13 Best Beans for Vegetable Soup

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Vegetable soup is one of the best meals you can make when you have odds and ends of vegetables left in the fridge or pantry, and you don’t want any to go to waste.

Other than being incredibly versatile with the ingredients you can use, vegetable soup is delicious, warming, and perfect for a cold winter evening. To bulk up vegetable soup, many people add in their bean of choice.

Which are the best beans for vegetable soup?

Luckily, there are so many types of beans that go well in vegetable soup, so you are very likely to find your favorite on the list! Some of the best beans for vegetable soup include cannellini beans, great northern beans, and fava beans.

Keep reading to find some great ideas for beans to use in vegetable soup, you might even be tempted to use a blend of a few different types!

The Best Beans to Add to Vegetable Soup

There are so many ingredients and recipes you can use to make vegetable soup, which means it is a great recipe to make your own.

One ingredient you can bulk the soup up with, and use to add texture, is beans. Below are the best beans to add to a vegetable soup.

Cannellini Beans

Cannellini beans are very popular, and you can find them in most grocery stores, usually sold in a can. These beans are also sometimes referred to as white kidney beans, so be on the lookout for both names.

cannellini beans

Cannellini beans have an earthy flavor to them, which goes really well in a vegetable soup. They are also quite starchy, so they can help to thicken a soup if left to cook for long enough, but this might also cause them to become too soft.

These beans are a popular addition to soups and stews around the world, and their fairly large size means you can bulk your soup up well, and get a good taste of the beans in the soup.

It is really simple to add cannellini beans to a soup, especially if you have a can of them. Simply drain the liquid and toss the beans into the soup. You can leave them to cook in the soup for 5 minutes to warm up, but they do not have to be cooked for longer than this, so adding them near the end is best.

Great Northern Beans

Great northern beans are one of the best types of beans you could add to a vegetable soup, or just about any soup for that matter.

The flavor of great northern beans is mild, nutty and delicate, with a creamy texture.

This provides the perfect flavor and texture in a soup with lots of different ingredients, and the flavor of the beans does not overpower other flavors in the soup.

These beans look similar to cannellini beans and navy beans, but there are some differences in the pale color, and the shape and size of the bean. 

While they are slightly large in size, they are not very dense, so they absorb seasoning quite while, holding on to some of the flavor of the soup.

These are a great choice if you are making a hearty, chunky soup, and you want a bean that can hold up well with the other chunky ingredients.

Navy Beans

Navy beans are an incredibly versatile type of bean, and they can be used in many different dishes, but go especially well in a vegetable soup.

The nutty, mild flavor of navy beans allows them to pair well with the base of a vegetable soup – carrots, celery and onions. From there, you can build on the flavor by adding different ingredients and spices, and still enjoy the texture and taste of navy beans in the soup!

As they are high in protein and fiber, navy beans will help bulk up the soup and keep you fuller for longer. Navy beans also do a great job of absorbing the flavor of the liquid they are cooked in, so they will take on the flavor of the soup beautifully.

When looking to purchase navy beans, make sure to look for the other names they go by as well, such as pearl haricot beans, haricot beans, Boston beans, and white pea beans.

Fava Beans

Fava beans, also known as broad beans, have quite a unique flavor. They are nutty earthy and mildly sweet, but they also have a note of bitterness to them. This complex flavor makes them a great addition to vegetable soup, especially if you are looking to add depth.

These are a great bean to go for if you are wanting bulk in your soup, as they are hearty beans that are sure to fill you up.

If possible, look for fava beans that have been prepared or canned, as if you buy them fresh, you will have to remove them from the pods, blanch them, and remove their skin before using, which can be quite a process.

However, this process is worth the texture and flavor that these beans bring to a vegetable soup. They are a very versatile bean to use too, as they are great in soups and stews, but also in salads and mashed to make dips and spreads.

Lima Beans

The mild, sweet and nutty flavor of lima beans allows them to be a great ingredient in a delicious vegetable soup.

These beans pair well with the base ingredients used to make vegetable soup, such as carrots, onions and celery, and they will add a great texture too.

lima beans

Lima beans can be found in a few different colors, either creamy, white or green. There are also two types of lima beans, the large butter beans, called Fordhook beans, or the small baby lima beans, which tend to be much sweeter. Which one you use depends on what you can get your hands on, and if you want something sweeter or earthier.

The mild, buttery texture of these beans can turn soft and mushy if cooked for too long, so they should only be added to a soup for long enough to soften and cook properly, or to warm up if they were already cooked or canned. You want to keep their texture without the beans falling apart.

Soybeans

Soybeans are a popular bean, and form the staple of many different diets. They have quite an earthy, nutty flavor to them, and taste just how you would expect a bean, too!

Many people who follow a vegetarian diet opt to include soybeans in different meals, as they are high in protein, and can be a good substitute for meat. In soup, they add a meaty, hearty texture, and they tend to go well with many different vegetables too.

There are many different uses for soybeans – making soybean paste, soy flour, and tofu – but these beans deserve some credit on their own, especially when seasoned and spiced and added to a vegetable soup.

Just make sure to not cook the soybeans for too long, as you do not want to lose that meaty texture.

Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are an incredibly popular bean used in many kitchens and for many reasons. They can be sold dried or canned, but they are most commonly used canned.

kidney beans

Kidney beans have a sweet, earthy flavor to them, which means they are great to add to a vegetable soup which has quite a salty, savory flavor, to help and balance all the notes of the soup well.

You can simply drain the liquid from the can of kidney beans, and pop them into the soup 5 minutes before serving, to allow them to warm up and absorb some flavors.

The red-colored skin of kidney beans makes them easy to spot, and helps to add a fun bit of color to a soup as well!

Other than being great to use in a vegetable soup, kidney beans are great for stews, chili, tacos, curry, and mashed to make a dip.

Black Beans

Black beans have a beautifully soft, creamy texture to them, and they have a really mild flavor too. This makes them great for when you don’t want to add too much extra flavor to your vegetable soup, but instead you are looking to bulk the soup up.

The black beans do well when paired with hearty vegetables, such as root vegetables, and they hold onto aromatics and spices well too.

Black beans are a staple in many different cultures and cuisines and for good reason. They are wonderfully versatile, being great in not only soups, but casseroles, tacos, and salads too.

They can be used as a substitute for meat, thanks to their texture and mild flavor, and they will fill you up for quite some time. Use your favorite spices and seasonings for black beans, as they hold onto different flavors really well.

Pinto Beans

Pinto beans have quite a unique appearance. Their pale orange colors feature rust-colored specks, and these make for a colorful vegetable soup!

pinto beans

Pinto beans have an earthy flavor, and a lovely smooth texture, so they are ideal for most types of vegetable soup, pairing well with the other ingredients, spices and seasonings used.

These versatile beans can be sold dried or canned, and which one you use will depend on what you can get your hands on. The dried beans will obviously need to be cooked for longer, but this allows them to absorb the flavors of the soup.

Canned pinto beans can be added near the end of the cooking process, just to warm up fully and absorb some of the flavors in the soup.

Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans, also commonly known as chickpeas, are one of the most popular beans around, and this is because they are so incredibly versatile!

There are two types of garbanzo beans available – the large Kabuli type is popular in the Mediterranean, and the smaller Desi type is most commonly found in India.

The round shape, and the firm texture, of chickpeas, does make them a standout bean, and they have a very distinctive nutty flavor to them. One of the greatest benefits is that they hold on to many different flavors and spices so well.

It is really easy to add garbanzo beans to a soup. Just drain the liquid from the can of beans, and top the garbanzo beans into the vegetable soup. They do not need to be cooked for long at all, and just need to warm up fully.

The firmness of the garbanzo beans gives a good texture to a vegetable soup.

Black-Eyed Peas

Black-eyed peas are a staple in the south, and are easy to spot with the bold black spot on the otherwise pale bean.

black-eyed peas

The earthy flavor of black-eyed peas pairs really well with salty flavors, like a stock used to make a vegetable soup.

You can simmer the black-eyed peas along with the other ingredients in the soup, allowing them to plump up and become tender, and to absorb some of the savory flavors. Just make sure to not cook them for too long that they become mushy and lose their texture.

Mung Beans

Mung beans are one of the most commonly consumed beans around the world. These beans are small and round, with a white stripe across the bean. The starchy texture of the bean adds good texture to a vegetable soup, and also helps to thicken the soup too.

They are high in protein, which means that they are a great addition to a vegetarian diet. You can find mung beans in various forms – whole and uncooked, split, sprouted, and even powdered.

For vegetable soup, use whole and uncooked mung beans, or split mung beans, and cook them along with the rest of the ingredients until they soften.

Lentils 

Lentils are actually one of the most popular types of beans added to a vegetable soup. They have an earthy, nutty flavor to them, and can do wonders at thickening a vegetable soup.

lentils

The common ingredients used in vegetable soup, such as carrots, onions, garlic and celery, all pair really well with lentils.

If you are looking for a bean to add texture, heartiness, and thickness to a soup, then lentils are ideal. You can find a few different types of lentils, but red lentils tend to be the best to use in a vegetable soup. 

You can soak dried lentils and cook them along with the other ingredients in the soup, or tip a can of drained lentils into a soup near the end of the cooking process.

The Best Beans for Vegetable Soup

There really are so many great options to choose from when it comes to which beans to add to vegetable soup.

beans for vegetable soup

The above list covers the 13 best beans, so you will definitely find the perfect option to use in your next batch of hearty vegetable soup, and maybe you will even be tempted to use a few different beans mixed together!

Related Question

How Do I Add Flavor to a Vegetable Soup?

To add flavor to a vegetable soup, you should add in fresh or dried herbs, paprika, or even parmesan cheese. These all bring different flavors to a vegetable soup, so decide which flavor you are after.

What Is the Best Substitute for Cannellini Beans in Soup?

The best substitute for cannellini beans in soup would be great northern beans – which are the most similar in size, appearance, taste and texture. 

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