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Oct 17, 2010 04:02 PM

"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.