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"15 Bean Soup"

I've always wanted to try a package of that "15 Bean Soup". It's 1 1/4 pounds of dried assorted beans, with a "flavoring packet" included. Has anyone tried it, is it any good?
I wonder if it can stand on it's own as a side dish? Worth buying for a soup?

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  1. I've had it although not just made with the 'flavoring packet" and I have no idea what that packet is. I buy the 15 bean soup, toss whatever that packet is, and make it using the last of the ham when I have cooked a ham. I clean off the bone of the ham as best as I can as I am slicing off the ham, naturally, but I can never get it all off of course. Depending on how salty, I will use up to a cup of the pan juices, the ham bone, 3 cups of chicken stock, and the last 2-3 slices of ham. I toss that in the crock pot with the rinsed beans and let it cook all day. I know people that like the beans cooked per the instructions with the little packet just fine, but I suspect it is mostly salt. Yeah, I know the ham has salt, but to me that's worthwhile salt! Usually I tie up some fresh herbs like bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and cook with the beans. Whatever I have to hand. The bean mix is a nice mix and easier than trying to keep track of 3/4 of a bag each of several kinds of beans.

    2 Replies
      1. re: GertieHound

        I just pulled a container of 15-bean soup out of the freezer. I made it largely as described above but added a can of tomatoes and used kielbasa instead of ham. I also don't remember the exact spices, but there was no added salt (the sausage and tomatoes had plenty), and I really don't think you can go wrong with whatever appeals to you and/or whatever you have in the house.

      2. Different beans will have different rates of cooking....

        6 Replies
        1. re: jaykayen

          Very true, I'd hardly call it gourmet, but mixed beans is a good way to stretch your protein dollars. They must have chosen with an eye to that because I have never had any of them turn up not cooked when I do them in the crock pot.

          1. re: jaykayen

            I agree, that is why I cook beans separately and stay away from the mixes. By the time all of the beans are cooked, some are reduced to mush, which some people might like, but I don't. It is just as cheap to stretch the food dollar with one or two types of beans in a dish. Probably cheaper, actually.
            If I want to do a multiple bean dish, I usually go for the canned varieties, rinse before adding.

            1. re: wyogal

              Not only do the cooking times vary, but the colors bleed and blanch. I found an online chart of bean cooking times for the pressure cooker. What I now do is pick 3-4 different colors/shapes of beans with about the same cooking time, then soak them separately. I put a flat steamer insert into the pressure cooker (filling the bottom with canning rings or metal cookie cutters would work too) I have several empty 28oz tomato cans that have been washed and de-labeled, Put one kind of soaked bean in each, top with water, and nestle into pressure cooker.

              1. re: greygarious

                How much water do you put into each can of beans?

                1. re: John E.

                  I start with 1/2-3/4 cup of each sort of dried beans. Once soaked, and in the can, I fill the can to about an inch from the top, so it doesn't spill over when cooking. Then I put a half inch of water in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Usually there is no need to wash the pressure cooker, just dump the water.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Thanks. I too used to use the 15 bean soup packages of beans. Then I made the same soup with just one kind of bean and found it a little boring. Your method sounds easy.

          2. After soaking overnight and simmering 2+ hours-- I don't think I'd be able to tell. But I'd hate to have some whole beans and some sludge!

            1. It's a favorite pantry soup for us in the winter. I make it with homemade stock (it rocks with smoked turkey stock) and either leftover ham or some sort of smoked sausage. I add a can of diced tomatoes and a beer towards the end of cooking.

              The beer makes all the difference.

              1. The flavoring packet is horrible - lots of salt, a few spices, and an artificial textured vegetable protein flavor. Toss it, and use a good home-made or bought stock/base. The beans look very attractive in the bag, but the color contrasts disappear in cooking. By the time the soup is done, the lentils and other small legumes are mushy. Even if you cook a bunch of different colors of bean separately, they are no longer as colorful as the dry version. Side dish no, acceptable for soup, but better in concept than execution.

                6 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  Yes, I think it is the colors that appeal to me--I suppose a homemade version would be way silly to attempt. It is a nice concept though, yes.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    << better in concept than execution. >>

                    +1 the texture for me was just off putting. Did my own tasty broth but sludgy lentils with beans in varying degrees of doneness and pretty hard chickpeas, blech!

                    1. re: greygarious

                      Sounds like the concept is largely a marketing one - what looks colorful and attractive on the store shelf. A cook with a knowledge of how the beans will cook, will probably choose just one kind, or at most 3 that provide a pleasing contrast in the final product.

                      Traditional bean soups and stews are probably a better guide. I can't off hand think of one (Indian, Spanish, Italian etc) that uses 2 or more different beans or legumes in one dish.

                      OK, I can think of one exception, Fanesca. That's an Ecuadorian soup that is prepared during Holy Week. It uses multiple grains and beans, the number representing the 12 Apostles (more or less). But even that uses contrasting legumes like cannellini beans, green peas, fava beans, lima beans; not a dozen different colors of dry navy beans.

                      1. re: paulj

                        Using this idea, you could create a whole family history/family tree soup adding a new variety with each kid!

                        1. re: paulj

                          While the 15 bean soup concept is attractive in the package, it's not so hot in the pot.

                          You'd literally have to cook many of the 15 beans separately, to maintain color and texture in the final product.

                          Btw, the commercial blends (I've seen Jack Rabbit and Goya brands, although those usually doesn't come with the worthless seasoning packet) are a mix of beans, not just different colors of navy beans.

                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                            All the different beans cooking at different rates is something I think about everytime I make this soup, and yet I still make it at least twice a year. Why? Because it makes a good soup. The only real problem that develops is the skins that come off the big lima beans. Some of the smaller beans fall apart to make the soup a bit thicker, but that's part of the reason I like the soup. (Other 'bean' soups that I make are usually done with a single variety of bean or lenil. My favorite bean recently has been the Mayocoba yellow bean.

                      2. I make a version of this soup for a friend of mine, and she loves it - but I make it using the Goya 16 Bean Soup product, and they have a pretty good recipe on the back of the package. There is no "flavoring packet" in the Goya product.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JimboWoodside

                          Yes, and Bob's Red Mill has a couple of bean mixes as well.

                        2. I bought that soup mix before (I got HamBeens brand) and its true, the colors fade as the beans cook so although it tastes ok, it's not much to look at so I add diced celery, onions, carrots, parsely & dried thyme...sometimes dried ancho chiles that I've soaked & pureed. The packet is a ham bouillion. I'd rather use a piece of smoked turkey neck, pork neck bones or ham hock or other such.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Cherylptw

                            I agree. It is what it is. Adding other colorful things helps with the visual issues you might have.

                            I forgot to add earlier that I discard the flavoring packet if the brand I bought has one.

                          2. As everyone has said, it's very good, but the seasoning packet's horrible.

                            I make my own, of sorts -- when I buy beans, the last bits often won't fit into the jars I store dry goods in, so I put all those bits (along with wheatberries, brown rice, etc.) into another jar. When it's full, I make soup.

                            1. Toss the packet, use a ham bone and some stock, and fresh herbs/carrot/onion, etc., as described above. Also, juice a lemon right at the very end to add to the soup. It makes an enormous, delicious difference,

                              1. As several people have posted, use the recipe on the bag of beans minus the seasoning packet. Use a ham bone, smoked pork shank or even sausage and chicken stock, but skip the seasoning packet. I usually use the recipe from Hurst's regarless of the brand of the bag of 15(or more) bean soup mix I may have purchased. I usually also add chopped carrots and celery in addition to the onions. http://www.hurstbeans.com/recipes/252...

                                1. I toss the packet, too. One of the brands I bought listed MSG as a big ingredient, and MSG isn't in the beans, so it must be in the packet. (Before anybody falls off their chair, I don't like MSG because it tastes metallic and I can taste it in darned near anything)

                                  Anyway -- my family and I like the creamy, hearty texture that the lentils add when they cook down...ham bone, and lots of other veg. Almost always throw a big handful or two of kale into it.

                                  Cheap, tasty, and very healthy -- nice to find all in one pot.

                                  By the way -- if there's a Honey Baked Ham store near you, you can usually buy hambones for a few dollars. And THOSE are some good bones.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    I had no idea Honey Baked sells its bones--
                                    If I try this soup I'll get the Goya if I can find it, and gussy it up well.

                                    1. re: blue room

                                      Honeybaked freezes the bones remaining from the hams they sell by the slice. I always ask if they have one that's not yet frozen (solid) - sometimes they do. There's a good amount of meat remaining on those bones and I prefer to remove it before freezing the bone, which I am not always planning on using right away. If you are using a frozen one for soup, do take the trouble to defrost it first. It's hard to tell how much is meat and how much is bone. I used to just put the frozen one in the pot and simmer away - until the time one of them turned out to have well over a pound of meat remaining. So much came off that it would have been ham stew. I had to run out for more split peas, onions, and carrots - when I was done, I had nearly 4 gallons of pea soup. The chest freezer was full of quart containers for several years.

                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                      This makes an excellent base for what my family calls 'garbage soup' -- it's a great way to use up all the odd little bits of leftover veggies, sausages, etc., hanging out in the fridge that aren't enough to be a meal on their own.

                                      The name comes because they came to the realization that I frequently make this soup when I'm cleaning out the fridge...and what doesn't go in the garbage, goes in the soup.

                                      (Nothing rancid or dodgy, mind....the homemade penicillin goes straight to the trash)

                                    3. Wow, not only have I never heard of this product but i didn't really thing there were that many kinds of beans! (Silly, I know)

                                      1. I love 15 bean soup, not only tasty but pretty healthy. I soak the beans overnight then put in my crockpot with diced carrots, 1 hr on high and then 7 to 8 hours on low. I add beef broth (or fr.onion soup mix if not broth) to the crock. I buy the cajun one so I add the spices then. Near the end of cooking I take onions and green and red peppers and saute , adding garlic to saute when almost done. Add saute to crock. I brown some Italian sausage ( if not cooked , cook first then brown) I then add the sausage sliced to the crock. I also add stewed tomatoes with the juice at that time. Cook for the remaining hour. I always prefer to let soup "rest" overnight but I do eat this one when done. I top the soup with grated parm cheese. I also sometimes if I have it add spinach, frozen, canned , fresh is fine just drain the water.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: gretastein

                                          Exactly, gretastein,
                                          After soaking overnight (the beans, not me):
                                          I started the Cajun one this morning and have been tasting all evening. Celery, carrots, onion, bells, garlic, tomato were added, along with ham steak and bacon. I added a little cayenne and. This is only the second time I've made it. Please, oh please do not forget the lemon!

                                        2. I bought, for the first time, beef soup bones for the purpose of roasting them and adding them to this 15 bean soup. The beans are soaking now and somewhat to my dismay, the "gigantic" beans have already split in half and don't look good at all. I wonder if I should remove them? Now I'm wondering if I should *mouth watering* roast the bones, enjoy the marrow as suggested in the replied postings, then toss them in the beans for the cooking process, or rather, put them in raw. So confused, and don't want to miss an opportunity to learn and enjoy new flavors.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: BIteMe76

                                            Definately roast the bones and I'd eat the marrow. But you should pour the water off the beans andxsavexthem in the refrigeratir. You are soakng he beans too soon if using beef bones. The beef bones should be simmered for at least 8 hours. You should more or less follow this recipe for beef stock if you don't know how to make it:


                                            It is Julia Child's recipe from a blog, I just did a quick search to come up with it.

                                            15 bean soup is usually made with a ham bone but if you make homemade beef stock it should turn out great too.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              I decided to save the bones for a future use. I used chunked ham instead. I discarded the flavoring packet and seasoned with fresh rosemary, sage, bay leaves, Worcestershire, black and white pepper. I sent some to my grandmother by way of my dad with a jar of chow chow I put up last summer. I really hope they enjoy it.

                                              Thank you for your advice.

                                              1. re: BIteMe76

                                                It sounds delicious. I have used sausage instead of ham and chicken stock instead of ham stock but never with beef. I have some beef stock in the freezer and I might have to give it a try.

                                                1. re: BIteMe76

                                                  that's the beauty of it - -as long as as you pitch the flavor packet, you can just toss in whatever you have to hand and it will be great.

                                                  It became known as "refrigerator soup" (in front of others) and "garbage soup" at home -- I'd use it as a base and clean out the refrigerator, and whatever didn't go in the garbage, went in the soup! (leftover veggies, cooked or raw...chunked bits of ham/turkey/chicken/beef...etc., etc., etc.)

                                            2. we use smoked hamhocks in ours and throw in some collards toward the end....yum!

                                              1. The suggestion of cleaning off the ham bone before cooking is nonsense. You should toss the entire bone in the soup and clean it off after the soup is done. The whole idea of Bean soup, making any broth in general, is cooking the bones of all the collegian marrow from the bone. That's where most of the flavor comes from. You shouldn't have to add that much broth or bouillon to the soup either. That's the whole purpose of the bone.