Cooking With Confidence
bean soup
Economical, Healthy, Soups, Spicy, Vegetarian

Kidney Bean Soup

by Nick

As luck would have it, our heat went out in our apartment in the dead of winter during a blizzard because when else does your heat go out? Not that the heat going out is the worst thing in the world. You get out the blankets and tea kettles and make it work.

The other thing I highly recommend is soup. Not only is soup healthy, but there’s really nothing that warms the body like a good bowl of soup.

I’ve been itching to make a bean soup for awhile although I didn’t really want to do the standard black bean variety. So after some searching I found this awesome kidney bean soup recipe. Topped with some guacamole and tortilla chips, it’s a great meal for a no heat situation!

I followed my normal rule for soups on this recipe, which is to double it and I ended up with enough kidney bean soup to feed Betsy and I until we have children (far in the future). So maybe there’s no need to double this one unless you are a family of at least four, unless you have a lot of spare empty containers and freezer space.

Yield
Serves 6.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Kidney Bean Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried kidney beans or 3 14-ounce cans
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • 1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 Cups liquid (water, or stock)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Guacamole Salsa:
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 green chili, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from 1 lime

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Go over dry beans and sort out any debris. Soak dried beans overnight in 3 cups of cold water per cup of beans.

2) Drain beans and add them to a pot with water that covers the beans by a few inches. Bring to a simmer for an hour and skim of any foam that forms.

3) Let your beans cool a bit and strain them. Feel free to save some of the bean water for the soup.

4) To make soup, add oil to a large heavy pan and once it's hot, add onions over medium heat. Cook for about 15 minutes until they are soft. Then add pepper and garlic and cook for another minute.

5) Next stir in all the spices followed by the beans, tomatoes, and tomato paste.

6) Add liquid to the pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

7) Use a blender (Emersion works best) to puree the soup to a almost smooth consistency.

8) Serve soup with guacamole topping.

Adapted from Best-Ever Soups.

Preparing the beans

The original recipe actually called for canned beans, but I figured dried would be better. The important thing to remember about dried beans, especially if you buy them in bulk, is to lay them out on a flat surface and go through them.

I found three actual rocks in this batch. They were small, but I don’t think any amount of cooking would’ve softened them up.

cleaning beans

Turns out dried beans can also contain ROCKS.

Soak the dried beans overnight in cold water using about 3 cups of water per cup of beans. The water should definitely cover the beans as they will soak up a lot of water throughout the night.

When you’re ready to cook them, drain the beans and rinse them. Then add them to a large pot and cover the beans with fresh water until the water is about 1 to 2 inches above the beans.

Bring them to a bowl and then let them simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half or until they are tender. If a lot of foam forms on the top, just skim it off with a spoon.

Beans never looked this good:

beans cooked

Is it weird that I love this photo?

Other Ingredients

The other ingredients for kidney bean soup are pretty simple. Some onions, garlic, a pepper or two and loads of spices.

ingredients

Other important ingredients

Once your beans are cooked, let them cool a bit and then strain them. Feel free to reserve the cooking water if you want to use that in your soup. I used a crazy mixture of about 1/3 homemade chicken stock, 1/3 bean cooking water, and 1/3 fresh water.

Starting the Kidney Bean Soup

There a lot of onions in this soup and we need to soften them up. Start by adding your oil to a large heavy pan and once it’s hot, add all your onions. Stir regularly until they soften and cook down. You don’t want to caramelize them, but just soften them. I’d say about 15 minutes should do the trick. Then add your pepper and garlic and cook for another minute.

Then add all your spices at once! Stir it well to combine. The onions will take on an amazing red color mainly due to the paprika.

onions cooking

spicy!

Next add your beans, chopped tomatoes, and tomato paste to the party and stir well to combine. Let these cook just for a minute or two.

beans added

Nice.

Simmering the Kidney Bean Soup

Once your beans are combined, add all your liquid to the pot, stir, and bring it to a simmer. Simmer the soup, covered, for about 30 minutes and then remove it from the heat.

I guess theoretically you could serve it like this and it would be more of a bean stew than a legit soup. I think it’s a good idea to blend it up with your blender of choice. If you’re using a stand blender, just be sure to cool your soup a bit or you’ll have hot soup flying all over the place.

Or, if you have one, you can use my new best friend the emersion blender.

blender

Go go gadget blender!

After it’s smooth, return it to the heat and let it simmer for another minute or two just to warm up and get all the flavors combined. Taste it for salt and pepper and serve it up!

The recipe called for a quick guacamole to use as a topping. It was great with the soup.

Soup done

Seriously good.

Betsy and I learned the really good way to eat this was to sprinkle on some tortilla chips. They add a great crunch to the soup.

The soup itself is spicy but not crazy spicy. Just a nice gentle heat. But it does have tons of flavor from the cumin and veggies and everything.

Besides the well-documented social problems associated with eating a large bowl of pureed beans, there’s really nothing bad about this soup.

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40 comments on “Kidney Bean Soup

  1. I like the soup here Nick. I will say one thing though, and I speak from experience.

    When you are cooking with kidney beans, be white or red, make sure that after you soak them overnight, YOU WASH THEM, DRAIN, and then PUT THEM IN NEW WATER.

    I recently made a batch of white kidney bean soup that I cooked in a slow cooker. I soaked the beans overnight, and then proceeded to cook them over a long period of time.

    I ate a bowl of it, and got violently ill afterwards. (I will spare you the gory details.) That is when I found out that kidney beans have a toxin that is not destroyed by the heat. It could only be one or two beans in the whole batch that trigger the effect.

    For more info, check out here: http://www.foodreference.com/html/artredkidneybea

    I just wanted to make sure you all did not have the same failure as me. How embarrassing!

    1. Huh! Thanks for the info Jason. I did do that when I cooked mine but I wasn't entirely clear in the post. I updated it to reflect the new water situation.

      Thanks for the link!

  2. Mmm…I loves me some soup! Up here in the great white north (western Canada) it's averaging -20 so we've been eating lots of soups & stews lately, I'm going to give this a whirl on the weekend I think. Here's a tip Nick for when you double up soup recipes -with the extra, freeze lunch sized portions in the plastic containers you'd normally use to tote it around. Then once frozen, pop it out like an ice cube and store in a big freezer bag thus freeing your containers. Then you can just pull them out as needed, handy for lunches and last minute suppers!!

    1. Yep! I love doing this with leftovers. I literally ran out of plastic storage containers when I doubled this recipe ;)

  3. another winner. I gotta try that avocado salsa. I made some buffalo chicken chili and am having a hard time remembering what I put in it to write out a recipe. Has that ever happened to you? And did you go ahead and post it anyways?

  4. Does that soup look good or what? Mmmmm. I can't wait to try this. I love kidney beans and think beans are an important part of a healthy diet. This is a perfect dish to add some more to the menu.

  5. This was great! I added a little lemon juice at the very end to sharpen the flavor a bit. One note: is it 1/2 teaspoon or tablespoon or oregano? (I assumed teaspoon.)

  6. Found your website by change ;) This looks great! Make me think of my mothers brown bean soup. Now Let me go and find that old cookbook and make it this weekend. Thanks for this wonderful recipe.

  7. Just made this – it’s FABULOUS! Only changes I made was using fire-roasted tomatoes, omitting cayenne, using chicken stock. Question for you – why do recipes only call for 1 TB of tomato paste? Why not the entire can (because the cans are so small) or just omit it entirely? Just curious as I usually end up wasting the remainder of the can. Thanks for another great recipe!

    1. Good question Beth. You could probably use the whole (small) can without too much worry. I wouldn’t omit it though… it gives the soup some nice depth. They also make tomato paste in squeeze tubes now which is a bit easier to store.

    2. Regarding only using a small amount of tomato paste. I have a Weight Watchers soup that calls for only one Tbsp. of tomato paste and so I have always put the rest in the freezer and plop it into the next batch of soup I make! No wasting and I always have some in the cupboard or freezer.

  8. Hi Nick,

    I cam across your website and this recipe while googling for “bean recipes.”

    I was psyched to find this soup recipe and just made it last night, as I am wanting to cut down on our meat consumption and up our bean eating.

    My husband really liked it, and said it was a keeper. But for me — it was a little bland. I really wanted to like it. But the flavor was missing…I don’t know. Some kind of pep that my ordinarily meat eating taste buds were craving.

    Can you suggest 1) some spices, etc. that I can add to adjust the flavor a bit for me (since hubby is fine) and 2) some recipes that might be a better match for someone like me who is looking for a stronger (but still bean-derived-protein) flavor? (I’m thinking of trying the black bean patties you write about next, but am now second guessing that choice.)

    Thoughts?

    Thank you!

    Melissa

    1. Hey Melissa! Been a while since I looked at this recipe. :) If you wanted to up the flavor a bit, I would say you could add some chili powder to it. If you want to make it really pop, try grinding your own with dried peppers. it’ll really take the soup to another level.
      See: http://www.macheesmo.com/2011/12/the-homemade-trials-chili-powder/

      If you’re looking for a patty type dish, I think my mushroom burgers are the best on the site.

      There are a ton of bean recipes though. Check out the ingredients page for the site where you can look for different bean varieties and find an index of recipes (black beans for example): http://www.macheesmo.com/ingredients/

      Good luck!

        1. Melissa,
          There are a few things that really add that meaty flavor to recipies in general.
          Options are fish sauce, roasted or fried mushrooms, grains that have been toasted before boiling, eggplant, anchovies, Worchester, fish sauce, tempeh and seaweed. Its really a matter of taste and what you may have in the house. For this recipie, I’d tend to lean on the roasted grains, specifically:
          Since this is a blended soup, you need to toast the grain (I’d suggest starting with 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup bulgar, but hulled barley or farro could work) lightly browned in a Tbl of oil in a separate saucepan. Then cover bulgar in 1.25-2.25 cups water and 1-2 tsp Worchester sauce (Lee & Perrins style, low sodium if you like). Simmer the bulgar while the onions cook, then cover and set aside. The grain needs to soak and soften. Add to soup once the soup has been blended. Adjust seasonings and cook the combined bulgar/soup for another 10 min.

  9. Im really excited to try this recipe out….but I only have kidney beans from a can theyre not deied. How do I alter the recipe?

    1. Hey Sarah, certainly you can! I’d guess it would be about three normal sized (14 ounce) cans of beans. Rinse them well before using them then just proceed with the recipe!

  10. Hi Nick !

    I’ve made this soup several times, including for guests, and every time it’s a hit.
    I know I love it… Thnks for the recipe !

    Emilie

  11. I read somewhere that beans (or all nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashew nuts ect) have an outer layer or toxic enzymes which protects them from being eaten by birds. That’s why you need to soak them overnight and wash afterwards in fresh water. Never use the same soaking water for cooking.
    For avoiding “social problems” or digesting beans or lentils properly, use some acidic food ingredients while cooking. I use a piece of tamarind while cooking, or use lemon juice/ few drops of vinegar with cooked beans/ lentils. It enhances the taste beautifully and help in quick digestion.

  12. Cleaning up the kitchen after making this for the family – it was amazing! I used roasted tomatoes and the whole little can of tomato paste, otherwise I kept things the same. Thank you!

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