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  • Ridiculously Easy Three Bean Soup

    November 6, 2009

    I thought that going into the weekend you might want a recipe for a soup that is easy, hearty and most of all yummy.  And there’s a good chance that you already have most, if not all, of the ingredients on hand.  What I love about this bean soup is that it calls for vinegar which gives it an unexpected zing.

    Aside:   This recipe comes from my “big tattered envelope file” — only the best of the best, tried-and-true recipes go there.  Some are scrawled on scraps of paper, others clipped out of magazines or newspapers and just now it occurs to me that some of these recipes are about 20 years old. I know the crab cakes recipe is on a blue post it note and the bean soup is on yellow paper folded in half.  They are curled, frayed, have food on them and are a disorderly mess, but it works for me.  How do y’all keep your “go to” recipes?

    The recipe suggests that you make this soup in a crock pot, but on many occasions I have forgotten to get it started early on, so I just make it atop the stove, get it good and hot and it’s still yummy.

    Ridiculously Easy Three Bean Soup

    1 pound of ground beef, browned with one small diced onion

    ½ lb of bacon, fried and crumbled

    1 big can of baked beans (I like Bush’s Maple best for this recipe).

    2 cans of white beans

    ½ cup of brown sugar

    ½ cup of vinegar

    1 Tablespoon of molasses

    Do not drain the beans. Put all in a crock pot and slow cook for several hours.

    The combination of the brown sugar and vinegar gives this soup a wonderful twist that makes it different from your standard bean soup.

    Now here are some variations that I make. Instead of frying up 1/2 a pound of bacon, I use a teaspoon or so of liquid smoke which you can find in the grocery store near the barbeque sauces and other condiments. I want the smoky bacon flavor, but my cholesterol is off the charts so I try to limit bacon and I have found that I don’t really miss it that much in this recipe.

    If I don’t have molasses on hand, I’ll use a little maple syrup instead, but I think the molasses are better.  Plus molasses, particularly blackstrap molasses, are a good source of iron which is often deficient in the diets of most women.

    I have on occasion forgotten the onion and didn’t miss it.

    Cooking is one part art and one part improv.

    Have a great weekend!


    1. TeacherMommy says:

      This sounds very, very yummy. I’m thinking about digging into the pitiful remnants of my grocery money (needs to last until the 10th!!!) and getting the few things I need.


      November 6th, 2009 at 8:14 am

    2. Bonnie says:

      Ooh, this sounds delicious! Thanks!

      November 6th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    3. Allison Burleson says:

      LOVE IT! This sounds so good, especially since the weather in Birmingham is supposed to be quite chilly this weekend! As for the organizing of all the recipes that I cut out of magazines/papers/etc, I have them organized in a three ring binder with those plastic page protector thingies. I have them tab divided by appetizer/main dish/dessert/etc. No table of contents or anything crazy like that. This works for me because I can just pull out a page and then wipe it off after I’m done. I am adding this recipe to my binder this weekend! Thanks AM!

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:07 am

    4. Howdy says:

      I’ve got red beans and rice on my agenda this weekend – I picked up a huge ham hock the other day… mmmm yummy. We have been eating lots and lots of homemade soup this fall so far and my husband is now taking it for lunch – so we eat a couple suppers of soup and the rest goes into the freezer for lunches. The other day I cleaned out the freezer of all the little leftovers that I never used for my lunches and dumped it all in a pot with vegetable stock.

      I thought my husband might complain about soups for supper – but he’s really enjoying them and they are filling. I’ve also noticed my jeans are fitting a little less snug… and I can’t argue with that at all.

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:08 am

    5. Rebecca in Colorado says:

      oh, similar to “Teacher Mommy,” my hands are tied because I don’t have any money to spend ’til Sunday. We’re doing a reduced-spending experiment this month and have allotted a certain amount each day…and I’m currently a little in the hole! (Darn Tae Kwon Do session payment!)

      Anyway, “bean soup” to me usually means cooking dry beans – for hours in Colorado’s high altitude. THIS is a dump-and-heat recipe that I will enjoy trying sometime SOON!

      * * *
      I really really admire Teacher Mommy’s and your reduced spending efforts. Dried beans are a lot cheaper, but I never remember to soak them the night before. I should be a better steward of my money and my beans!

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:19 am

    6. Heidi says:

      Looks delicious. I know I have Bush’s baked beans on hand. May daughter loves them so much she’ll heat them up for a snack.

      The recipe file? Like you, they are written on any sort of paper product. I especially love the ones that are written by my loved ones – my grandma, my great aunt, even my daughter. I love seeing their handwriting every time I open my recipe file. I couldn’t stand to replace those with a perfectly written and matching 4×6 card.

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    7. Michelle says:

      This sounds yummy and easy. I will certainly be trying this, thanks.

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:32 am

    8. Kay says:

      This sounds so good! I just wish my crew liked soup… I make this sort of thing and then I’m the only one that will eat it. I still might make it though. It sounds too good. : )

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:37 am

    9. Kate says:

      Can anything substitute for the white beans? I have everything but that….

      * * *
      You can throw in a can of kidney beans or red beans if you rinse them first. I probably wouldn’t use black beans, but pintos would work. And to clarify, by white beans I mean any white bean – navy, great northern, butter, lima…. There is really a lot of room for substitution in this recipe!

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    10. Kate says:

      Oh, and do you cook on high or low?

      * * *
      I would put the crockpot on low. On the stovetop, I would get it hot and then let it simmer on low.

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:40 am

    11. shelly says:

      add hamburger meat if you have a meaty family like me…i would love your crab cake recipe..can’t seem to find the perfect one!!

      * * *
      Um, actually hamburger is the top ingredient.

      November 6th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    12. Tracy says:

      Mmmm, that looks good. But I don’t have any hamburger meat in the fridge or freezer, and need to remember to go buy some today (so thank you for the reminder, since the store I buy at isn’t open on the weekends, and we’re grilling hamburgers this weekend!) We buy local beef from our university store – it’s not organic, but I do like knowing the exact source of our ground meat! And it’s not much more money than the beef at Walmart, and tastes better, so very much worth the extra cost to me.

      I think I’ll print this recipe out and put it in my binder as well. I also do the 3 ring binder for tear outs, print outs, whatever, VERY loosely organized by type of dish – works for me pretty well. Or I might put it in my recipe folder on the computer, which also works for me, but not as well. I prefer having paper copies!

      November 6th, 2009 at 10:50 am

    13. vivian says:

      I’ve eaten your black bean soup and it is so good I don’t think I’d want anything different. I never ever turn on the oven in the summertime, but Fall and Winter are great times to make homemade soups (slowly cooked) and put roasts in the oven. Love these cool days!

      November 6th, 2009 at 11:01 am

    14. Joni says:

      I’ll probably add some pinto beans instead of 2 cans of white beans.

      So is this a family recipe? If so on which side?


      November 6th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    15. Lynn Prtorich says:

      Thank you! Our menu has been too full of chicken lately. Will be trying this today.

      November 6th, 2009 at 11:30 am

    16. Kathy Johnson says:

      This sounds SO yummy, my husband loves bean soup and I know he will love this too. Was wondering, could you put shredded cabbage and diced tomatoes in this too?

      * * *
      My mental palate tells me that the tomatoes and cabbage would not work that well with this sweet chili style sort of soup, but your palate may tell you something different! Try it and let me know!

      November 6th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    17. Bill McNutt says:

      I only count two beans in that. White and baked. Am I missing something?

      * * *
      At one time I think the recipe specified two different kinds of white beans plus baked, but at any rate two cans of white plus one can of baked still equals three.

      November 6th, 2009 at 11:33 am

    18. Jenny says:

      I’m all about easy. I wrote this one down and hope to try it soon.

      Most of my go-to recipes are in a black binder, but I also have a manilla envelope with recipes stuffed in there too. And, I have a few in a recipe box on cards. 🙂 I’m sooo organized… HA!

      November 6th, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    19. Jenny-Jenny says:

      Oh yum! That will go really well with the dinner roll recipe I posted today. I know what’s for dinner tonight! (it’s so cool when I see a recipe that I actually have the ingredients for)

      My mom and sister put together a family cookbook a while back and all my best were put into that. I especially love it because all of my sisters and sil’s favorites were also put in it.

      November 6th, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    20. Aubrey says:

      I have recently made a similar soup, but instead of ground beef, this one called for italian sausage. The sausage really added a nice flavor. I also put in some spinach, for added nutrition.

      I love making soup in the winter.

      November 6th, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    21. Patti says:

      I’m trying to find easy, yummy, healthy, and CHEAP recipes right now, and this fits all my “requirements”!! Thank you so much; I’m goin to make it this weekend.

      November 6th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    22. cheryl says:

      this sounds really good. it reminds me of a bean soup i haven’t made in a while, very much like yours, but also with a can of evaporated milk added and about 2 c. of cooked potatoes chunks (or hashbrown chunks to be super easy and quick). it’s called baked bean soup. i’m gonna try yours this weekend. thanks!

      November 6th, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    23. katherine says:

      this sounds soooo tasty! i think my hubs would love it because he loves loves loves sweet chili. i mean, loves it.

      what struck me most from this post, though, is that “molasses” is plural. who knew?!

      obviously, you did 🙂

      November 6th, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    24. mythoughtsonthat says:

      I will try this! Also: my husband and son now request those Red Lobster bisquits ALL THE TIME! Thanks for the easy great recipes!

      November 6th, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    25. Lynn says:

      Sounds delish!

      But… why is it called three bean soup when there are only 2 kinds of beans in it?

      November 6th, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    26. tom says:

      You had me at bacon.
      Will have to try this.

      November 6th, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    27. Kelly @ Love Well says:

      I keep my recipes in a recipe box. Many of them are tattered and splattered. And yes, I know the recipe for my favorite chili is thin and folded and cut directly from a magazine, and the recipe for my best chocolate cake is on a pink Post-It note that has been in my possession for a long time.

      A few years ago, I thought about cleaning out the Recipe Box and copying over all the magazine clippings, random notes and mangled cards. In the end, I decided I like it this way better.

      November 6th, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    28. Minnesotamom says:

      I have some of my go-to recipes memorized, but most of them are in a binder in my cupboard (loose, yet to be punched…so lazy) or in a recipe box that I’ve had since before I got married. Most of my favorites are tattered and covered in spills, but it’s just “patina,” right?

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    29. Erica says:

      I used to have scraps of paper hanging out in three or four different cookbooks with all the other recipes I was collecting, but they really started to bug me, so I started my own recipe journal. I got one of those big sketchbooks that I like so much and started copying in the recipes I find and love. I only include ones I’ve tried first. I’ve also put a section in the back for menu plans we enjoy and another page for wines we’ve liked. The menu plans especially help when I’m uninspired in planning meals for the week, which I have to do if we are going to make it through the week for Lord’s sake.

      * * *
      Oh my goodness, I would so buy one of those lovely sketchbooks. And I would even fill in the first one or two recipes. And that would be the end of it. And then I’d be back to digging through my ratty brown envelope looking for my Salisbury Steak recipe that I wrote on the back of a pink index card.

      November 6th, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    30. The G=Ma says:

      The three-bean soup will go on next Thursday’s menu plan.

      Since Heck was a pup (as my grandma used to say), I’ve planned out a weekly menu and shopping list. Then the menu (on a quarter sheet of computer paper, cut up for just such things) is put on the fridge with a clippy magnet. After these menus accumulate for a couple of months, I put them in a brown envelope for later recycling.

      I figure that actually planning out six months of weekly menues lets me off the hook for the rest of my life. Or even longer.

      November 7th, 2009 at 1:36 am

    31. milissa says:

      does the kind of vinegar matter? I’m planning to make this today…was wondering if it matters whether I use apple cidar or white? Thanks!

      ps…you are right…I have all the important ingredients on hand…missing the onion and not quite enough bacon, but I figure it will still turn out okay. 🙂

      * * *
      I prefer apple cider vinegar but either would do.

      November 7th, 2009 at 8:25 am

    32. ~*~Jennifer~*~ says:

      I have started putting all my favorites on 3×5 cards. Name on the front, directions on the back and putting them in a box. Not near as fun to sort through. LOL BUT my favorite cook book is getting mold on it. Need to re-do… but… I’ll just have to make new memories. Ü I’m still young… it can be done. :snort:

      November 7th, 2009 at 9:48 am

    33. ~*~Jennifer~*~ says:

      Oh man… I run the 3×6 cards through my printer, forgot to say that. I love the orderly look. Decently and in order… 😉

      November 7th, 2009 at 9:49 am

    34. milissa says:

      Thanks. It’s in the crockpot. 🙂 Looks super yummy. Looks like chili which I think will appeal to the man of the house…but the flavors just seem much more appealing to me that regular chili. I will be serving this with cornbread. I figure any recipe that winds up in the favorite box must be yummy.

      November 7th, 2009 at 9:52 am

    35. Wendy says:

      I was given this cookbook:

      from a friend of mine. It is fantastic because it has everything a normal cookbook has, but all of the pages are blank. From there you copy, tape, glue, etc your favorite recipes into it. I LOVE mine!! It is so easy to organize your favorite recipes into!

      The soup looks great! Definitely something I would love to try cooking!

      November 7th, 2009 at 10:44 am

    36. Nan says:

      BEANS! I love beans. Will try this soon. My fave recipes used to be in a smallish three-ring binder, but the spine is broken and now it’s a “Recipe Heap”. My friend says my recipes are “scratch and sniff”, they are so smeared. I say they are “lick and taste”.

      November 7th, 2009 at 11:46 am

    37. Dawn @ My Home Sweet Home says:

      Just copied to my recipe file. I’ve got a new crock pot, so I need to stock up the recipes!

      November 7th, 2009 at 11:56 am

    38. Julie says:

      My recipes are in a binder. I tape them to pieces of regular paper and stick them in a plastic sheet protector (that way they are easy to clean off if my four-year-old gets happy while he’s stirring:)

      Bean soup is a favorite — we used canned pinto beans this week. Mighty tasty! Never thought about using baked beans, though. Sounds yumm-o.

      November 7th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    39. Becky says:

      Your cheesy biscuits were a big hit around here, so I’m trusting your ‘brown envelope’! Besides it sounds yummy. Onto this week’s menu plan! Thanks for sharing. It’s so much fun to find a good new recipe.

      November 7th, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    40. Becky says:

      Forgot to say that I took all of my ‘holiday’ recipes and made 4×6 cards out of them which I had printed like photos. Then I put them in those cheap photo books to pass on to my kids.

      November 7th, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    41. Dee from Tennessee says:

      I don’t actually cook, but one day…..I plan to. I’ve collected what I think are “tried and true” from coworkers, friends, newspaper, etc. and they are stuffed in a gallon ziplock bag. I just ordered two cookbooks which is insane in itself since I don’t cook (PW’s and Tasha Tudor’s for the illustrations), and now I’m getting all these ads about attending gourmet cooking classes….

      * * *
      I have a ton of cookbooks, but the one I use most is just the basic Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with the red and white checked cover (although I swear my old one was a Betty Crocker cookbook). My mom bought me one when I was about 18. I wore it out and recently bought another. It’s very basic and I recommend to all beginning cooks. And you can’t beat a church cookbook for really good, down home recipes.

      November 7th, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    42. snarflemarfle says:

      Oh, yummy! This is going on the menu for next week!

      November 7th, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    43. MM says:

      I have to second the Better Homes and Garden cookbook. I’ve got about two dozen books, but this one is my “go to”. LOVE IT!

      November 8th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    44. Elicia says:

      i made a family cookbook for my mom’s birthday with online publishers, blurb, which has all our favorite and most used recipes.

      November 9th, 2009 at 12:41 am

    45. trixiefan says:

      I made this soup this weekend. It was very good. Thanks for the great, easy recipe!

      November 9th, 2009 at 10:40 am

    46. desi says:

      Cooking this right now…smells heavenly!

      November 9th, 2009 at 11:42 am

    47. Tammy says:

      I had to smile when you said this recipe had vingar in it… my mother-in-law always said to “put a little vinegar in your bean soup to help take the snapper effect out”! 🙂

      November 11th, 2009 at 2:29 pm

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