If you’re like me, you love trying out new recipes, but hate spending hours in the kitchen. That’s where the Instant Pot comes in handy – it can help you whip up a delicious meal in no time! This 15 bean soup was one I was weary of- but it surprised me and I bet it will surprise you too!
This delicious soup is healthy, hearty, and perfect for chilly winter days. Plus, it only takes about an hour to make from start to finish. So if you’re looking for an easy weeknight dinner idea, this soup is definitely worth checking out!
I’ll you in on a little secret. Beans are a great, shelf stable ingredient. They will stay good for not months, but years. The provide protein and dietary fiber, help you feel full and keep you regular. An abundance of goodness.
I didn’t experiment with them until the dreaded pandemic started and dried beans were one of the only things left at the grocery store. I found myself with a bag of dry 15 bean soup, lots of beans in the color of the rainbow, but no clue how to prepare them.
PRO TIP: Don’t skip the step of sorting and rinsing your beans. It is very common to find small pebbles in the mix.
Dry beans can be time consuming- like it can take over 24 hours to prepare the suckers. And the trouble with 15 bean soup is that the beans are all different shapes and sizes which just throws another monkey wrench into the situation because they are all going to soften and cook at different rates. They used to be a staple in a slow cooker, but now…
Incomes the Instant Pot- sure you can cook your beans ahead of time, but what if you can just throw them all in the pot and hit a button?
What beans are in 15 bean soup?
It really depends on what brand you are buying, there are many bean varieties, but they all generally contain pinto beans and navy beans. The standard bag generally contains:
- Large lima
- Baby lima
- Green split peas
- Small white
- Small red
- Yellow split peas
- White kidney
- Black bean
The bag is 20 ounces or 2 ½ cups. You can use any blend of dried beans and lentils you like.
Ingredients Beyond Beans
Most versions include onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Any of these can be omitted based on what you have left are far as fresh produce. This is really a soup you can’t mess up if you tried.
- Dry bean mix– the backbone of your soup. Each bag varies slightly, which makes each batch unique.
- Butter or Olive Oil– fat is needed to soften the veggies. Really any neutral like vegetable oil will do.
- Onion, Carrot & Celery– the trinity of soups!
- Fresh Garlic– if garlic is your jam, like it is mine, use more, otherwise cut back. I prefer to use fresh garlic as it produces the best REAL garlic taste, but if you have jarred, it is better than nothing.
- Low Sodium Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth– Reduced sodium gives me more control on the saltiness. Add more at the end for a soupier consistency.
- Dried Bay Leaves– Did you know that a fresh bay leaf is super bitter? Yep, it’s one of the few ingredients best dried and adds a warm and has a unique flavor of pepper and pine.
- Diced Tomatoes– I opt for plain and petite, but ITalian seasoning can’t hurt.
- Protein– Protein is optional, but encouraged for texture and flavor. Cubed ham, ham hocks, bacon, sausage and shredded chicken are my top picks. Just make sure the meat is cooked and drained before adding.
- Apple Cider Vinegar- My secret to soups comes from a professional chef who swears that adding a dash of acidity at the very end will brighten the whole profile of any soup. He is right- for this one I used apple cider vinegar, but plain white vinegar. white wine vinegar or lemon juice will also do the trick.
Other popular additions include corn, peas, green beans, diced potatoes and smoked paprika. Have fun with it!
Bean Soup Seasoning
Bean Soup Seasoning sometimes comes in a little packet inside the bean bag and is mainly salt. If you opt to use it, that is fine, BUT it will not have the same smoky flavor as this version. Homemade allows you to modify the salt as well. I would highly recommend using some salt, as it helps to soften the beans and enhance natural flavors, so don’t omit it altogether.
Cajun seasoning can also be used for great flavor, about 2 teaspoons.
- Coarse Kosher Salt– If using a finer grain, please reduce the salt by at least half, if not more. You can add more, but it’s hard to reduce.
- Celery Salt– another commonly used form of soup salt, it is very fine, but adds a little celery essence. It can be omitted if you like.
- Dried Oregano– Peppery and floral at the same time, we used dried because fresh wasn’t available. The general ratio is 1 tablespoon fresh to 1 teaspoon dried. Make sure your dried version is still fragrant before adding, if not, buy a new jar or increase the volume. Most dried herbs tend to start losing potency around 6 months.
- Black Pepper- A little goes a long way, feel free to use more before serving as it mutes while cooking.
- Liquid Smoke- if you’ve never used this stuff, your mind will be blown! We use it for our pulled pork too. It adds all the elements of aroma and flavor from long smoked foods without actually smoking. Great to use in anything BBQ related, especially BBQ sauce. It (and the vinegar) are my secret ingredients for outstanding soup.
This hearty soup is so tasty, it doesn’t need toppings, but if you insist, we like using sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, Parmesan cheese or any other shredded cheese is also a great touch. Something green like scallions or chives is welcome for fresh crunch and flavor.
And of course crackers- oyster crackers or saltines are traditional. I also just like a crusty piece of bread for dipping and sopping up the sides of the bowl when I am through.
How to Make 15 Bean Soup
Clearly we making this one in an electric pressure cooker, so pull it out and dust it off.
- Use the saute function of your pressure cooker or Instant Pot to saute the veggies until they start to soften. Sweating them release excess water and leaves behind little flavor bombs.
- Add the dry bean mix along with the rest of the ingredients up to tomatoes. Do not add the tomatoes and protein here- this is too long of a cook time and they will literally disintegrate.
- Cook on manual high pressure for 45 minutes and then give it a quick release. Most folks use a natural release, but I found that cooking longer on the front end resulted in more tender beans and less sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Add the tomatoes and cooked meat and set to “keep warm” for 10 minutes so they can heat through.
- Before serving, stir in the apple cider vinegar and taste for salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately with sour cream, plain Greek yogurt or cheese and crackers.
What do I serve with my bean soup?
Storage & Freezing
Sure! After making it, store in a plastic bag or plastic container for up to 6 months. Beans do defrost a little mushier than they went in.
Bean soup stays good in the fridge, chilled, for up to 1 week. Note that soups tend to become muted when chilled, so correct seasoning with salt and pepper before serving again.
Looking for more hearty soups and stews?
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15 Bean Soup
- 20 ounces dry bean mix
- 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion , chopped
- ½ cup carrots , chopped
- ½ cup celery , chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves , minced
- 7 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 14 ounces diced tomatoes , drained
- 1 cup cooked meat*
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Bean Soup Seasoning**:
- Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- Parmesan cheese
- Set the Instant Pot to the sauté function and heat olive oil or butter. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until they start to soften.
- Add the dry bean mix, broth and bay leaves. Stir in the salt, oregano, celery salt, black pepper and Liquid Smoke and give it a good stir so none of the beans are sticking together.
- Put on the lid and seal the vent. Set to manual pressure HIGH for 45 minutes.
- Do a quick release and then add the tomatoes and cooked meat. Return the lid and turn to “keep warm” for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the apple cider vinegar and taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately with sour cream, plain Greek yogurt or Parmesan cheese.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!