The problem with buying bags of multi-bean soup mixes is that it includes a seasoning packet which is very salty and not that great as seasoning. They also require the addition of ham and bacon. Which, of course, means even more salt added to the soup. I’ve discovered a trick to get around the addition of meat-salt combo without flattening the flavor.
I usually have several types of dry beans, peas, and lentils in the pantry. I buy them in bulk from Central Market and many stores now have a bulk section where you can get a wide assortment of beans. You can buy as much or as little as you want or need. I usually get a good amount of all types of beans which can be cooked by type or added to soups. These will keep a long time in a sealed container, but not forever, so I use multi-bean soup as a way of using up small amounts of beans left over before restocking. I have the ingredients for this soup on hand all the time, with exception of the Anaheim peppers, though in a pinch you can add a can of canned green chilis instead of fresh peppers.
2-3 cups mixed dry beans and peas (7, 9, 10, 13, 16)
1 large onion
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatos
2 Anaheim chilis
Dried herbs and seasonings
Tabasco or other similar hot sauce
Liquid smoke (optional)
Cover beans with water. Soak overnight and drain.
Add bean mixture, 2 qts. fresh water (a bit more if you use more beans) plus the can of diced tomatoes and the onion and pepper to Crockpot. Add seasonings such as thyme, marjoram, parsley, garlic powder. I don’t measure; I just sprinkle. It’s hard to go wrong. I don’t use premixed seasonings which have salt added. (Conventional wisdom is that salt at this point would interfere with the beans absorbing water. I don’t know if that’s true, but you can always add salt later if you want.)
Add a few shakes of the hot sauce. This you can go wrong with. The relative hotness of various sauces varies quite a bit. For instance, After Death Sauce is hotter than Tabasco because it’s made with habenero peppers. Know your sauce and use it sparingly. Better for the seasoning to be mild and people spike the soup with more sauce in their own bowls than make it too hot to eat.
Cook on Low in the Crockpot 4-6 hours.
(If you want to cook this in a big pot on the stove, bring to a boil then simmer for 3-4 hours.)
About a half hour before it’s finished taste and season with salt and pepper, if you wish. Add some liquid smoke if you want. It doesn’t take much. A small amount 1-2 tsp should be enough for most tastes.
Flavor improves over time, so the soup will taste better the next day.