Smokey Fifteen-bean Soup

FullSizeRender-1Who loved Campbell’s bean with bacon soup as a kid? One whiff of this 15-bean recipe simmering on the stove top will transport you back to your childhood home, when Mom occasionally served this for lunch with a side of grilled Wonderbread and Velveeta sandwiches. But this hearty gluten-free soup has soooooo much more flavor than the canned variety. It’s also easy and cheap (great qualities in a soup, not great qualities in a woman…)with the shredding of the ham shank being the most time-consuming step—and it’s a budget-buster at about $11-12 a pot. This recipe is off the Hurst’s Hambeens 15 Bean Soup package, and I’ve always made it in a big Dutch oven on the stove top. But on their website,, they say you can make this 15-bean soup in the slow cooker (aka: Crock Pot) as well. Maybe I’ll try that next time, so I don’t have to stick around the house on a Saturday, keeping an eye on the pot. Oh, and when you’re shopping for a bag of dried beans, you may run across bags boasting a whopping 16-bean soup mix. But I think that’s taking it just one bean too far, don’t you? Let’s not go crazy, people.

Serves 12-16 (freezes well, if a gallon of soup is too much for you!)

Rating: easy

1 (20 ounce) bag Hurst’s HamBeens 15-bean Soup mix or other brand 15-bean soup mix
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (optional—my addition to Hurst’s original recipe)
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large ham shank* or smoked sausage (leftover ham bone from the holidays works great too!)

Quick cook method: Rinse and drain dry beans, reserving enclosed flavor packet for later use. Place rinsed beans in a large pot with 10 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1½ hours. Stir occasionally. After boiling, add onion, diced tomatoes, chili powder, lemon juice, garlic, and ham shank (or sausage). Stir. Bring back to a rapid boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove ham shank (or sausage) and let cool on plate. Stir in reserved flavor packet. Once ham shank is cool enough to handle, pull meat off bone, cutting away cartilage and membranes, and dice meat. Add meat back into soup. If using sausage, dice and stir into soup.

*NOTE: Sometimes I have trouble finding ham shanks, so ask your butcher for help if you can’t find them. If you can’t find the ham shank, try it with the sausage. I’ve never tried this recipe with smoked sausage, but I’m sure it would be delicious as well.

Three-Bean Turkey Chili Con Carne

FullSizeRender-1It’s safe to say soup season is officially upon us, and this staple chili recipe is perfect for a filling lunch or a hearty dinner when the weather turns nippy. This is such a fave, that frankly, I’m surprised I’ve not posted it yet! Although, I need to give a disclaimer here. It used to be a family favorite for for everyone in our household, but when I first went back to working full-time a dozen years ago, I was hard-pressed to come up with recipes to throw on the table in a hurry after 5 p.m. I had previously been freelancing from home, and could putz in the kitchen between projects. That luxury was lost when I had to be elsewhere from 8-5. Sooooooo… I would whip up a batch of this chili in the evening or weekends to have on hand for dinner. But apparently, I relied on this a little too much, and my sons started groaning, “Chili, AGAIN???”

We took a much-needed break from chili, and I found other recipes I could make in a snap when we needed to eat and run to guitar lessons or hockey practice, etc. (Many of those fast favorites have been posted on this blog.) Were my offspring a little harsh on me regarding this dutiful recipe? I think so. Especially when my son Brandon made this for a church youth group chili cook-off fundraiser, and won the coveted first prize trophy—an ancient can of beans glued to a block of wood bearing a “First Prize” plaque. (Helped that he’s stinkin’ cute and there were lots of teen girls voting…) Who’s dissing my chili NOW, huh?

The original recipe came from my Mom’s friend Arlene, one of those women who always makes great food. I believe she got the recipe from the St. Paul Pioneer Press sometime in the 70’s, but I’m not sure. (Feel free to comment, Arlene!) I’ve altered to suit our changing tastes, and now use turkey instead of hamburger, and have added black beans (unheard of among suburbanites in the 70’s), butter beans, more vegetables, and some additional seasonings. Serve this with the Corn Bread recipe previously posted, and you’ve got a winning combination. Maybe even first place.

Serves 10-12 (But freezes well, if that’s more than you need!)

Rating: Easy

1-1¼ pounds ground turkey (or hamburger)
1 medium or large yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped (optional)
3 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans with cumin and chili spices (do NOT drain)
2 cans corn
1 (15 ounce) can dark red kidney beans
1 (15-16 ounce) can butter beans
1-1½ tablespoons regular chili powder
1 tablespoon chili con carne seasoning (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1½-2 teaspoons salt


Grated sharp cheddar cheese
Chopped scallions
Sour cream

In large fry pan, cook turkey until no pink remains. Put into large Dutch oven, or other large pot in which you will be simmering your chili. Using same fry pan, sauté onion for 2-3 minutes. Add green pepper, carrots, and zucchini (if using). Sauté until onions are translucent, and other vegetables are slightly softened.

Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and black beans to pot with cooked turkey. Stir in sautéed onion mixture. In colander, rinse and drain corn, kidney beans, and butter beans. Once drained, add to pot. Stir in chili powder, chili con carne seasoning (if using), cumin, and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to simmer, and cook on low for 30-60 minutes. Serve with toppings. Or store in frig to serve later.

Cowboy Caviar

IMG_0675Tired of salsa? Give your chips something new to dip with this tasty and nutritious bean and veggie dish. I first had this when my neighbor Tutti made it for a beach party at her cabin. I made a total pig of myself, lingering over the snacks, dipping (and probably double-dipping) into this fresh take on salsa, sans the tomatoes. She finally asked me if I might like the recipe, most likely to get me to move away from the table. Tutti’s recipe had pimentos in it, but I’ve never had those on hand, and the red bell peppers do the job of adding that pop of red. I also add a few more vegetables than she did.

This travels really well, so it’s great for bringing on a picnic or serving at a potluck. I’ve sent this with the guys to cross-country camp for a healthy snack, and the coach LOVED it because the guys got extra protein and veggies—and even the ones who “didn’t eat vegetables” sampled this snack. You can add as many raw veggies as you like, just dice them so you don’t end up with just one large carrot on a chip.

If you have any leftover, this is great on top of chopped salad greens, with some diced grilled chicken. No salad dressing needed – the sauce does it all.

Makes 2 quarts

For Sauce:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can black-eyed beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch green scallions, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, diced
2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/3 to 1/2 cucumber, diced
1 can shoe peg corn, does not need to be drained (vacuum-packed)
1 small can diced green chili peppers, drained
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh jalapeño, minced
Tortilla chips for serving

Combine vinegar, sugar, and oil in saucepan. Heat on medium until sugar is dissolved. In large bowl, combine all the beans and vegetables. Pour sauce over bean and vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate 2-24 hours. Before serving, drain off excess marinate. Serve with tortilla chips.

NOTE: If you want to be extra-healthy, you can serve this with cucumber rounds instead of chips. Skip the cukes in the recipe, if you go that route.