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 15 Bean Soup at the grocery store but never picked it up because you weren't quite sure what to do with it?
Turns out, there are lots of ways you can turn that bag of dried beans into delicious, flavorful soup! I love using the slow cooker for bean soup, especially when I'll be out of the house all day. But if you prefer a pressure cooker, I've got you covered too.
Reasons to Buy Dried Bean Blends
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.
Dried beans blends, like 15 bean soup, are:
- Very affordable
- Provide a flavorful, protein-rich blend of beans
- Sold in most grocery stores
- Easy to make in your slow cooker or pressure cooker
- Versatile - Make it vegetarian or with meat
- Makes a big batch of soup (8+ servings)
- Leftovers freeze well
What is 15 Bean Soup Mix?
Buying a bag of 15 Bean soup means you get a blend of dried beans with different flavors, textures and sizes.
The blend usually includes: 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.
This blend of beans makes delicious soup and is also really good in chili.
Add More Veggies
You can make a basic vegetarian version of this soup with just onion/celery/carrots + the bag of beans. However, you can also add extra veggies for more flavor.
In a slow cooker, I add most types of vegetables half way through the cooking time (potatoes) or at the very end of the cooking time (greens) - otherwise the veggies get over-cooked and mushy.
I wait to add tomatoes until the very end of the cooking time because acidic ingredients, like tomatoes, can prevent beans from softening.
If you'd like to add more veggies to the soup (other than onion/carrot/celery) here are some options:
Veggies to add at the beginning of the cooking time
Bell peppers, finely chopped
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
Veggies to add halfway through the cooking time
2 to 4 golden potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large turnip or rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Veggies to add in the last hour of cooking
1 can petite-diced tomatoes
2 cups thinly shredded cabbage
Veggies to add when soup is completely cooked
2 cups frozen spinach or kale
A few handfuls fresh kale leaves, torn into small pieces
1 to 2 cups frozen corn
My favorite flavor combination is bean soup and smoked pork (like ham hocks). It's hard to resist! However, adding any sort of meat to this soup gives the soup richer flavor.
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.
Smoked sausage - Bite-sized chunks of cured, pre-cooked sausage (like kielbasa) add rich flavor this soup and taste delicious with beans. I add the sausage in the last 30 to 60 minutes of cooking, otherwise I find that the sausage loses some of it's flavor when left in the slow cooker for too long.
Ham - Cut thick slices of ham into small pieces and add to the soup at the beginning or end of the cooking time.
Cooked Bacon - You can add cooked bacon to the soup for a subtle meaty flavor, or wait and crumble crispy bacon over your bowl of cooked soup.
Chicken thighs - Add 2 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs at the beginning of the cooking time and then shred the chicken into the beans when the soup is done (chicken breast will overcook and become dry).
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 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.
It's your choice. Some brands of 15 bean soup come with a spice packet that you can add before the soup is cooked. You can also just add your own blend of spices. I usually add a few teaspoons of smoked paprika and coriander. You could also choose to add cumin, chili powder, oregano and/or garlic powder.
Sauteing the veggies is optional. It might add more flavor, but the soup is still pretty darn good if you just throw everything into the slow cooker or pressure cooker at once.