A Deliciously Tasty 9 Bean Soup Recipe

The early spring and late fall are time for great soups. Unpredictable and often stormy or otherwise bad weather create an environment where anything goes, food-wise, and when “anything” is a comforting bowl of long-simmered beans, who can really blame you for wishing that these cool times of the year would never end?

You can really love the lengthening days before they give way to the heat of summer with this unbeatable nine-bean soup. If you’ve had a ham dinner recently for a spring holiday, you probably have a juicy, glistening ham hock, or a bone lying around with some of the meat still attached. Now’s the perfect time to take that bone out and make a delicious, soul-warming soup out of it. Break out the Crock-Pot or your favorite Dutch oven for this recipe.

Enjoy our delicious 9 bean soup recipe


  • 2 ¾ cup of nine bean mix OR 2 ¾ cup of the following beans combined (measure into a colander):
  • dried navy beans
  • dried Great Northern beans
  • dried black beans
  • dried small kidney beans
  • dried lentils
  • dried pinto beans
  • dried black-eyed peas
  • dried green split peas
  • dried pigeon peas
  • 1 cup of pearl barley
  • 2 quarts water or 1 quart water and 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 meaty ham bone or ham hock. OPTIONAL REPLACEMENT: 1/2 pound smoked tempeh, roughly chopped.
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • OPTIONAL: 1-3 leaves of kale, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, optional
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, finely ground
  • 1/4 cup small pasta, such as ditalini

Serves: 8

Time: At least 10 hours, up to overnight + 4 hours

Active Time: About 1-2 hours


  1. From your bags of beans, scoop enough to total 2 ¾ cup into a colander. Since 2 ¾ cup is equal to 11 quarter-cups, you’ll have a half-cup of some of your types of beans, we recommend the Great Northern and small Kidneys but would certainly not begrudge you doubling up on the lentils, black-eyed peas or split peas.
  2. In a pot, bring one gallon of water to a rolling boil and turn off the heat immediately. Salt the water as salty as the sea and add the beans as soon as the water stops boiling. Leave to soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  3. When we come back tomorrow morning, rinse the beans in a colander and set aside in the refrigerator until you are ready to start cooking.
  4. In your cast-iron pot, add the water and broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the bean mixture, barley, ham hock, and peeled tomatoes and reduce to a simmer.
  5. Once at a stable simmer, simmer for 3 hours.
  6. Add the herbs, chili powder and onion and simmer for one more hour.
  7. Add the pasta with enough time remaining on the clock to bring it to your preferred level of doneness. Since the pasta will sit with the rest of the soup, it’s ok to finish it to al dente, the liquid of the soup will continue to perfuse it as it sits together.
  8. Hit with the lemon juice just before serving to wake up the flavor.
  9. Serve with crusty bread or your favorite green salad for a hearty spring – or autumn – meal.

Leftovers: Soups freeze beautifully and bean soups are no exception. Freeze your leftovers only once, because once it’s frozen, your beans are shot through with ice crystals and they can turn mushy with additional refreezings. You can store them in your refrigerator for up to a week, and frozen portions can be frozen for up to 3-4 months before starting to lose flavor.

The optional kale makes this a kale-and-bean soup, a wonderful family classic.

9 Bean Soup FAQs

The History of Bean Soup

There is no specific origin of bean soup. Bean soups have been a part of traditions in America and other parts of the world likely as long as beans themselves have been cultivated, which is a really, really long time.

Recipes like zuppa Toscana (Tuscan bean soup) and Pasulj (an eastern European bean soup) date back centuries and they are relative newcomers on the scene so far as bean soups are concerned. What’s important is that bean soups are convenient, cost-effective, and hearty ways to feed a crowd of hungry kids or adults, and you can find their ingredients anywhere?

Bean Soup has been an important part of American culture since Colonial days. The most famous American bean soups are Navy bean soup, also called “House of Representatives bean soup” and “Senate bean soup,” as the same soup is served in the cafeterias of those august institutions to the members of America’s great deliberative body.

Navy Bean Soup may be named after both the Navy and a particular type of bean, but it’s not actually that picky a soup, it can be made just fine with any beans you have on hand – including the leftovers from this recipe! Serve yourself a bowl of truly American comfort food today and relax.

What About Canned Beans?

We’ve called for dried beans in this recipe, but canned beans are just fine as well. They are going to be a little less cost-effective than dried beans, however, as each can contains considerably more than ¼ or ½ cup, so you’re going to be left with nine cans of beans that are half full or even more. But if you’re doubling this recipe, canned beans are not a bad option. Some people claim that they can tell the difference between canned beans and dried beans, but we doubt very much they could from two bowls of soup set side-by-side.

Vegetarian Options?

To get your vegetarian substitution going, for those who have kicked meat to the curb, there are a few options. If you want to leave the meaty bits out entirely, we recommend replacing them with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to get the smoky flavor, or a hunk of parmigiano Reggiano rind for the richness. Also, if you’re vegan, the parm reg rind can be replaced with miso paste and tamari.

If you like the sensation of the protein, then be sure to add some rough-chopped smoked tempeh to the soup and get your umami on. Your options are as limitless as your imagination, and especially in recent years, vegan cooks have shown some great imagination! Some canned chipotle pepper is another great option to get a little more smoky spiciness going in your dish. Whatever your option, enjoy!

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