This Instant Pot bean soup recipe uses a 13 bean and lentil blend with a hearty tomato base for a cozy vegan meal. Tuscan kale leaves are stirred in at the end for added color and nutrition.
I’ve never been a fan of ham and bean soup. Something about it is just too salty and gross to me. Take the ham out though and I’m totally game for some cozy bean soup.
I think I’ve eaten more beans in the last 3 months than probably the last 3 years of my life. With this newer focus on eating more plant based meals, beans become a front runner for satiety and protein.
I can’t say I’m complaining about that because right now, in the middle of winter, they’re one of my favorite things to eat. They’re cozy, delicious and filling.
What else do you need?
Without any meat, added grains or even potatoes to this bean soup, I knew I had to step up the heartiness factor another way and that was accomplished with a huge can of crushed tomatoes.
Similar to this Instant Pot tomato white beans recipe that uses tomatoes to do exactly that, crushed tomatoes add a thickness to the broth of this mixed bean soup that really helps make it feel like a complete meal.
That’s also why I add them to my mung bean soup recipe. Works like a charm!
HOW TO MAKE BEAN SOUP
While you can definitely make bean soup on the stove, I find the easiest (and quickest) way to tasty bean soup to be using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.
For the most part, this is a dump and set recipe. There’s just two simple things to remember:
Soak The Beans Overnight
Soaking the beans is important for a few reasons:
1. It lessens the cooking time needed. This recipe is made in just 20 minutes of cooking time in the Instant Pot. If the beans aren’t soaked, you’ll easily need to at least double the cooking time.
2. Soaking makes beans easier on digestion. We all know the fun little song that comes along with bean consumption (beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…) and if you’re someone that finds yourself in digestive distress after eating beans or lentils, I encourage you to try soaking them first, it really makes a difference!
The soaking process breaks down the indigestible sugars in beans that cause that issue.
Soaking is as easy as putting the beans in a small bowl, covering with filtered water and leaving them out on the counter for 8 hours – overnight. Before you begin cooking, drain and rinse the beans well.
Use The Sauté Mode To Develop Flavor
While browning meats and things before using my slow cooker bothers me immensely (mostly because you have to dirty another pan), the same cannot be said for using the sauté function on my Instant Pot.
In fact, that function is one of my favorite things about the Instant Pot as a pressure cooker.
It enables you to develop deeper flavor in your soups and stews without creating more clean-up or dishes.
For that reason, sautéing the celery, carrots, onion and garlic before adding the remaining ingredients for the bean soup to the pot and pressure cooking is an important and easy step in the creation of a tastier soup.
I take the same approach making cabbage soup in the Instant Pot and it comes out so flavorful!
WHAT KINDS OF BEANS ARE IN THE SOUP?
I used this 13 bean soup mix which includes navy beans, black beans, red beans, pinto beans, baby lima beans, large lima beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), kidney beans, Great Northern beans, black-eyed peas, yellow split peas, green split peas and lentils.
So technically this is a mixed bean and lentil soup.
You can use whatever bean soup mix you have on hand or can find in your grocery store.
There are plenty out there, some are 13 bean mixes, others are 15 bean mixes and some are 10 or less. Any will work just fine!
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO SOAK THE BEANS?
If you forget or just don’t have time to soak the beans, you can definitely still make this bean soup recipe, don’t worry! There are 3 things to do in this situation:
- Rinse the beans very well before using them.
- Increase the broth and water total from 5 cups to 6 cups (whatever mixture of broth and water you want).
- Increase cooking time to 45 minutes.
CAN I MAKE BEAN SOUP ON THE STOVE-TOP?
Yes, this will take a lot longer than using a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot but it can be done if you have a good part of your day to stand by your stove.
Follow the directions in the recipe to sauté the celery, carrots, onion and garlic then add everything else to the pot (use a large Dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot), bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Cook for about 4 hours over low heat stirring occasionally until the beans are tender. Stir in the kale right before serving.
If you soaked the beans overnight, use 5 cups of liquid as the recipe states.
If you did not soak the beans, increase the liquid by a cup for this stove-top method.
For a stove top vegetarian soup that takes a lot less time, try this Mexican vegetable soup recipe instead.
CAN I MAKE BEAN SOUP IN THE SLOW COOKER?
Yes, you can.
Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker except the kale. Stir to combine and set the slow cooker to cook on low for 8 hours. Stir the kale in at the end before serving.
I prefer the Instant Pot to the slow cooker because I think it tastes more flavorful sautéing the vegetables before cooking as mentioned above.
You can do this before adding to the slow cooker if you want but it will require using an additional skillet.
CAN I FREEZE LEFTOVERS?
Yes, bean soup is an excellent recipe to freeze and save for later.
Place the amount you want to freeze in an air-tight container, plastic bag or even better, stasher bag (I’ve switched to using these 90% of the time lately over plastic bags and absolutely love them).
It will keep frozen for 2-3 months.
If you’re looking for a cozy vegetarian bean soup recipe for winter, I hope you give this a try!
Serve it as is, with some crusty bread or even add some cooked rice (or other grain) to it for an even more filling meal.
I also love a good classic minestrone soup for a hearty, vegetarian meal. If you choose gluten-free pasta, it can easily fit all the same dietary needs as this bean soup! Looking for meat? Try this delicious Instant Pot chicken barley soup.
MORE SOUP RECIPES TO TRY:
Instant Pot Bean Soup
- 1 cup dried mixed beans, or bean and lentil blend – *see note for what I used, soaked overnight
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon herbs de provence
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, cleaned, stems removed and roughly chopped
- Drain and rinse bean mixture, set aside.
- Add avocado oil to the Instant Pot and turn on sauté mode.
- Add the celery, carrots, onion and garlic to the pot and sauté for 3-5 minutes until slightly softened.
- Add the beans to the pot along with the remaining ingredients except kale, stir to combine.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure it’s set to the sealing position. Program for 20 minutes on manual.
- Let natural release for 10 minutes then manually release the rest of the pressure.
- Remove the lid and stir in the chopped kale until wilted while the Instant Pot is on the "keep warm" setting.
- Serve warm and enjoy!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.