm the oil in the pot.

  4. Increase the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook until the carrots just begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the beans, ham bone (if using), bay leaf, and liquid. If you are NOT using a ham bone, use the broth for the liquid; if you ARE using a ham bone, use 6 cups of water *or* unsalted chicken broth. (If you use regular or even low sodium broth along with a ham bone, your soup may be too salty).

  6. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce heat to medium low. Place a lid on the pot, leaving it slightly ajar. Let the soup simmer, stirring it occasionally, until the beans are tender and beginning to break down, about 75 minutes.

  7. Stir in the tomatoes, paprika, chili powder, cumin, thyme, and black pepper. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. If the soup becomes thicker than you would like, add water to reach your desired consistency. Remove the bay leaf and ham bone (if using). Stir in the vinegar and reserved bacon.

  8. Taste the soup and add additional salt and pepper as desired. The amount of salt you need will vary based upon your broth and/or hambone; I added an additional 1/2 teaspoon salt and pinch of black pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan and parsley.

Recipe Notes

  • *15 bean soup mix is a bag with a mix of different varieties of dry beans (and it doesn't need to be exactly 15!); Hurst's and Goya are two popular brands (one is 15 and one is 16); Bob's Red Mill makes a 13 Bean Soup Mix that I like a lot as well. If your mix comes with a seasoning packet, discard the packet and use the beans only for this recipe.
  • TO STORE: Store leftover bean soup in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm soup in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-low heat until hot. You can also reheat leftovers in the microwave until heated through. 
  • TO FREEZE: Place soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 15 bean soup with ham, budget friendly meal, easy soup recipe, ham and bean soup, healthy bean soup

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1 (of 6)) — Calories: 435, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Potassium: 1600mg, Carbohydrates: 73g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Protein: 29g, Vitamin A: 9212%, Vitamin C: 6%, Calcium: 58%, Iron: 2%

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