Russ’s Raid-the-Fridge Bean and Vegetable Soup

In cooler weather months, The Hubs likes to make weekly pots of soup, perfect for lunches, or evenings when we don’t feel like cooking. In this instance, he took stock of what we had lurking in the refrigerator and pantry and devised a recipe based on a previous Tuscan-inspired soup as a general template.

In addition to green bell peppers, we also needed to use up some hatch peppers, jalapeños, and some little red peppers that were gifted to us. We had all of the rest of the ingredients on hand too. A slice of homemade, whole-grain focaccia toast with a schmear of roasted garlic paste rounded out the meal.

Keep in mind that you need to soak the beans overnight in salted water, to soften the skins. Add the tomatoes toward the end of cooking, since their acid keeps the beans from becoming too soft.

Russ's Raid-the-Fridge Bean and Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Table salt
  • 1 lb. dried Navy beans, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 1-lb. ham hock
  • 1 large onion, chopped medium
  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 jalapeños, small chop
  • 3 green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 4 cups ham or chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. Cajun spice
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sprig fresh marjoram


  1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add onion, celery, jalapeños, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 10 to 16 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic, Cajun spice and smoked paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Remove pot from oven and stir in tomatoes. Cover pot, return to oven, and continue to cook until beans are fully tender, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
  6. Remove pot from oven and submerge marjoram sprig in stew. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the ham hock, stripping it of any usable meat to throw back into the soup. Discard bay leaves and marjoram sprig and season soup with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. If desired, use back of spoon to press some beans against side of pot to thicken stew. Serve over toasted bread, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil.

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