Bean a long time

I am scandalized that some of my Facebook friends aren’t familiar with a fantastic wintertime meal.

John I. Carney
4 min readJan 21

A bowl of 15-bean soup.

A few days ago, my friend Amy posted a photo on Facebook of an assortment of various types of beans, soaked and ready to go into the pot to make 15-bean soup. That got me to thinking, and today I picked up a package of Hurst’s HamBeens 15-Bean Soup mix from the local supermarket.

This product has been around for many, many years, and a lot of people are familiar with it — but not everyone, as I discovered when I posted the photo above to my own Facebook feed this evening. I had already thought about doing a post, and when it turned out some of my friends had never even heard of 15-bean soup, that sealed it.

Amy’s 15-bean soup, by the way, did not come from the Hurst product; rather, it was from a package she got at a gourmet shop, which included just the beans, without the little ham flavor packet that the Hurst mix includes. But Hurst’s HamBeens is very definitely the market leader, and it’s been around forever. You will find it with the other dry beans in just about any supermarket. It comes in three varieties: original, Cajun and chicken, each with a different type of flavoring packet. There’s also an Italian flavor, but it only has four varieties of bean, not 15. But the flavoring packet is not as big a part of the dish as you’d think; this is much more of a recipe than a processed food, and it lends itself to customization.

Package of Hurst HamBeens 15 Bean Soup.
Hurst Beans website,

Let’s start with the beans. The Hurst ingredient list: “Contains 15 of these bean varieties: northern, pinto, large lima, yelloweye, garbanzo, baby lima, green split, kidney, cranberry, small white, pink, small red, yellow split, lentil, navy, white kidney, black bean.” There are big beans and tiny lentils, and beans of a variety of different colors.

The stovetop directions, which are on the package, call for a cup of diced onion, a can of diced tomatoes, a teaspoon of chili powder, the juice of one lemon, one or two cloves of garlic, and, as an optional addition, ham, hamhocks or smoked sausage. I almost always use smoked sausage (or…

John I. Carney

Author of “Dislike: Faith and Dialogue in the Age of Social Media,” available at