The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup
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The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup

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It’s that time of year to make the best sixteen-bean soup ever! It’s full of delicious and healthy beans, plus, you can add so many vegetables and some leftover ham to add flavor and even more protein.

I froze some leftover ham cut into bite-size pieces because I knew I wanted to make this soup. This recipe has been in my cookbook for years. When I see the 16-bean soup mix on sale, I always buy a few bags. Please keep in mind you can buy beans in bulk, and make your dry bean soup mix yourself.

If there was ever a time to know how to make a good bean soup, it is now, my friends! Please be prepared to feed your family beans now before they must eat some kind of bean soup every day. If you know how to make bread or biscuits that’s a bonus for a belly filler. Homemade Bread or Homemade Biscuits

Soups of all kinds are used as a comfort food when people get sick, particularly at this time of year. Many of those soups have more broth than this soup recipe, but you might consider having it available just in case. I love soups and make them any time a family member is “under the weather.” Give it a try, they will love you even more for your kind efforts!

In case you missed this post, Easy Turkey Pot Pie

The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup

Ingredients – Sixteen-Bean Soup

  • 16 Bean Soup Bag: A delicious assortment of beans – typically contains: large lima beans, red kidney beans, small white beans, baby lima beans, cranberry beans, pink beans, great northern beans, pinto beans, lentils, whole green peas, green split peas, black-eyed peas, yellow split peas, small red beans, speckled lima beans, and green baby lima beans. It also contains a bag of seasonings that need to be added to the soup, when recommended in the instructions.
  • Carrots: A root vegetable that is typically orange in color. Has a delicious crunch and is high in beta-carotene which is known as a great vitamin for eye health.
  • Celery Stalks: Refreshingly crisp, light, and delicious! High in antioxidants, and the fiber contained within is great for the digestive and cardiovascular systems.
  • White or Yellow Onion: Both onions have a very distinct spicy flavor that adds a lot to a savory soup, casserole, or dish. White onions tend to be a bit stronger and pungent in flavor than yellow onions.
  • Garlic Cloves: Provides delicious flavor; may also aid in health benefits due to antiviral and antibacterial properties.
  • Sweet Dried Basil: Sweet dried basil has a very distinct flavor but is a milder herb than regular dried basil. It has less of a licorice flavor.
  • Dried Parsley: Parsley has a delicious slightly bitter taste that contrasts well with other flavors. Used to enhance the other flavors of the soup.
  • Salt and Pepper: They help to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients in the soup.
  • Water: Water is used to rinse the beans before cooking to wash and eliminate any rocks or debris; also used to cook the beans, vegetables, and seasonings.
  • Ham: A type of pork that is roasted, pre-cured, or cooked in a variety of ways. Adds the final touch of delicious and savory flavor to this soup!
Read More of My Articles  Vegetable Beef Soup

Kitchen Items You May Need:

The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup

Step One – Gather Ingredients – Inspect Beans – Wash and Rinse – Cover with Water in a Large Pot

Gather all of your ingredients. Open the bag of 16-bean soup and look for small rocks or debris. Wash or rinse the dry beans.

Place the “washed” beans in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Let them soak overnight.

Soak the Beans

Step Two – The Next Day, Rinse the Beans and Drain

The next day, rinse the beans in a colander and drain.

Rinse the Beans

Step Three – Place Soaked Beans in a Slow Cooker

Place the soaked beans in your slow cooker.

The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup

Step Four – Chop Vegetables

Chop the vegetables of your choice.

Chop the Vegetables

Step Five – Add Vegetables to the Slow Cooker

Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the slow cooker.

The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup

Step Six – Add Ham, Water, and Seasonings – Set Slow Cooker to High for 6 Hours – Add Seasoning Packet

Add the ham pieces. Add 7-8 cups of water or enough water to cover the beans. Sprinkle the seasonings on top of the water.

Set your slow cooker to 6 hours on HIGH. One hour before serving add the ham seasoning package included in the 16-bean soup package.

The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup

Finished Product

Do you love homemade soup as much as I do? I wish you could come over and have a bowl with me, I would love it!

The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup

Sixteen-Bean Soup Recipe

5 from 5 votes
The Best Sixteen-Bean Soup
Sixteen-Bean Soup
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
6 hrs
Soak Beans Overnight
12 hrs
Total Time
18 hrs 15 mins

This sixteen-bean soup recipe is full of beans, chopped vegetables, and some bite-size pieces of ham. It's a wonderful comfort food!

Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 people
Author: Linda Loosli
  • 20 ounces 16 bean soup bag (save the "ham seasoning" bag included)
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried sweet basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 7-8 cups of water
  • 1-2 cups fresh thick pieces of ham (cut into chunks)
  1. Gather all of your ingredients. Open the bag of 16-bean soup and look for small rocks or debris. Rinse the beans in a colander and drain.

    Place the "washed" beans in a soup pot and cover them with cold water. Let them soak overnight.

  2. The next morning rinse the beans in a colander and drain the water from the beans.

  3. Place the soaked beans in your slow cooker.

  4. Chop the vegetables.

  5. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the beans.

  6. Add the ham pieces. Add 7-8 cups of water. Sprinkle the seasonings on top of the water. Set your slow cooker to 6 hours on HIGH. One hour before serving add the ham seasoning package included in the 16-bean soup package.

What are the sixteen beans in the bag of soup?

It was fun to put together the list of bean varieties for this special soup. There were a few new names I wasn’t as familiar with. As with most soups from the shelf, you’ll find the old standby beans in most bean soups, such as lima, pinto, black, speckled, etc. We all tend to stick with those we know our family will eat, and have the flavor we enjoy the most.

  • Large Lima beans: Also known as a butter bean. They are larger lima beans in the shape of a moon and are used in a variety of dishes. Starchier than other white beans which creates a texture that resembles a potato. They have a buttery flavor and can become a little mushy once cooked.
  • Small White beans: An ivory bean that is very easy to prepare. They have a mild flavor which makes them a versatile and common bean found in many dishes.
  • Red Kidney beans: A very common bean that is red in color and in the shape of a kidney. They have a nutty yet mild flavor with a hint of sweetness.
  • Baby Lima beans: Smaller than navy beans, also a white bean. Known as a butter beans because once cooked they taste buttery and creamy.
  • Great Northern beans: A medium-sized white bean with a mild flavor. A very versatile bean and is widely used due to its ability to soak up flavors and seasonings in a dish.
  • Speckled Lima beans: Also known as speckled butter bean. They have a very creamy texture when cooked and are high in soluble fiber.
  • Black beans: Very well known in Latin American dishes. Very rich in protein, antioxidants, carbohydrates, and fiber.
  • Green Baby Lima beans: Very pale in color and plump in size. They are creamy and quite tender beans.
  • Pinto beans: A very common bean. Known for being made into refried beans. They have a very earthy flavor with a creamy texture. They have a “painted” look to them.
  • Cranberry beans: A medium to a large bean. They are also known as a Borlotti beans. Light brown color with a splash or streak of red, black, magenta, or purplish pink spots. They have a slightly nutty flavor and are sweet and creamy.
  • Pink beans: They are oval-shaped and small in size. They are pale pinkish brown. Also known as a chili bean. They are similar to pinto beans but are smaller and rounder and have a deep meaty flavor.
  • Small Red beans: Also known as the adzuki bean. It has a strong nutty and sweet flavor.
  • Navy beans: A small white bean in the shape of an oval. One of the most popular beans, it has a smooth white surface and a very mild flavor. Also known as a Boston bean or pea bean.
  • Lentils: An edible legume that is naturally gluten-free. They range in a variety of colors from yellow and red to black, brown, or green. They tend to have a bit of an earthy, sweet, or nutty flavor and hold their shape well while cooking.
  • Whole Green peas: Part of the legume family. They are pale green in color and round in shape. They have a sweet flavor and are nutritionally rich.
  • Black-eye peas: A white bean with a small black eye. They are small and a bit plump and round in shape.
Read More of My Articles  Quick And Easy Creamy Italian Sausage Soup

One of the fun things I like about this soup is the variety of colors. All the bean varieties, along with some pea variations, make for a very colorful bowl of soup.

How do I store this sixteen-bean soup after cooking?

After cooking I store the leftover soup in a Tupperware-type container. It should stay good for 3 – 4 days in your refrigerator.

Can I freeze this sixteen-bean soup after cooking?

Absolutely, place the soup in an airtight container and store it for 2-3 months in your freezer.

Can I use beans that are already cooked in cans?

Yes, you can skip the soaking of the beans, and just add 2-3 cans of your favorite type of canned beans.

Is sixteen-bean soup good for me?

Yes, it has a lot of protein, fiber, and nutrients all in one bowl!

My sixteen-bean soup is too thin, how can I thicken it?

Sometimes, we may add a bit too much water and we want the soup thicker, I get it. To thicken your soup, use your ladle to remove 3 tablespoons of the broth and place it in a bowl.

Stir in One Tablespoon of Cornstarch to the broth, and stir until smooth. Add the mixture back to the slow cooker. It will thicken as it cooks.

Another trick I learned from a reader is to use a package of instant potatoes, add a little and stir it in the soup until you find the right consistency.

Can I make this sixteen-bean soup without a ham bone?

Yes, you can. Do I love a ham bone? Oh, yeah! But sometimes I don’t have one and this soup is perfect without one.

Can I use a Ham Bone in this sixteen-bean soup?

I didn’t have one today, but yes, you can throw a ham bone in when you start the slow cooker. After the soup is finished cooking, remove the ham bone and cut off the pieces of ham that are left on the bone, and put them back in the soup.

Can I use LENTILS to thicken up this sixteen-bean soup?

A reader, Janet, (thank you, my friend), has taught me slowly how to use lentils in so many ways. Add about 1 cup of lentils to this recipe and it will thicken up really well.

Rinse the lentils as you did the beans, and add them to the slow cooker when you add the beans. The 16-bean soup mix has some lentils, but this would be an additional cup of lentils.

Can I use another meat in the soup besides ham?

Deborah, one of my amazing readers, reminded me about adding ground beef instead of ham. Great tip! If you are interested in trying another meat, I highly recommend cooked Italian sausage or pork, either would taste delicious!

Can I make this sixteen-bean soup meatless?

You can make this soup vegetarian, by skipping the ham, or any other meat. It still tastes delicious!

Is this sixteen-bean soup considered gluten-free?

As with any food allergy, I would highly recommend reviewing the ingredients on any product that you use in this recipe, or on any other packaging, if you decide to add additional ingredients. With the recipe made as is, the most common ingredient that would contain gluten may be in the seasoning packet that would be included in the sixteen-bean bag. Please review any and all packaging if this is a dietary concern.

What can I serve with this sixteen-bean soup?

Looking for other delicious bean recipes? These are some of my favorites!

Did you know? Some interesting facts about beans:

Final Word

Let me know if you try making my sixteen-bean soup recipe, you know I love to hear from you. It’s a great recipe to teach our kids and grandkids how to make soup without having to gather very many ingredients. Soups of all kinds are a welcome meal this time of year as the weather turns a little colder. Nothing like a hot soup to warm up our bodies and spirits!

Plus, we can teach them how to stretch a meal with more beans! May God Bless this world, Linda

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  1. 5 stars
    Linda, I love bean soup, no matter how many beans. LOL I’ve made mine with and without ham. You can use ground beef if you want. It’s good anyway you fix it. I like to serve mine with cornbread. Yum I also love a vegetable soup. My grandmother made what she called soup mix. She froze all kinds of veggies and when she didn’t have enough to store in a meal size bag, she’d make her soup mix. Any and all kinds of fresh veggies in a large pan. (She used her metal dish pan to heat them up in). It was so good as is. We loved it.

    1. Hi Deborah, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend! OH, I need to add the ground beef to the post, great idea! I’m with you, I love bean soup!! Of course, cornbread is the best!! Linda

  2. This is similar to a bean soup I can every year. My recipe came from CANNING CENTS by Stephanie Peterson (en?). It uses Herbs de Provence for primary seasoning and is really delicious. This one sounds very good. I will try your recipe.

  3. I’m really tired of all the bean soup recipes needing that particular brand of beans and its seasoning packet. What can we substitute if we use our own (sometimes from bulk) bean mixes?

  4. 5 stars
    I make this same soup but with two small changes. I put nickel size meatballs in for the meat and add a quart jar of tomatoes. YUM!

  5. 5 stars

    I would have to add Anazaze Beans. They are so delicious. My daughter bought her father a 20# bag or organic Anazaze beans for Christmas because he was complaining our chilli didn’t taste as good without them. They are a fantastic bean.

    1. Hi Jackie, thank you for the 5 stars, my sweet friend. Those beans sound familiar, thanks for the tip. I have my food storage in a storage unit until our home is finished. I need to stock some of these! Linda

  6. 5 stars
    Linda, in addition to lentils, I add Anasazi beans, which I guess technically makes it an 18 bean soup. I serve it with homemade cornbread and load it up with butter.

  7. Hi Linda, More meats that work in bean or pea soups are smoked sausage, and Kielbasa (Polska/pork, Beef, or Turkey). I catch them on sale for $4,00 or less, and store them in the freezer. In these days of high meat prices, 1 package of smoked sausage at $4.00 (store brand or brand name on sale), Makes a whole 8 qt slow Cooker of bean soup (3+ cups of beans), makes 2or 3 meals for the 2 of us, plus meals for my husband to take to work. Plus you can make bean soup any time of year with it. A nice large, thick ham steak also works, I get those whenever they are on sale too. If I use a ham bone I put aside the last couple of cups of meat off the bone and set it up in the slow cooker with celery, onions, carrots, black peppercorns, whole cloves, bay leaf, Wrights Hickory flavor, and dried parsley overnight, while the beans are soaking. In the morning I strain the reduced ham broth and discard the bone. Results are a richly flavored, bone broth that is far less salty, than hame broth cook the beans in. (my husband loves the left over cooked vegetables). In the morning, I set up my soup in the morning with some fresh vegetables and cook it on high all day until the beans are just cooked, but not mushy. Extras I add are split green and yellow peas, and red or yellow lentils. They all dissolve into the broth to thicken it up. I add the reserved ham in the last hour of cooking to warm is through, but not suck the flavor out of it. Sometimes I make Split Pea soup the same way. The smoked sausage also makes great baked beans.

    1. Hi MaryAnn, oh my gosh, I need to stock up on those sausages!! I forget about those, thank you for the reminder! My mouth is watering just thinking about how you make this soup/broth!! I love it! Linda

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