Yes, I said it. The “K” word. But please, don’t run screaming away! You KNOW kale is good for you. And you may think it’s a bitter pill (or leaf) to swallow, but wilted in soup it’s absolutely delicious. And this slow cooker 16 bean and kale soup is an extremely easy and warm and cozy and tasty way to enjoy one of the most healthy greens out there.
And if you really, REALLY don’t like kale, fear not. You can easily substitute spinach or some other leafy green in this soup!
Have you ever heard of 16 bean soup before? I hadn’t until a short time ago. In the dried beans section of your grocery store, you will find a pack of beans (I used Goya brand) that is labeled “16 Bean Soup Mix.” It’s nothing more than a combination of TONS of legumes, including pinto beans, red beans, pink beans, kidney beans, northern beans, small and big lima beans, white beans, black beans, black eyed peas, chickpeas, peas, split peas (yellow and green), lentils, and even pearl barley.
Phew! That’s a lot of beans… and a TON of nutrients! Add the kale and you have a nutritional powerhouse that simply cannot be beat.
Some of these bean soup mixes will be labeled “13 Bean Soup Mix,” such as from Bob’s Red Mill, and the numbers may range between 9 and 16 depending on the brand. Some may come with a flavoring packet- discard this, as it likely contains unsavory ingredients like MSG or artificial additives.
Traditionally, 16 bean soup is made with ham and chicken broth. I used both, with kale as an added bonus. It’s a great way to use up leftover ham. Alternatively, you can easily make this soup vegetarian/vegan by omitting the ham and using vegetable broth instead.
And the BEST thing about this soup is that it cooks all day in your slow cooker. All you have to do to prep is make sure you pre-soak and rinse the beans (which will help with lessening the indigestion beans are well-known to create), chop some carrots, onion, and celery, and throw it all in your slow cooker with the beans, ham, and broth. When you are ready to serve, add salt (the beans won’t cook properly if salt is added before cooking) and stir some chopped kale and fresh parsley (or other herbs) into the soup. After a few minutes, your soup will be perfectly seasoned and the kale will be beautifully wilted into the soup.
Plus, like most soups, this freezes extremely well for a future meal (and this recipe makes a ton!).
Hope you enjoy this cozy, inexpensive, delicious, and nutrient-packed meal!Print
Slow Cooker 16 Bean and Kale Soup
This 16 bean and kale soup is a nutrient-packed, easy, hearty, and delicious meal! Slow cooking makes it super easy. Freeze the leftovers!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 8 mins
- Total Time: 18 mins
- Yield: 8-10 servings
- 1 lb. 16 bean soup mix (or 12 bean, or 13 bean, or whatever you can find!)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1/2 lb. (approximately 2 cups) cooked ham, diced (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 6-8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (64 oz.)
- 1 bunch kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Before making this soup, soak the beans (put beans in a container and cover with plenty of water, and allow to soak in the refrigerator overnight).
- Drain and rinse the beans.
- Add all ingredients except kale, salt, and parsley to your slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours.
- Add kale, salt to taste, and parsley. Continue heating in slow cooker for 5-10 minutes, or until kale has wilted.
Don’t like kale? Substitute with spinach or another leafy green.
Not sure if you like kale? Use a half a bunch instead of the whole bunch, and if you like it, add the whole thing.
Don’t have a slow cooker? Make it on the stovetop instead- cook on low covered for about 2 hours, or until beans are tender, before adding kale.
Have leftovers? Freeze them for up to 6 months!
Vegan or vegetarian? Omit the ham and make sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken.