Bean Soups

Soups fill our winter evenings, and the most filling ones start with beans. Get bean soup recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Soups fill our winter evenings, and the most filling ones start with beans. I love cooking with dried beans and tend to store many types in quart jars—which means I often have jars with just a scoop of beans left that I want to use up before I restock. Mixed-Bean Soup is the perfect option. You can use just about any bean in it, including lentils and split peas; the more variety, the more color and texture in the final soup. I often start by emptying as many jars as I can and then adding whatever beans I have in larger quantities, 1/2 cup at a time. Sometimes I even toss in leftover pearl barley.

In many ways, a soup with many types of beans resembles the bean soup mixes you can buy prebagged and tied with a pretty ribbon. But you’ll spend a lot less money if you buy the beans separately in bulk. You’ll also save money and have more control over the salt content and other additives if you started with dried instead of canned beans. And once you start cooking with dried beans, you’ll discover plenty of other uses for them, including—on this blog—pinto or kidney beans in Red Beans and Rice, black beans in veggie burgers, and chickpeas in falafel and this week’s other recipe, a Moroccan bean soup.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You just need some beans, basic veg, and dried herbs.
1. Soak and cook the beans.
2. Cook in the onion, tomato, and garlic.
3. Add the final seasonings and eat hot.

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Mixed-Bean Soup

  • Servings: 8–10
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
3-1/2 cups dried beans (such as chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, black beans, red kidney beans, yellow split peas, and white navy beans)
1/2 cup pearl barley (optional)
3 quarts water, plus more for soaking
2 large onions
16 ounces frozen or canned tomatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (optional)
3 tablespoons Italian Seasoning Blend
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the dried beans in a colander, rinse them briefly under cool water, and then pour them into a stockpot. Fill the pot with cold water so that it covers the beans by a couple of inches, cover it with a lid, and let the beans sit 8 hours or overnight to soak.

Drain and rinse the soaked beans, and then return them to the stockpot. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 60 minutes, and then check the densest beans; if they’re still crisp, simmer up to 30 more minutes. Add the onions, tomatoes with their juice, and garlic. Stir well, cover the pot loosely, and bring the soup to a second boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another hour, adding more water as needed. Stir in the lemon juice, mustard, and herbs, along with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook over low heat for 15–20 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 8–10.

Tips & Tricks
  • If you want to make Mixed-Bean Soup, you don’t need to go out and buy my full list of suggestions; you can use just a couple of types (see below). But you can also make this an excuse to start trying other bean recipes: you know you’ll have a way to use up any leftover dried beans.
  • I like to get the beans soaking while I make my morning coffee and then cook the soup at the end of my workday. You can let the beans soak overnight if you prefer.
  • You can shave off a few hours with a quick soak: after filling the pot with beans and soaking water, bring it to a boil over high heat. Cook the beans for 2–3 1 minutes, remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and let the beans soak just an hour before draining and rinsing.
  • Keeping a homemade herb blend on hand can also speed things up, but I just as often reach for containers of individual herbs, tossing in a pinch of this and a pinch of that. Even though they’re dried, you don’t want them to get old and flavorless.


Soups fill our winter evenings, and the most filling ones start with beans. Get bean soup recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.

Twice as Tasty

In Morocco, the Ramadan fast is traditionally broken at sunset with a bowl of bean soup called harira. Even though it wasn’t the holy month when I traveled in Morocco, I ate a lot of this filling vegetarian soup. Every time it was served, it tasted different: some cooks gave their variation a slight tang by letting the flour–water blend sit and ferment, and others beat in eggs. Outside Ramadan, this Moroccan bean soup might be made with lamb or chicken for special guests, but a vegetarian version seemed most common.

Although not traditional, I often make this soup with a blend of beans, like I use for Mixed-Bean Soup. By using the same base ingredients—beans, water, onion, and tomato—you can even prepare one batch and flavor it in two ways. To make the soups ahead, cook just these ingredients and then freeze the soup in portions; when you pull it from the freezer, you can decide how to flavor it for the night’s meal.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 2 types of beans, a couple of basic ingredients plus a bunch of spices and seasonings.
1. Soak and cook the beans.
2. Cook in the onion, tomato, and spices.
3. Thicken and cook in the final seasonings.
4. Eat hot.

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Harira

  • Servings: 8–10
  • Difficulty: 3
  • Print
2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight
1-1/2 cups lentils, soaked overnight
3 quarts water
2 large onions
16 ounces frozen or canned tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon each ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon
2 tablespoons unbleached flour or 1 tablespoon arrowroot
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons Homemade Harissa
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, or 2 cubes cilantro pesto base
8 leaves dried or fresh mint, crumbled or chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Soak the beans at least 8 hours and cook them for 60–90 minutes, like you would for Mixed-Bean Soup. Add the onions, tomatoes with their juice, ginger, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon. Stir well, cover the pot loosely, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for another hour, adding more water as needed.

In a small cup, dissolve the flour or gluten-free thickener in 1/4 cup of cold water and make a paste. Add a few tablespoons of the hot soup, mix it in thoroughly, and pour the mixture into the stockpot. Stir vigorously and continually so that the soup thickens without lumps. Add the lemon juice, harissa, cilantro, mint, salt, and pepper. Stir well and cook over low heat for 15–20 minutes. Serve hot. Serves 8–10.

Tips & Tricks
  • Lentils cook so quickly they really don’t need to be soaked. But you’re not trying to retain their shape or any crunch here, so it’s easiest to just throw everything into the pot from the start.
  • While fresh herbs give the best flavor, I tend to make this hearty soup in winter and use herbs dried during the summer harvest. I also make cubes of Basil Pesto Base but substitute cilantro for the pesto; these are delicious dropped into this soup.
  • Moroccans thicken harira with a blend of white or semolina flour and water they call tedouria (sometimes spelled tadouria). If you make it a day ahead, it will ferment slightly as it sits, giving another dimension of flavor to the soup. For a gluten-free soup, substitute half as much arrowroot for the flour.
  • I love to boost the lemony flavor of Moroccan bean soup, so I often serve lemon wedges on the side. If I’m squeezing in fresh lemon and can’t spare a full tablespoon, I just drop in the squeezed wedge and let the peel and membrane release additional flavor. Remove it before serving.
  • Moroccans often serve hard-boiled eggs, dried fruits, and honey sweets with harira. I find it so filling that it needs few accompaniments. I always serve Homemade Harissa on the side in case people want more spice, and I love to stir in a dollop of Fresh Yogurt. Sourdough Pita Bread or Low-Gluten Sourdough Naan make excellent dippers. You can even follow the meal with Moroccan-Inspired Mint Tea.


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One thought on “Bean Soups

  1. Pingback: Bean Soups — Twice as Tasty | My Meals are on Wheels

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