When it comes to easy, cozy, and budget-friendly meals, this 15 Bean Soup recipe is a forever favorite. A little smoky and surprisingly complex, it’s begging to be served with a hunk of crusty bread and big shavings of Parmesan.
Why You’ll Love This Bean Soup Recipe
- Hearty, Not Heavy. Similar to this Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup and Chickpea Curry, this 15 bean soup recipe is hearty and filling, without being food-coma-inducing.
- Budget-Friendly. Humble, delicious legumes are incredibly economical, giving you more bang for your buck. Like Lentil Soup, this inexpensive recipe that will keep you full and satisfied!
- So! Much! Soup! This bean soup recipe yields a generous portion, so it’s ideal for feeding a large crowd or eating a few days later on a night when you’re short on time to cook. Can you freeze it? You betcha!
- Just Add Bread. Sure, you could make something to serve with your soup (I share some suggestions below!), but I usually just pair it with a loaf of crusty bread, which in every way speaks straight to my heart.
5 Star Review
“This was absolutely phenomenal on a cold day. It was a bowl of pure comfort.”— Amy —
How to Make 15 Bean Soup
- 15 Bean Soup Mix. Look for anything called “bean soup mix.” Some mixes have 13; some have 16. This is the exact bean soup mix I used (if you have some mix left over, try 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.
What Beans are in 15 Bean Soup?
- While the exact beans will vary from brand to brand, 15 bean soup typically contains some mix of navy beans, black beans, red beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, Great Northern beans (or white beans), kidney beans, baby lima and large lima beans. Black-eyed, yellow split peas, and green split peas can also be used.
- 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.
- Bacon. Bacon adds to the soup’s rich, hearty flavor, and the drippings are perfect for sautéing the other ingredients. (I also love the smokiness bacon lends this Shrimp Corn Chowder too.)
- Vegetables. For added flavor and nutritional value. I chose to add the golden soup trifecta of onion, carrots, and celery (a.k.a. mirepoix).
- Ham Bone. Leftover ham bone in your future? Go ahead and add it here! Don’t have one? No biggie. You can make this 15 bean soup without ham bone too.
- 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 smoked paprika. It gives this soup (and this Vegan Potato 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 perfect finish for a touch of creaminess. (It’s also a must for finishing a bowl of Minestrone Soup.)
- Soak the Beans. 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.
- Drain and Rinse. When you are ready to cook the soup, pour off the water and give the beans a good rinse.
- Cook the Bacon. Leave the drippings in the pot.
- Cook the Veggies. Add the beans, ham bone (if using), bay leaf, and broth or water.
- Simmer. Bring the soup to a boil, then partially cover and simmer until the beans begin to break down.
- Simmer More. Stir in the tomatoes and spices, and let simmer uncovered to further develop the flavor.
- Finish. Adjust seasoning as desired, and serve hot with fresh parsley and Parmesan. ENJOY!
- 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 sauté 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 or Baked Chicken Breast for tips.
- 15 Bean Soup with Sausage. Add 1 pound Italian turkey sausage, and sauté it with the onion until it is cooked through. Finish cooking the soup as directed.
- 15 Bean Soup with Hamburger. Add 1 pound lean ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and sauté 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 Recipe. Omit the meat. Season the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil and additional salt to taste (this version is vegan as well!). If you’d like, you can also add kale or spinach.
- To Store. Store leftover bean soup in an airtight 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.
Meal Prep Tip
Heads up! The beans do need to soak overnight. If you forget, I have a quick soak method for you below in the FAQ section.
What to Serve with 15 Bean Soup
- Bread. For delicious dunking, serve this bean soup recipe with Crock Pot Bread or one from your favorite local bakery. It would also pair nicely with either this Mexican Cornbread or Cheesy Jalapeno Cornbread.
- Salad. Let the soup flavors shine with a light and fresh salad like this Anytime Arugula Salad.
- Tater Tots. For a hearty, easy side that everyone will love, serve this soup with some homemade Tater Tots.
- Sandwich. Pair your 15 bean soup with a Chickpea Salad Sandwich or a simple Air Fryer Grilled Cheese.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. A kitchen tool that will cook beside you for years.
- Ladle. Perfect for transferring this soup to bowls and storage containers.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don’t Forget to Soak the Beans! If you do forget, you can use the quick soak method described below, but even that will take about an hour, so it will add to your overall prep time.
- Canned Beans Just Won’t Cut It. There are many, many instances in which canned beans are ideal (Easy Baked Beans, Bean Tostadas), but I really prefer dried beans in this soup because they have a superior flavor and texture. The beans make the soup!
- Cut the Veggies into Uniform Sizes. This ensures that they’re all done cooking at the same time. No one wants crunchy carrots in their soup!
- Add the Parmesan Rind If You Have One. If your Parm has a rind, go ahead and throw it into the soup if you’re not using a ham bone. It will add another layer of umami flavor.
15 Bean Soup
- 1 pound 15 bean soup mix*
- 4 strips of bacon; optional cut into ½-inch wide strips or 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (omit for vegetarian bean soup)
- 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 (use vegetable broth for vegetarian bean soup)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes in their juices (15-ounces)
- 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
- 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 soak overnight at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to cook the soup: drain the beans into a colander and rinse them well. Set aside.
- 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 it aside, leaving the drippings in the pot. If using olive oil instead, simply warm the oil in the pot.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 a pinch of black pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan and parsley.
- *INGREDIENT NOTE: 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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here’s how to quickly soak your beans. (1) Rinse and drain your beans. (2) Then, place in a pot and cover with 3 inches of cold water, and boil for 2 minutes. (3) Turn off the stove, place a lid on the pot, and let the beans sit for about 1 hour. (4) 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.
I’m not a dietician so I encourage you to speak to your health professional for specific questions regarding diet and weight loss. However, generally speaking, bean soup can be part of a healthy diet. Loaded with fiber and protein and coming in at less than 450 calories per serving, this easy bean soup recipe is both filling and healthy.
If you would like to thicken bean soup, there are a few options available for doing so. One is to add a slurry of a few tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with water during the final 10-15 minutes of cooking. You could also remove 1 cup of the beans before serving, puree in a blender, and then stir them back into the soup for a thicker consistency.
YES, this 15 bean soup recipe 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.