Monica's favorite gear for
making 15 Bean Soup
It's easy to use, roomy, and programmable. I love the automatic warm setting when the cooking is complete. #1 pick of Cooks Illustrated.
This is a nice mix of beans that works great with this recipe.
I prefer the flavor of these delicious fire-roasted tomatoes.
This clever tool is so easy to use. Simple press a garlic clove with a rocking motion, and you've got minced garlic. Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
I get lots of great tips & recipes from this cookbook by Cooks Illustrated. It's my favorite slow cooker cookbook.
I used this for rinsing and draining the beans.

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

with ham, or without for vegan & vegetarian version; gluten free

This easy, nutritious soup can be assembled the night before so it's ready to plug in the next morning. At the end of the day, a delicious, hearty dinner is ready that is packed with flavor, fiber, and nutrition!

There was a little family drama over this soup. You see, King-Man HATES beans of any kind. I know, I know, but I do try to set that aside and love him anyway. When he asked me what post I was working on and I said, "A yummy 15 bean soup," he said it should be called "15 Bean Soup from Hell." In his book, any soup with that many kinds of beans defines hell. Poor man, he doesn't know what he's missing. So, I froze this soup in individual portions and have been reheating and enjoying it for lunch. All by myself.

Easy vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. I added ham to mine. For a vegan or vegetarian version, eliminate the ham and use vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. To make it gluten-free, just make sure the beans weren't processed with machines that may have been contaminated by other gluten products--read the packaging to be sure. Beans are naturally gluten free.

Nutritional Information. The beans and veggies in this soup make it a meal that is loaded with nutrients. It is high in fiber, manganese, magnesium, potassium, thiamin, vitamin C, & iron. It is very high in vitamin A with 100% of the daily requirement in a single serving. Here's the nutritional breakdown for 1 cup of this hearty soup:

  • With ham and chicken broth. 175 calories, 2g fat, 381mg sodium, 27.4g carbs, 6.8g fiber, 3.8g sugars, 11.8g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4.
  • Without ham and using vegetable broth. 160 calories, 2g fat, 331mg sodium, 30.3g carbs, 7.6g fiber, 4.5g sugars, 8.9g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4.

Step-by-step photos for making
Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup 

Step 1. Assemble these ingredients:

  • bag of 15-bean soup mix (discard the seasoning pack); you can substitute any dry beans or bean mix--it doesn't have to have 15 kinds.
  • fresh veggies: onion, garlic, celery, carrots, Swiss chard (or kale)
  • canned no salt diced tomatoes (I prefer the fire roasted ones)
  • low sodium soy sauce (provides a salty flavor boost--you can vary the amount depending on how salty you want it)
  • herbs/spices: bay leaves, thyme, black pepper, crushed red pepper (optional--omit if you don't like the heat)
  • low sodium chicken broth; substitute vegetable broth for vegetarian/vegan option
  • lean ham steak; omit for vegetarian/vegan option

view on Amazon:  Bob's Red Mill Bean Mix,  Organic No-Salt Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup Ingredients

Step 2. If your beans came with a seasoning pack, discard it. Pick through the beans and discard any rocks or bad looking beans. Rinse them well in a wire strainer & drain them. 

view on Amazon:  wire mesh strainer

Washing Beans

After they're rinsed, the beans need to be soaked in liquid overnight. There are 2 options:

  • Option 1: Soak the beans covered with cold water in a separate pot overnight (8-12 hours). In the morning, drain the beans and add them along with the other ingredients to the slow cooker.
  • Option 2: Assemble everything the night before. (So convenient!) Add the rinsed beans along with all of the other ingredients (broth, veggies, ham, seasonings, etc.) in the slow cooker insert (if it's removable) or other container, and put it in the fridge overnight. The beans do their soaking in the mixture's broth, so you can skip the water soak entirely. The next morning, remove the mixture from the fridge, add it to the slow cooker, and plug it in. This is the method I use. I love not having anything to cut, mix or prepare on a busy morning. I remove my slow cooker insert from the fridge, plug it in and dinner is ready that evening.

Here's how to proceed with preparing the other ingredients.

Step 3. Cut the veggies. Slice peeled carrots into rounds, slice the celery, dice the onion, mince the garlic--I used a garlic "rocker" crusher--a very, fast easy way to mince the garlic.

     View on Amazon: garlic rocker

Step 4. Cut the ham. Remove and discard visible fat; chop ham into 1/2 inch pieces.

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

Step 5. The Swiss chard (or kale) isn't added until the end of the slow cooking. So, it can be cut, covered, and refrigerated for use later. Here's how to cut it. First fold a leaf in half lengthwise with the stem/spine along the folded edge. Cut off the stem and discard. Chop the remaining leaf halves into 1/2" strips. 

Cutting Swiss Chard

Step 6. Add all of the seasonings, ham, and veggies to the slow cooker, except the Swiss chard and one can of tomatoes. Pour in the broth and stir.

  • I cook one can of tomatoes the entire cooking time--they disintegrate and flavor the soup. The second can is added in at the end so that there are some visible chunks of tomatoes in the finished soup. If you prefer all "chunkless" tomatoes, add both cans at the beginning.
  • Add rinsed, unsoaked beans if you'll be refrigerating the mixture overnight to cook the next day. Or, add beans that have been soaked in water overnight to start cooking it right away. (As explained in Options 1 and 2 above.)

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

Step 7. Put on the lid refrigerate over night (8-12 hours), or cook right away if beans have been pre-soaked. Cook on low for 8 hours until beans are tender.

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

Step 8. Remove bay leaves, add remaining can of tomatoes, chopped Swiss chard (or kale), stir, cover, and cook for another 20-30 minutes until Swiss chard is cooked and tender.

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

It's done. Time to eat!

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

I like to eat mine with a hearty, whole grain roll. It's good with cornbread, too.

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

Freeze and reheat. I portion mine into serving size containers and refrigerate or freeze it. That way I have a healthy, hearty lunch at the ready.

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

How King-Man can call this the Soup from Hell, I'll never understand. But, that's okay; it means there's more for me.

Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup

Make it a Yummy day!

Want more Slow Cooker recipes? I get lots of great tips & recipes from this cookbook by Cooks Illustrated. It's my favorite slow cooker cookbook.

Slow Cooker Revolution

Link directly to this recipe Print this recipe
Slow Cooker 15 Bean Soup
By Monica              Servings: 14 1-cup servings
  • 1-lb bag 15 bean blend (use only the beans; discard seasoning packet), picked over and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 carrots, sliced into round (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped (approx. 1 cup)
  • 8 oz. ham steak, cut into 1/2" pieces (approx. 2 cups); omit for vegan/vegetarian version
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (may reduce or omit for less heat)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce (may reduce to 1/8 cup or omit if lower sodium soup is desired)
  • 6 cups low sodium chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegan/vegetarian version)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans no salt diced tomatoes (fire roasted recommended, if available)
  • 4 leaves (7-8 oz) Swiss chard or kale, stems removed, cut in 1/2" wide pieces
  • salt to taste
Coat inside of slow cooker with cooking spray or olive oil. Add beans, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, ham, black pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme, bay leave, soy sauce, chicken broth, and 1 can diced tomatoes. Cover, and placed filled slow cooker insert in refrigerator overnight (8-12 hours).* Remove from refrigerator, return to slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours.  Stir in Swiss chard and remaining can of diced tomatoes, cover and cook 20-30 minutes more, until Swiss chard is cooked. Salt to taste, if needed.

*If you prefer, you can soak the beans in water overnight, rinse and drain them, and add them with the other ingredients to the slow cooker the next day.

Nutritional Information for 1 cup of soup:
--With ham and chicken broth. 175 calories, 2g fat, 381mg sodium, 27.4g carbs, 6.8g fiber, 3.8g sugars, 11.8g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4.
--Without ham and using vegetable broth. 160 calories, 2g fat, 331mg sodium, 30.3g carbs, 7.6g fiber, 4.5g sugars, 8.9g protein. Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 4.
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Posted on Monday, February 18th, 2013

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