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By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and The Flat Broke Cookbook
Are you looking for creative ways to use up all the dried beans in your pantry? As much as I love a pot of pintos, sometimes I need a little more.
I offer the humble yet hearty bean soup. I’ve been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time traveling and one thing I noticed is that wherever I went, there was a local bean soup that everyone’s mom made. And most of those soups were absolutely delicious!
In this article, I want to suggest a variety of bean soups that you can make on a dime. You can use canned beans for these but you’ll save loads of money if you cook the beans yourself from dry. (Here’s how to do that.)
Frugal Fasolada – Greek Bean Soup
Everyone who has been reading my content for a while knows how much I adore Greece. And no small part of that is the delicious food. Of course I went to restaurants for a lot of meals (it was so inexpensive to dine out there) but a friend brought me soup made by his mother. It was called Fasolada and served with a hearty hunk of bread.
This soup is made from white kidney or cannelini beans simmered in tomato broth and seassoned with vegetables, olive oil, and paprika. You can get the recipe here.
Dahl on a Dime – Indian Bean Soup
This simple soup is one of my favorite Indian foods. I adore the hearty flavor and texture and when served with a soft, warm flatbread, it makes a satisfying meal.
Traditional dahl is made from lentils, a faster cooking legume, but some folks use yellow split peas. The traditional version has coconut milk but it can be made without it. That’s the beauty of dahl – you can adapt it to what you have on hand. Here are two different recipes for dahl: one with coconut milk and one from more typical American pantry ingredients. (I use regular yogurt instead of non-dairy for the second one.)
Pasulj for Pennies- Serbian Bean Soup
When I lived in Montenegro I lived off this soup. There was a restaurant down by the sea that sold it in large to-go containers paired with a loaf of fresh crusty bread. It was incredible and so welcome as the weather got cold and rainy there. A basically identical soup in Croatia is called “grah.”
This soup is made with white beans – I like it with Great Northern beans or navy beans. A huge amount of its flavor comes from smoked sausage – it has to be smoked, like kielbasa. Depending on your budget, you can use a lot of sausage or a little bit. Locals use Vegeta (simply dehydrated veggie flakes) and smoked paprika for seasoning. (I also learned that Vegeta with boiling water and some noodles makes a nice instant soup if you aren’t looking for anything hearty.)
Cheap Charro – Mexican Bean Soup
Charro beans are a popular, simple dish you can find almost anywhere you go in northern Mexico. Some places reduce the liquid and serve them as a side, while others serve them as soup. Either way, enjoy it with a pile of fresh tortillas.
Folks use all sorts of meat in charro beans – it’s kind of a catch-all. Hot dogs, ham, bacon, and my favorite, chorizo, all add richeness, flavor, and protein. (I’m personally not a fan of the hot dog version but I also don’t like hot dogs. Use what you have!)
Basically, you slow cook the beans then saute up the meat, onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, and other seasonings. You stir this all together and let it simmer until it’s thick and delicious. Some folks add a bit of corn starch to thicken it up. This recipe is very similar to what I had in Mexico.
Prudent Pasta Fagioli – Italian Bean Soup
Here’s another delightful “peasant” dish loaded with simple, inexpensive ingredients. You can make it vegetarian or not, based on what you have on hand. The first time I had it was during my misspent youth when I lived in New York City and spent a lot of time hitting up the diners in Little Italy. I couldn’t wait to try the traditional version when I visited Northern Italy and I was not disappointed.
This is white beans – usually cannelini – cooked with a tomato broth, pasta, and lots of herbs. If you’re adding meat, some commonly used choices are prosciutto or pancetta. My favorite way to prepare it is to take out a small amount of the soup and puree it to thicken it up.
Serve it, of course, with fresh delicious bread and perhaps a salad. You’ll have a winner of a meal on a dime. This recipe seems to be the closest to what I had in Italy.
What’s your favorite international bean soup?
Do you have a favorite bean soup from your travels or from someone in your community? Please let us know about it in the comments!
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.