6 Bean, 8 Bean, 10 Bean Soup For All You Beancounters

Bean soup – how basic can it be? Well, that’s what I like about this recipe – it can be as basic as you want it, or by adding more ingredients and/or exotic beans, you can change the complexity and depth of the flavors. 

I first learned of this soup recipe from Emily Barnes. She wrote a book “More Hours In My Day” and I was fascinated by her concept of organization and family. I started going to her workshops and seminars. How did she keep her life together despite having five children and a husband to take care of. She had nutritious dinners on the table every evening, a clean and well-organized house, well let’s just say she was a “Martha Stewart” in my world. 

The link to her book (above) tells her story. If you have the time, it is worth the read (after clicking on the link scroll down to page 7). In Emily’s lifetime, she and her husband Bob wrote 65+ books –  organization books, cookbooks, spiritual books, (they both passed away a few years ago). Emily lives on through the legacy that she left. I still have the first version of her book “More House In My Day” which was a 3-ring notebook filled with colorful pages. I incorporated many of her concepts into our family household (my husband hates that the Christmas boxes are numbered and indexed, however, I do know what is in each box!). 

Okay, enough travel down memory lane, let’s get back to the bean soup recipe. Since first making this recipe in the early 80’s, I have modified it quite a bit. The original recipe can be found in Emily’s cookbook “Soups & Muffins” that she wrote with Sue Gregg.  

The ingredients for the bean soup can easily be picked up at any grocery or market. You can make your own combination with dried beans from the bulk aisle or by purchasing a prepackaged combination of beans. I have often made up jars of this combination of beans and given them away for gifts with the recipe tied to the jar. (It’s an easy project to do with children too – and they love to make these bean soup jars for their teachers.) 

One bean I add (because we grow them) is the Scarlett Runner Bean. They are very easy to grow and are a large and hearty bean. Here’s the link to my blog on Scarlett Runner Beans to learn more about them. These beans are not easy to find in the grocery store, but if you run across them in a specialty store, do pick some up and try them in this recipe or any recipe that uses dried beans. I believe you will find them a great addition to your bean collection. 

Sauté the trio (carrots, onions, and celery). I usually also add garlic too because I like it and think it adds a nice flavor depth to any recipe. So my “trio” is actually a “foursome.”

Add beans and seasoning to the pan of sautéed vegetables and then let them simmer.

Bowl of soup with a nice loaf of bread, yes, please!

Added shredded chicken, tomatoes, avocado, and cheese for a hearty dinner on a cold evening. 

Bean Soup

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    Dry beans for soup - ¼ cup eachblack eyed peas
  • split green peas
  • butter beans (Option: I substitute Scarlett runner beans)
  • small lima beans (Option: I substitute cannellni beans)
  • pinto beans
  • red beans
  • navy beans
  • great northern beans
  • pearl barley
  • lentils (green red, or golden)
  • Soup ingredients1 or 2 large onions chopped
  • 2 large carrots chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic chopped (optional)
  • 1 or 2 large cans (29 oz) of tomatoes
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (add more if you like your soup spicy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • juice of 1-2 lemons
  • olive oil for sautéing vegetables
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Options1/4 - 1/2 cup wine (red or white)
  • 1/2 to 1 pound of ham or meat (in place of meat can add 1 cube beef or chicken bullion)


  1. Wash beans thoroughly, place in a large container, cover with water, and add 2 tbsp salt. Soak overnight.
  2. In the morning, drain, add 4 quarts of water and option to add ½ to 1 lb. of ham or meat. Bring to a boil. Stir occasionally. Simmer for 2 to 2 ½ hours.
  3. Sauté onions, carrots, celery and garlic in fry pan for a few minutes. Add to pot of beans.
  4. Stir in cans of tomatoes, chili powder, lemon juice, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer another 30 minutes to 1 hour or until beans are softish.


If you add chicken to this soup, precooked chicken should be added in the late stages of cooking, like the last 1/2 hour. This recipe makes a very large pot of soup. Serve with French bread or crackers, and green salad. The soup is even better made a couple of days ahead and aged in the refrigerator. Recipe can be easily converted to crockpot.


Calories: 990 cal
Carbohydrates: 75 g
Fat: 25 g
Sodium: 4180 g
Cholesterol: 272 g
Protein: 99 g
Fiber: 20 g
If you don’t like some of the beans listed in this recipe, exchange them for ones you do like. And, you don’t have to use all 10 beans every time you make the soup. Scale back the ingredients a little so you can make the soup with the 6 or 7 varieties of beans you do have in your cupboard.

Tax day is near in the US – make up a pot of this bean soup for the hard-working beancounters laboring over accounting and taxes! They will thank you for it. 

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