Vegetarian 15-Bean Soup


Can't make up your mind whether to make bean or lentil soup? Grab a bag of 15-bean soup from the dry goods aisle at the market and make this flavorful, hearty soup instead. Bean and lentil soups like this one are often cooked with a ham bone or a smoked ham hock, but there are other ways to add flavor to a pot of soup, especially when you want something vegetarian. Here, we add a few Parmesan cheese rinds, which add a surprising depth of flavor and umami when simmered with a pot of soup, stew, or even pasta sauce. If you aren't yet in the habit, when you are done with that wedge of Parmesan cheese, toss the rind in an airtight container and store in the freezer to be at the ready. Your soups and stews will thank you for the flavor boost. Serve this hearty soup with a loaf of warm crusty bread.

Vegetarian 15 Bean Soup
Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Ali Ramee
Active Time:
30 mins
Soak Time:
12 hrs
Total Time:
14 hrs 40 mins


  • 1 (20-ounce) package 15-bean soup mix (flavor packet discarded)

  • 10 cups water

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 2 medium-size yellow onions, finely chopped (2 1/2 cups)

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)

  • 2 medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (1 cup)

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 8 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

  • 3 (1-ounce) Parmesan cheese rinds, plus grated cheese for garnish

  • 10 to 11 cups vegetable stock (as needed), divided

  • 1 small head escarole, coarsely chopped (6 cups)


  1. Place beans, water, and baking soda in a large bowl or container. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours. Drain and rinse beans well.

  2. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add onions, carrots, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and stir to coat with oil. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions soften, about 6 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until onion mixture starts to brown, about 12 minutes. Add garlic, rosemary, and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring often, until garlic softens, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar; cook, stirring often, until vinegar is mostly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add drained beans, tomatoes and their juices, Parmesan rinds, stock, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, with lid slightly ajar, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, 1 hour, 45 minutes to 2 hours. After about 1 hour, 15 minutes, check soup. If beans are not covered with liquid, add remaining 1 cup stock. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 15 minutes.

  3. Uncover soup. Remove and discard Parmesan rinds, and add escarole. Stir soup until escarole is just wilted, about 1 minute. Divide soup evenly among 6 bowls. Drizzle with additional oil, and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and more rosemary.

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