Chunky Hearty Three-Bean Soup

Hearty Three-Bean Soup

This is a favorite soup which we adapted from the original recipe titled “Recipe for Health: Hearty Three-Bean Soup”, printed in a magazine from a local hospital. True to its name it is very hearty, full of flavor, and chunky with lots of the good stuff! We’ve made it many times and adjusted the seasonings to suit our taste, until we settled on this recipe. This soup makes great comfort-food gift — I call it a “Hug in a Bowl” — everyone loves it and requests the recipe. We sometimes make a double batch and freeze half for another day. It tastes even better the next day after the flavors have a chance to blend. (The photo above shows pieces of broccoli which I included on one occasion.) I’ve also added shredded cabbage and you may need to adjust the liquid to accommodate extra ingredients.  It makes a complete meal in itself, but try it with Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread for a larger meal or a soup party.

  • 2-3 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4-5 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2 lb. ground turkey (I use the antibiotic-free 1.4# package at Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder (more or less to suit your taste)
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp. (about) fennel seed
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 can (28 oz.) low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart container vegetable broth
  • 1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black-eyed peas (we use pinto beans), drained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained (we use frozen)
  • 1 cup chopped carrot pieces (we use half-bag shredded carrots)
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon or regular prepared mustard (about 2 big squirts)
  • 2-3 splashes Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
  • 3 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, cut into 1/2 pieces

Preparation: Combine the dry seasonings (chili powder through salt & pepper) in a small bowl and set aside.  Drain and rinse the beans. 

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until soft.  Add the garlic and turkey; cook until turkey is browned. Sprinkle the dry seasonings over the meat mixture and stir to coat well.  (If preferred, the seasonings can be mixed into the meat before cooking.)

Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT zucchini. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.

Add zucchini; simmer covered for 10 minutes more.

Makes up to 12 servings.


  • Substitutions:  Instead of the chopped onion and carrots, I often use a whole container of Mirepoix from Trader Joe’s – a very convenient pre-chopped mix of carrots, onions, and celery.  Other beans can be substituted to suit your preference or whatever you have on hand. 
  • Seasonings:  I sometimes use this Homemade Italian Sausage Seasoning in place of some of the dry seasonings (fennel seed through Salt & Pepper). Either way, don’t omit the chili and cumin!! They add a lot of warmth and depth of flavor to this soup. 
  • Add-ins:  Other vegetables that work well include broccoli, shredded cabbage, sweet potato diced into very small cubes, or whatever you like.  Add cooked pasta to your bowl before pouring the soup; it is best cooked separately so it doesn’t overcook and turn to mush when the soup is reheated.
  • Toppings:  Try freshly-grated cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and/or pesto — it’s all good! 
  • To make-ahead and freeze: Follow recipe except DO NOT ADD ZUCCHINI as it will turn to mush in the freezer; ask me how I know!) Thaw, heat to a boil, then add zucchini and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy!  We hope you love this soup as much as we do.

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