Slow cooker 15 bean soup is a flavorful, budget-friendly family meal. This helpful recipe includes both vegetarian and meat options, plus instructions for
Instant Pot 15 bean soup.
Have you seen bags of 15 Bean Soup at the grocery store but never pick it up because you aren't quite sure how to cook the beans?
I'm here to help, and show you how easy it is to turn that colorful bag of dried beans into delicious, flavorful soup. This recipe includes both meat and vegetarian options so you can customize the soup any way you like.
The most common blend of dried beans I see at the grocery store is Hurst's HamBeens 15 bean soup, but it's not the only blend. There are also 13 bean soup blends out there. Really, any dried bean soup mix will work with this recipe.
I love using the slow cooker for bean soup, especially when I'll be out of the house all day.
If you prefer a pressure cooker, I've got you covered too. Instructions for Instant Pot 15 bean soup are also included below.
Looking for a really quick and easy soup recipe? Try 10-Minute refried bean soup.
The main ingredient for this recipe is a store-bought 15 bean soup blend. The blend usually includes some combination of Northern, navy, white kidney, pinto, large lima, baby lima, yellow eye, garbanzo, green split pea, yellow split pea, lentil, kidney, cranberry, small white, pink bean, small red, black.
In addition to dried beans, you'll need
- Onion, celery, carrot, garlic
- Fresh parsley or thyme
- Chili powder and smoked paprika
- Red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar - optional, but a few tablespoons brightens the flavor of the soup
- One 15-oz can petite-diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
- Frozen spinach
- Frozen corn
- Ham hock or ham bone
- Cooked sausage (try kielbasa)
- Diced ham
- Cooked bacon
Ham hocks - Ham hocks are chunks of cured and smoked pork that include bone, collagen and a little bit of meat. Added at the beginning of the cooking process, a ham hock adds smoky, salty flavor and a little bit of meat to the soup. So good!
When the soup has finished cooking, remove the ham hock and use a fork or knife to shred the meat off the bone. You can then add the shredded ham back to the soup.
Ham hocks are usually sold pre-packaged in the butcher section of grocery stores. They often come in packs of two; use one for this soup and freeze the other ham hock for later. You can also use ham hocks to make Crockpot Split Pea Soup.
Ham bone: The bone that is leftover from a bone-in or spiral ham can also add rich meaty flavor to soup. After serving ham, save the bone and add it to soup at the beginning of the cooking process.
Step-by-Step Photos & Instructions
Step 1: For the best slow cooker results, soak the beans overnight in water.
Step 2: Saute onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a saute pan.
Step 3: Combine the sautéed veggies, soaked beans, fresh water, salt and parsley or thyme in the slow cooker. Cook for 5 to 6 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW.
Step 4: If using an electric pressure cooker, combine the same ingredients in your pressure cooker. Cook soaked beans for 20 minutes or un-soaked beans for 40 minutes.
Meat Option #1: For both the slow cooker and pressure cooker, add a ham hock or ham bone before the soup cooks.
Meat Option #2: Add cooked sausage (like sliced kielbasa) after the soup has cooked. You can also add diced ham or cooked bacon.
Veggie options: Add canned tomatoes and/or frozen spinach or corn towards the end of the cooking process, after the beans are tender.
Herbs and Spices: It's better to add spices and fresh herbs after the soup has cooked. The flavor of herbs and spices can be dulled during the long, slow cooking process.
For detailed instructions and ingredient amounts, see the recipe card below
FAQ About Slow Cooker Bean Soup
You don't have to, but I really recommend soaking the beans before making slow cooker 15 Bean Soup. Pre-soaking insures that all of the beans will cook evenly within a reasonable amount of time.
When I use my pressure cooker, I don't always bother pre-soaking the beans. Pressure cookers do a great job of cooking un-soaked beans.
To soak the beans the night before (or at least 6 hours before), combine the bag of beans and 6 to 8 cups water in a large bowl, making sure the beans are covered by at least an inch or two of water. Add 1 tablespoon salt (or 2 tablespoons kosher salt). Soak overnight (or at least 6 hours). Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.
Not necessarily. Cooking the whole bag at once makes a hearty, thick bean soup. However, you can follow this same recipe but add only ½ the bag of beans if you prefer.
Using less beans will make a soup with more broth. Or you can add more vegetables or more meat to the soup.
Absolutely! Instant Pot instructions are included in the recipe card below.
Some brands of 15 bean soup come with a spice packet that you can add to the soup. I like adding a few spices myself and also adding the spice packet included with the soup. This gives the soup the most flavor.
Sautéing the veggies helps soften the vegetables and adds more flavor to the soup. This is especially important for the onion, which can stay slightly undercooked even if it's in a slow cooker all day. It's less important to saute the carrot and celery.
As a short-cut, you can lightly coat the diced onion with oil and microwave it for 2 to 3 minutes before adding it to the slow cooker. This will help soften the onion.
More Slow Cooker Soup Recipes
Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup
Use your slow cooker to turn 15 bean soup mix into a flavorful, budget-friendly family meal. See the notes below for Instant Pot instructions.
For the best results, don't forget to soak the beans for at least 6 hours before making this soup in a slow cooker. Un-soaked beans take longer to cook and don't always get as tender.
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 6 hours
- Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: slow cooker
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 1 bag (13 to 20 ounces) of dried 15 bean soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste after the soup is cooked
- 4 sprigs of parsley or thyme, plus more to garnish the soup
- 8 cups water (you can use broth instead of water)
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- Seasoning packet: some dried bean blends come with a seasoning packet. I like to use the packet to add more flavor.
- 2 cups frozen spinach
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 can (15 oz) crushed or petite tomatoes
- Ham bone or ham shank
- Cooked, sliced sausage
- Diced ham
- Cooked bacon
Soak the beans overnight (or at least 6 hours): In a large bowl, cover the dried beans with approximately 6 to 8 cups water (cover by 2-inches). Add 1 tablespoon salt (or 2 tablespoons kosher salt). Soak overnight (or at least 6 hours). Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.
Make the Soup
- In a saute pan over medium or medium-low heat, saute the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds more.
- Transfer the sautéed veggies to a slow cooker. Add the beans, water, salt and parsley or thyme.
- If you're adding the optional ham bone or ham shank, add it now.
- Cook on HIGH for 5 to 8 hours. After 5 hours the beans will likely be cooked and tender but still have some firmness. Cooking the soup for 6 hours or longer makes the beans softer and creamier. If cooking the soup on LOW, it will probably take closer to 8 hours.
- When the beans are tender, stir in the chili powder and smoked paprika. If the beans came with a spice packet, add half of the packet and then taste the soup. You can add the whole spice packet if you want.
- If adding tomatoes, spinach or corn add them now.
- If adding pieces of ham or slices of sausage, add it now (you can saute the sausage first, for more flavor).
- Add the vinegar. Add salt to taste.
- Let the soup simmer in the slow cooker for another 5 minutes or so until the added veggies and/or meat are warmed.
- The soup will have more broth right when it's done and will thicken the longer it sets.
In a slow cooker, I prefer to cook bean soup on HIGH because it ensures that the beans will become tender within a reasonable amount of time. You can cook this bean soup on LOW, but the cooking time becomes longer and more variable.
You can serve 15 bean soup with toppings such as hot sauce, sour cream or grated cheese.
Leftovers keep really well for up to 5 days. You can freeze the soup for up to 3 months.
Instant Pot Instructions
This recipe was tested in a 6-quart pressure cooker.
When using a pressure cooker, pre-soaking the beans is optional.
Step 1: In the Instant Pot, saute the onion, celery and carrot in olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds more.
Step 2: Add the beans, water, salt and parsley or thyme. (8 cups of water will make a brothy soup, 6 cups will make a thicker soup). If adding the optional ham shank or ham bone, add it now.
Step 3: Un-soaked beans can be cooked for 40 minutes, natural release. Soaked beans can be cooked for just 20 minutes, natural release.
Step 4: After the natural release, open the lid and stir in the spices listed in the ingredient list and add the spice packet that comes with the dried beans. Add the vinegar, and add salt to taste.
Step 5: If adding the optional frozen spinach and/or canned tomatoes, add now. If adding diced ham or slices of sausage, add it now (you can saute the sausage first, for more flavor).
Step 6: Let the soup simmer for another 5 minute or so until the added veggies and/or meat are warmed.
Keywords: 15 bean soup, dried bean soup, slow cooker bean soup, Instant Pot 15 bean soup,