This easy vegetarian bean soup costs less than $1 per serving and is so simple to make! I love using seasonal vegetables and enjoying this soup all throughout the year. Try starchy potato and parsnips in the colder months, and zucchini and mushroom in the warmer months. I have also included some of my top tips on how to prepare beans to maximize their nutrition!
Beans and lentils are a Dietitian’s best friend. Not only are they a great source of plant-based protein, iron and zinc, they are also inexpensive and incredibly versatile. I also love sharing how sustainable this protein source is (see my post How To Cook Lentils + 5 Reasons Why We Should Eat Lentils). If you haven’t cooked much with beans and other legumes before this Easy Vegetarian Bean Soup is a simple introduction to cooking with legumes.
Why I Made This Easy Vegetarian Bean Soup
This Is The BEST Bean Soup That ANYONE Can Make
This is usually the first recipe I offer to the bean-naive client. I also use this recipe when doing cooking groups with a focus on simple meals with minimal prep. This is a great recipe to learn for those that are only just discovering cooking.
This Soup Is Cheap To Make
This dish was costed at less than $1 per serving! That is pretty impressive for 15 grams of protein. Use seasonal vegetables to keep the cost down, and purchase beans (lentils, split peas and other legumes) in the ethnic section of the grocery store. This Chanterelle Barley Risotto is another dish that costs less than $2 per serving.
This Soup Is Perfect For Meal Prep
This soup freezes well. I love making a double batch of it, freezing some and eating the rest throughout the week. To freeze, portion the soup out into 1 1/2 cup serves.
Beans and Lentils Are Healthy
Beans and lentils are one of the best sources of plant-based iron, and they are also good sources of other minerals including zinc and magnesium (see How To Cook Lentils + 5 Reasons Why We Should Eat Lentils). They are also good sources of protein and fibre, making them a great choice for blood-sugar balancing.
Beans and Lentils Are Good For The Environment
Lentils are able to “fix” nitrogen which allows the plant nutrients to be recycled and also protects the soil from erosion. Nitrogen-fixing also decreases our dependence on conventional synthetic nitrogen-based fertilizers which can pollute waterways and reduces the soil’s ability to retain nutrients. Read more at Plant-Based Diets and Sustainable Eating.
Tips On Making This Vegetarian Bean Soup
Using A 15 Bean Soup Mix
A 15 Bean Soup Mix makes things even easier, everything is already mixed for you. These mixes will contain larger beans such as kidney beans and pinto beans. Ideally, large beans need to be soaked for 24 hours before using, or the cooking time can be increased to up to 2 hours.
Using Lentils and Split Peas for a Mixed Bean Soup
When I am looking for a no-soak version, I love using red lentils and split beans (both green and yellow). I also like putting some barley in there. Try using equal parts of all four ingredients for the soup, no soaking required with these smaller legumes.
Using A Good Quality Vegetable Broth
Homemade stock is always the best, but not always realistic for busy lives. Try to purchase an organic stock mix if possible to avoid any unnecessary additives.
Using Seasonal Vegetables
I love using starchy potatoes, turnips, parsnips and carrots in the colder months. In the warmer months try tomato, zucchini, mushrooms and spinach.
Tips On How To Cook Lentils and Beans
Using dry lentils and beans (also known as legumes) can be daunting at first, but once you have done it a few times it is a walk in the park. Smaller legumes such as lentils and split peas do not need to be soaked beforehand – but it does increase their nutrient availability which is important for those following a plant-based diet.
- First located the dry legumes in your grocery store as sometimes they are hiding. Check the bulk bins or the ethnic food section – usually located on the bottom shelves,
- To prepare your legumes, rinse them well and pick out any funny looking ones or any little pebbles,
- Any larger legumes including kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas need to be soaked overnight in triple the amount of water. This makes them quicker to cook and also removes some of the phytates which can impact the absorption of some minerals (see How To Get Enough Zinc For Vegans and Vegetarians). Soak larger legumes for at least 24 hours,
- Smaller legumes including lentils, as well as split peas, do not need to be soaked. If your soup is based on split peas, lentils and barley and you are short on time you can skip the soaking method. I do encourage at least a small amount of soaking time to reduce some of the phytates and speed up the cooking process – even an hour helps,
- After soaking, drain the water that the legumes have been soaked in and get rid of it,
- Now that the legumes are cleaned and soaked you can continue on to the recipe below. Always ensure you completely cook your legumes, they should be soft and tender and not hard otherwise they will be difficult to digest,
- For most legumes, it is best to add salt after they are cooked and not during the cooking process to prevent a tough skin from developing,
If you’re still looking for more information on how to prepare lentils and beans, check out my post How To Cook Lentils Plus 5 Reasons Why We Should Eat Lentils.
Notes On Making This Vegetarian Bean Soup
Do I Need To Soak Lentils and Beans?
Lentils do not need to be soaked, but soaking can increase the accessibility of some minerals. Beans do need to be soaked, so if you are using a 15 Bean Soup Mix soak the mixture for 24 hours before using.
Making A Gluten-Free Vegetarian Bean Soup
If using store-bought stock, make sure that it is gluten-free. Omit the barley in this recipe if not using a pre-purchased bean soup mix as barley is a gluten-containing grain. Instead, try a mixture of red lentils and green and yellow split peas.
Making Your Own Bean Soup Mix
Making your own mix gives you full creative control over the recipe. I like doing a mixture of red lentils, barley, green split beans and yellow split peas. Try 1/2 cup of yellow split beans, 1/2 cup green split peas, 1/4 cup of red lentils and 1/4 cup of barley. This mixture will cook faster as well – check the soup after 45 minutes.
Variations For This Vegetarian Bean Soup
This soup is so versatile. Here are some of my favourite combinations
- Reduce the stock by 1 1/2 cups and add 1 can of diced tomatoes for a tomato bean soup. Option to add 1 teaspoon of both dry oregano and thyme
- Add 2 cups of sliced mushroom and 1 sliced zucchini 10 minutes before it is finished cooking. Reduce the stock by 2 cups and mix 2 tablespoons of miso paste in 2 cups of water and add to the soup once it has finished cooking (see here why miso should not be cooked**)
- Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground white pepper once the soup has finished cooking for a nicely spiced vegetarian bean soup
Want To Pin This Recipe For Later?
Want Some More Bean Soup Recipes?
Try some of these favourite soups using lentils and beans!
- Vegetarian Greek Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
- Butternut Squash Curry Lentil Soup with Turmeric
- Easy Curry Lentil Soup with Kale
Want Some More Lentil Recipes?
- Best Lentil Salad Recipe with a Mustard Vinaigrette
- Easy Lentil Stew with Ginger and Couscous
- Vegan Buddha Bowl with Lentils and a Miso Tahini Dressing
Easy Vegetarian Bean Soup Recipe
- 1 1/2 cup bean mix* (lentils, green and yellow split peas and barley, and larger legumes if desired)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 9 cups vegetable stock organic (plus more as needed)
- 2 parsnips diced
- 1 large potato peeled and diced
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley to serve
- Assess if your legume mix needs to be pre-soaked and follow the instructions provided above.
- Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add onions and fry for about 5-7 minutes on a medium-high heat, until translucent.
- Add the carrots and parsnips and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Next add the stock and bring to a boil. Now add the soaked and drained legumes as well as the chopped potato and bay leaf.
- Turn down the heat to medium and simmer with the lid half off for about 40 to 50 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Taste to ensure all legumes are cooked through. Season. I think the white pepper makes this dish but that might be a personal preference.
- Garnish with chopped parsley to serve. Freeze any leftovers for an easy go-to meal.
Rachel Dickens is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University and is currently a PhD student at UBC. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on Indigenous Food Sovereignty while sharing diabetes-friendly recipes and tips for diabetes prevention.