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!
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 ½ 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.