Multi Tasking - 15 Bean Soup

Fri. September 30, 2011 12:00 AM
by Brad Mercil

Now that we're well into fall, there's nothing like a nice bowl of hot soup and a big piece of crusty bread. One of my favorites is bean soup. The beans, along with the pork and other vegetables, make a nice hearty broth. Yet, sometimes eating the same bean over and over can get kind of boring. That's how I started working on my 15 bean soup recipe a few years ago. I was in Dominicks's and noticed that they had their 15 bean soup mix on sale. So, I picked up a couple of packages and got to work.

My 15 bean soup is a great multi-tasker as I've served it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have it served up as a breakfast in the photo to the right. A couple of over easy fried eggs, a handful of grated cheese and a few cracks of freshly ground pepper finish off this tasty breakfast. For dinner, I would make some al dente' pasta ladle some soup over the pasta and again top it with grated cheese and pepper. I always make a big batch of this soup so I can freeze several quarts and then thaw out what I need.

It doesn't really matter if you have 12 beans or 17 beans in your soup mix; just make sure that it has a nice variety and the beans are fresh. Most multi bean soup packages will come with a flavor packet. However, we're going to build our own flavors so you can just toss that.

This soup starts the night before by empting your beans into a large non-reactive 6-8 quart bowl. Add 4 quarts of water or more - I usually stop adding water when it's about an inch or two from the top. The beans will absorb quite a bit of water while they are soaking so you want to make sure that they have plenty of water for this process. Place the bowl in cool dry place; loosely cover the beans and allow them to soak for eight to twenty four hours. Thoroughly rinse the beans two or three times.

My old reliable ingredients for bean soup are onion, garlic, celery, carrots, bay leaves, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Then there are a few ingredients that you might not expect. If you've read this column before, you'll know that I prefer to use smoked pork loin for my soups. For me, smoked pork loin brings something to the party that ham, ham bones or ham hocks just can't touch. But if you happen to have a leftover hambone by all means use it. Just be sure to cut way back on the amount of salt that you put into the soup.

Now, for the new ingredients dried lemons, dill weed and chili powder. These ingredients will add the depth of flavor that you're looking for. The dried lemons add a nice mellow tang the dill weed and chili powder add two more layers that complete the flavor profile for your bean soup.

So let's get started....


15 Bean Soup with Smoked Pork Loin



2 packages of 15 bean soup soaked overnight in water
10 - 12 cups filtered water
2 - 3 lbs. of smoked pork loin or ham bone, ham, ham hocks
1 large onion coarsely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
4 to 5 stalks of celery (with leaves) cut in half
3 to 4 medium carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
2 dried lemons
1 tablespoon dill weed
3 to 4 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chili powder
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper


Combine all ingredients in large stock pot with the filtered water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours or until the meat floats to the surface. Remove the meat and celery pieces, discarding the celery. Allow the meat to cool then clean and chop into bite sized pieces. Return meat to the soup and simmer for another 2-4 hours or until the beans have become smooth and creamy. **You may have to let the soup simmer up to 6 hours.

Serve with crackers or crusty bread, over easy fried eggs, and grated Romano or Parmesan cheese. If possible allow the soup to cool and then store over night. 15 Bean soup also freezes well for up to 3 months.


How to dry a lemon

I'll buy extra lemons and will just set them aside in a warm dry place; dry is the key to avoiding mold. The lemons will wrinkle and shrink as the drying process usually takes several weeks. Once they are dried, I store them in small bowl without a lid.