Bean soup mixes can disappoint because different beans cook at different rates, leaving some blown-out and disintegrating while others remain hard. To prevent blowouts, we brined the beans to soften their skins. Then we brought the soup to a simmer before transferring it to the oven to cook gently in the low, constant heat. To build flavor, we sautéed plenty of aromatics and added thyme, bay leaves, and savory dried porcini. Swiss chard, white mushrooms, and fresh tomato balanced the beans with hearty vegetable flavor. The different varieties of beans cook at different rates, so be sure to taste several beans to ensure they are all tender before serving.

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Hearty 15-Bean and Vegetable Soup [Vegan]

Ingredients

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound 15-bean soup mix, flavoring pack discarded, beans picked over and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 pound Swiss chard, stems chopped, leaves sliced into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1/2-ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
  • 12-ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 8 cups homemade or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large tomato, cored and chopped
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Preparation

  1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 250°F. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, carrot, chard stems, and porcini mushrooms and cook until vegetables are softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in white mushrooms, cover, and cook until mushrooms have released their liquid, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until mushrooms are browned, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in soaked beans, broth, and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are almost tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
  5. Stir in chard leaves and tomato and continue to cook in oven, covered, until beans and vegetables are fully tender, 30 to 40 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
  6. Check out Nutritious Delicious at America's Test Kitchen online store!
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