Learn how to make the BEST 15 Bean Soup! This delicious Mixed Bean Soup is super delicious, thick, and hearty ... total comfort food that's actually good for you, plus vegetarian and vegan friendly!
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Winter is here, and it feels like it. We even got some rare snow in Dallas this weekend!
While it was no snow storm (more of a light dusting which melted immediately ... ha), I for one was super excited. And I celebrating by getting out my soup pot to make my favorite bean soup.
This yummy 15 Bean Soup is the perfect recipe for a chilly day. It's easy to make, super thick, packed with hearty beans and healthy veggies, and it will stick to your ribs. Total comfort food!
Are you ready to dig into a bowl right now? Then keep reading for all the delicious details and a step-by-step recipe.
About the Recipe
This tasty Mixed Bean Soup is one of those classic recipes that was invented due to necessity ... you know, as a way to use up bits and bobs of leftover dried beans.
There are a few things that I love about this recipe that I know you'll enjoy, too. First of all, it's super thrifty and budget-friendly ... beans are cheap! It's also one of those rare recipes that's very good for you, but it will also fill you up (and keep you full). And of course, it tastes great, too!
15 Bean Soup is typically made with ham or sausage, but this plant-based version is totally meatfree. You don't have to be vegetarian or vegan to enjoy it though, because it's so hearty that even meat lovers love it, as my husband will attest!
This easy vegetarian soup uses common ingredients found in most grocery stores. Here's what you'll need:
- Dried Bean Soup Mix
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Onion, Carrots, and Celery
- Fresh Garlic
- Smoked Paprika
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Canned Diced Tomatoes
- Dried Spices: Thyme, Basil, Oregano, and Bay Leaves
- Fresh Parsley
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Salt (I prefer Kosher salt) and Pepper
You'll need a 20-ounce package of 15 bean soup mix for this recipe. The most common brand is Hurst's HamBeens, which is what I used for this recipe. It's available in many stores or online. If you're vegetarian or vegan, don't worry ... there's no ham in the mix!
Dried bean soup mixes typically come with a seasoning packet, and these packets are usually filled with lots of indecipherable ingredients ... so we're not going to use that. Instead, this soup is seasoned with a variety of dried herbs and spices.
I especially love the smoked paprika in this vegetarian Bean Soup. It adds a wonderful smokey flavor, no ham or meat needed.
Can't find a 15 bean mix?
You can substitute any combination of dried mixed beans for this Multi Bean Soup recipe. Simply buy a few different varieties to create your own mix, or substitute another bean mix, like 16 bean, 12 bean, 7 bean, etc. My local Kroger carries a 16 bean soup mix that I used once while testing this soup, and it worked just fine!
Just keep in mind that you'll need 20-ounces of beans for this recipe, which is about four cups.
How to Make 15 Bean Soup
This hearty Dried Bean Soup is super simple to make, so don't let the long cook time put you off. It's mostly hands off time while the beans cook.
You'll find a detailed recipe card at this end of the article, but here's an overview of the steps:
- Soak the beans. Soaking the beans helps them cook faster and more evenly with fewer split or broken beans. If you forget to soak the beans, no problem. You'll just need to cook the soup a bit longer and will probably need extra water.
- Saute the veggies + add spices. Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot. When the onions start to turn translucent, add the garlic, smoked paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook this mixture, stirring constantly, until the garlic and paprika are fragrant.
- Add the beans, herbs, and diced tomatoes.
- Stir in the water. After you add the water, stir everything together really well, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover the pot partially, and cook the soup until the beans are tender (stirring occasionally). It should take about one-and-a-half to two hours. If the soup gets too dry as it cooks, just add a little extra water.
- Finish the soup. Once the beans are tender, you'll season the soup really generously with salt and pepper, and stir in chopped parsley and fresh lemon juice. The fresh herbs and bright, acidic lemon juice really brighten up the flavors of this long-simmering soup. If you're out of lemon juice, try adding a splash of vinegar instead.
And that's it ... your delicious and hearty Vegetarian 15 Bean Soup is ready to eat!
Tip: there are a wide variety of beans used in this soup, and they may all take slightly different lengths of time to cook. Make sure to try a few different beans to make sure everything is done.
What Else Can You Add to this Soup? (Variations)
This soup is fairly flexible, and it's easy to change up the seasonings to create a different flavor profile (Cajun spice is popular). You could even go in a chili direction by adding chili powder, cumin, etc.
If you like spicy food, feel free to add extra crushed red pepper. You could also add a jalapeño (or another hot pepper) when cooking the veggies. Smokey chipotle peppers would also be delish.
If you want to add a meaty component, but still keep this recipe vegan, try adding some veg Italian sausage. I like Field Roast or Tofurky. I'd recommend sauteing the sausage separately, then adding it towards the end (about half an hour before the beans are done cooking).
And of course, you can add other veggies, like greens, bells peppers, etc. Just keep in mind the long cooking time. Anything other than tough root vegetables should be added within the last 30 to 45 minutes.
If the finished soup tastes bland, seasoning it with something fresh will brighten the flavors ... like fresh lemon juice and herbs. And don't forget to season generously with salt.
How to Store Bean Soup
This vegetarian Mixed Bean Soup recipe makes a lot! Unless you're feeding a crowd, you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for about four days. It's a great soup to make on Sunday for meal prep, and then you can enjoy it during the week. Change things up by adding different toppings, like fresh herbs, sour cream, cheese, avocado, etc.
The soup can also be frozen in an airtight container, and it will keep for a couple months. If you freeze it in individual containers, then it's a great way to have a quick healthy meal on hand for busy days.
This soup is pretty hearty, and it can definitely stand on its own if you want to keep things simple.
I like serving it with a light salad though, like my Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad, Massaged Kale Salad, or Quick Chopped Salad. It's also delicious with crusty bread for dipping. Try it with my Beer Bread or my favorite homemade Garlic Bread ... or even better, Cheesy Garlic Bread. Yum!
Are you looking for more mouthwatering soups? Then you'll love these recipes:
- Vegetable Stew
- Vegan Irish Stew
- Minestrone Soup
- Creamy Kale and Potato Soup
- Easy Asian Dumpling Soup
- Beer Cheese Soup
- Mushroom Barley Soup
- Easy Lentil Soup
- Vegetable Soup
- Find all my soup recipes here!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Yes, 15 Bean Soup is good for you. Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber, which means this soup will fill you up and keep you full. They contain other important vitamins and minerals, as well. This soup is also full of fresh, healthy veggies, and it's vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, and gluten free ... so pretty much anyone can enjoy it.
The beans in dried soup mixes vary brand-to-brand. Each package contains at least 15 types of beans, lentils, and peas. Some of the varieties you might find are Pinto Beans, Great Northern Beans, Lima Beans, Yellow Eye Beans, Black Eyed Peas, Garbanzo Beans, Green or Yellow Split Peas, Whole Green Peas, Cranberry Beans, Small Red Beans, Small White Beans, Pink Beans, Navy Beans, Black Beans, Lentils, and Red or White Kidney Beans.
Dried beans can take anywhere from one to three hours to cook, depending on a number of factors. First of all, the fresher your beans are, the faster they will cook. Soaking the beans also helps them cook quicker (and more evenly). For this recipe, the beans should take about one-and-a-half to two hours to become tender.
You'll know beans are done cooking when they're firm, but tender (not mushy or falling apart). The best way to test them is by tasting a few beans. Start doing this before the beans should be done cooking (so for this recipe, at about an hour and fifteen minutes). That will help you gauge how much longer the beans have to go.
Soaking beans helps them cook faster and move evenly. However, if you forget, you can soak the beans for less time or skip soaking altogether. They'll just take longer to cook, and you'll probably need to add more water.
15 Bean Soup
- 1 (20-ounce) package
15 Bean Soup Mix(or 4 cups of mixed beans)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, sliced ½-inch thick
- 2 large stalks celery, sliced ½-inch thick
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- ⅓ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- ½ lemon, juiced
- Place beans in a large bowl and pick over, removing any clumps of dirt or small stones.
- Add enough water so that there's a couple inches of water above the beans. Let soak 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain beans, then rinse with fresh water. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat.
- Add onions, carrots, and celery. Lightly season with salt and pepper, then cook until onions start to turn translucent, stirring frequently (about 5 to 7 minutes).
- Stir garlic, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes into veggies. Cook for 1 minute, or until veggies are well-coated and fragrant, stirring constantly.
- Add beans, 8 cups water, diced tomatoes, thyme, basil, oregano, and bay leaves to veggies.
- Bring soup to a boil, then partially cover pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook soup for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more water if soup becomes too dry.
- Stir parsley and lemon juice into soup, then season very generously with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve soup hot. Enjoy!