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Feast of the Bean Counters: Ten Bean Soup

Culinary Bar Chart

I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready to do my taxes yet.

I’ve got the Turbo Tax software sitting on my desk along with a Ziploc back full of receipts. I’ve written a check to the state and the feds in case I somehow under withheld, but I’m just not quite in the mood to sit down and work through all those forms.

Not that I’m not thinking about it, at least subconsciously.

Why else would I have made bean counter soup this week (aka Ten Bean Soup)?  Why else would I just happen upon a long forgotten memory of a soup my mom used to make in her pre-vegetarian days?  I’m sure I have the recipe somewhere.  She actually wrote it up on a 4×6 card back when I was in college (the second time).  I was finally learning how to cook and it was my first exposure to the ham hock.

Boy, they weren’t kidding with that “everything but the oink” line.

Ten Bean is a rich, earthy soup that was also popular with the guys on my crew team, as long as we weren’t rowing the next morning.

I’m not sure where this numbered bean tradition got started and whether it really had anything to do with the only profession that looks forward to tax season, but the custom has continued.  In fact, just the other day at Caputo’s I noticed a bag of beans labeled “15 Bean Soup.”  I thought this a bit excessive but am pretty sure those extra beans were a holdover from the pre-recession days.

Remember?  Back when excess was all the rage and a soup with fifty percent more beans was a sign of just how well you were doing.  I’ll bet “15 Bean Soup” was even sold as a value proposition under a marketing campaign featuring such titillating MBA acronyms as ROI (return on investment), KPI (key performance indicators) and maybe even BEAN (Business Executive’s Accounting Network).

Now, unfortunately, on my street anyway, that enthusiasm for all things “high finance” has dried up like one more bag of beans.  Yet over on Wall Street, the execs are still living high on the hog and throwing out any cuts as pedestrian as ham hocks.

Not that I’m bitter, savory, yes, but not bitter. Nor am I getting ready to make Tea Soup.  (Unless you’ve got a good recipe, in which case, leave it in the comments.)

Not among the “newly” unashamed fat cats?  Not to worry.

Ten Bean Soup is as economical as it is delicious.  Beans, celery, carrots, onions, even the hocks are all dirt cheap, and my family, every one of them, loved the soup.  (Clearly there’s a connection between kids and beans. See also burritos, Turkey Chili, Minestrone, Veggie Chili, etc.)  Moreover, if you buy the beans in one pound bags, you’ll have enough beans to make at least four batches of soup.

So once tax season finally does roll around, you’ll already be an expert at tightening your belt.

Ten Bean Soup
(serves 6-8)
½ cup cannelloni beans
½ cup black-eyed peas
½ cup red kidney beans
½ cup garbanzo beans
½ cup navy beans
½ cup adzuki beans
½ cup great northern white beans
½ cup black beans
½ cup green split peas
½ cup red lentils
12 cups stock
½ lb carrots, sliced
½ lb celery, sliced
½ lb onion, chopped
2 T dried parsley
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 ½-2 lbs ham hocks
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups water (optional)

  1. You’ll need at least a 6 quart pot although you cando the whole thing in a crock pot, if you’d prefer.  Add all the beans together with the stock, carrots, celery, onions, parsley, bay leaves, garlic, tomatoes, ham hocks and seasoning into the pot.  Okay, add everything except the last 2 cups of water.
  2. Bring the soup to a boil and simmer over low for an hour and a half.  If you want to soak the beans first, you won’t have to cook them as long, but you’ll have soak them the night before.
  3. After 1 ½ hours, take the the ham hocks out of the soup, remove all the ham from the hocks, slice it up and return it to the soup.
  4. Heat the soup through once more, adding as much of the extra water as you see fit if the soup is too thick for you.
  5. Serve with (how’d you guess?) crusty bread and salad.  It’s a great meal for a late winter evening.


Image Credit: “Culinary Bar Chart” by the author. 

If I’ve alienated anyone from the banking industry, I am sorry.  I certainly don’t want to start any class warfare.  If you’d like to add your five extra types of beans to this soup, feel free.  My only request is that you tell me how it turned out in the comments section.


2 Comments to “Feast of the Bean Counters: Ten Bean Soup”

  1. Heidi says:

    Hi Guys!

    The new site looks great — thanks for keeping us Earles in the soup 🙂

    • admin says:

      Thanks Heidi. Hope you’re not swimming in soup like we are.