Warm up with a bowl of this thick, hearty 15 Bean Soup … it’s easy to make, super healthy, and so delicious!
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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 super thick, packed with hearty beans and healthy veggies, and it will stick to your ribs. Total comfort food!
Are you ready to dig in? Then keep reading for all the delicious details and a step-by-step recipe.
15 Bean Soup (Vegetarian + Vegan)
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.
The good news is that even if you never cook with dried beans, it’s still super easy to make this recipe. You just need to purchase a dried bean soup mix, which you can find in almost any grocery store.
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 (more info on that below), 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 version is 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!
Is 15 Bean Soup Healthy?
Yes, this easy 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.
Ingredients for Mixed Bean Soup
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.)
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.
What Kind of Beans are in 15 Bean Soup Mix?
The beans in dried soup mixes vary brand-to-brand. Each package contains at least 15 types of beans, lentils, and peas. Here are some of the varieties you might find:
- Pinto Beans
- Great Northern Beans
- Large, Baby, Green, or Speckled 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
- Red or White Kidney Beans
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!
Do keep in mind that you’ll need 20-ounces of beans for this recipe, which is about four cups.
What Else Can You Add to this Bean Soup?
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.
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.
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.
Soaking the Beans
Speaking of beans, the first thing you need to do is soak them. Soaking the beans helps them cook faster and more evenly with fewer split or broken beans.
To soak the beans, start by placing them in a large bowl. Dried beans sometimes have little clumps of dirt or small stones that sneak through the cleaning process, so use your hands to pick through the beans. If you find any broken beans, bean skins, etc., you can remove those as well.
After you’ve sorted through the beans, add enough water to cover the beans by about two inches. Then let the beans soak overnight or for about eight hours.
Once the beans have soaked overnight, remove anything that floats to the top (like bean skins or damaged beans). Drain the beans in a colander, then rinse them with fresh water and set aside.
Do You Have to Soak the Beans before Cooking?
As mentioned above, soaking the beans overnight helps them cook faster and move evenly. However, if you forget, you can soak the beans for less time or skip soaking altogether. The soup will take longer to cook though, and you’ll probably need to add more water. Just keep an eye on the soup as it cooks, and add an extra cup or two of water as needed.
Making the Soup
Once the beans have soaked, you can start making the soup. You will need a large soup pot or dutch oven.
Begin by sauteing the onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil. Season the veggies lightly with salt and pepper, then cook them just until the onions start to turn translucent. It should only take five to seven minutes or so.
Next, you’re going to add the garlic, smoked paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes. If you like spicy food, feel free to add extra crushed red pepper. You could also add a jalapeño (or other hot pepper) when cooking the veggies.
Cook this mixture, stirring constantly, until the garlic and paprika are fragrant (about one minute).
After you’ve added the spices, add the beans to the soup, as well as the dried herbs (thyme, basil, oregano, and bay leaves) and diced tomatoes.
Adding lots of salt while cooking beans can make them tough. So instead of using vegetable broth for this soup, you’ll add eight cups of water. The little bit of salt you added while seasoning the veggies and from the canned tomatoes is okay, but do not add any extra salt at this point.
Don’t worry! The soup will still have lots of flavor from the beans cooking, tomatoes, and herbs and spices. And obviously, you’ll add salt before serving.
Bring this mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot partially, then simmer until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. It should take about one-and-a-half to two hours.
This is a thick soup, so keep an eye on the soup as it cooks just in case it gets too dry (especially if you didn’t soak the beans). Add extra water if needed, or if you prefer a thinner soup.
How Long Do Beans Take to Cook?
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.
How Do You Know When Beans Are Done Cooking?
You’ll know the 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.
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.
Finishing the Soup
To finish the soup, you’ll stir in chopped parsley and 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.
You’ll also want to season the soup really generously with salt (and pepper). Keep in mind that this recipes makes a lot, and that you didn’t use much salt while cooking it. You may need more than you think.
And that’s it … your delicious and hearty 15 Bean Soup is ready to eat!
How to Store Bean Soup
This vegetarian Mixed Bean Soup recipe makes a lot! Unless you’re feeding a crowd, you may be wondering how to store it.
You can store this soup in the refrigerator for about three to 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.
What to Serve with Vegetarian Bean Soup
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, or my favorite homemade Garlic Bread … or even better, Cheesy Garlic Bread. Yum!
More Delicious Recipes To Try
Are you looking for more mouthwatering soups? Then you’ll love these recipes:
- Minestrone Soup
- Creamy Kale and Potato Soup
- Easy Asian Dumpling Soup
- Beer Cheese Soup
- Mushroom Barley Soup
- Easy Lentil Soup
- Find all my soup recipes here!
Learn how to make the BEST 15 Bean Soup ... this wonderful Mixed Bean Soup recipe is easy, hearty, and so delicious!
15 Bean Soup Mix(about 4 cups of beans)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 2 large stalks celery, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 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
- 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 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 1/2 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!
Do you need to soak the beans? Soaking the beans overnight will help them cook faster and move evenly (less split beans). If you forget, you can soak the beans for less time or skip soaking altogether. The soup will take longer to cook though, and you'll probably need to add more water.
Limit salt while cooking beans. Adding salt while cooking dried beans can make them tough. So even though I prefer using vegetable broth when preparing most soups, in this case it's better to use water for more tender beans.
Season soup well before serving. Because you're using water to cook the beans, the soup will be relatively bland when the beans finish cooking. For best results, make sure to add lots of salt before serving to bring out all the flavors.
How long do beans take to cook? If you soak the beans, they should take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to become tender. It can really vary though, depending on how old the beans are, how long you soaked them, etc.
Storing the Soup. This recipe makes lots of soup. If you have leftovers, it will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. You may also freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 months.