Heirloom Bean and Vegetable Soup

Prep: 20 minutes (plus 8 hours for soaking) Cook: Varies


By Meredith McCarty DC, NE
Heirloom beans are native, non-hybridized beans with names like Anasazi, Scarlet Runner, Red Calypso, Steuben Yellow Eyes, Rattlesnake, Christmas or Chestnut Limas, Gigandes, and Swedish Brown Beans. Anasazi beans, also called Painted Desert Beans, have been cultivated in America since 1100 A.D. The name means "ancient ones" or "predecessor" in the Navajo language. They have a pinto-like flavor. Find heirloom beans in specialty food stores and some natural food stores.


  • 1 cup heirloom beans (Anasazi, etc.)
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 inch piece kombu sea vegetable
  • 1 onion, diced, or leek white, cut in 1/4-inch half moons
  • 4 garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, cut in 1/4-inch half moons
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 red potato, cut in 1/2-inch dice (or parsnip, rutabaga or turnip)
  • 2 cups winter squash (10 ounces kabocha), peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • water
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • fresh herbs, (1/2 cup or 3/4 ounce fresh basil with 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary), chopped
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup white miso or part light barley miso
  • 1/2 bunch arugula or parsley, chopped, or cooked hardy greens such as kale


Sort through beans by spreading them on a white plate in batches. Rinse, drain and soak 8 hours. (Or, if you are especially sensitive to the gas in beans, repeat this process: drain beans and soak in fresh water for another 8 hours, or until bubbles form, around 24 hours.) Drain beans.

Bring beans and fresh water to boil in pressure cooker or in a 2-quart pot. Turn heat low to simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, then add bay leaf and sea vegetable. Cover and cook by either method, 20 to 60 minutes in pressure cooker (less with Anasazi beans, more with garbanzo beans/chickpeas), or 45 minutes (for Anasazi beans) to 3 hours in a pot adding more water as necessary. Vigorously whisk kombu to dissolve it in the hot bean broth. Makes 2 1/2 cups Anasazi beans.

In a 3-quart pot, place vegetables, salt, and water to barely cover, about 3 cups. Bring to boil then turn heat to medium to cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add tomato, herbs and pepper with beans and some of their broth. Cook a couple of minutes more. Dissolve miso in a little of the hot soup broth and add to pot. Stir in greens and serve.