3 pounds grass-fed beef soup bones
3 onions, sliced
3 Cloves of garlic, crushed
2 16 oz packages of 15 bean soup
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder to taste
Rinse beans in a colander, discarding damaged ones. Combine all ingredients in a 12-quart stockpot, filling to the 12 quart mark with water. Simmer for 6-12 hours.
Thanks to a generous gift from a community member, we came into possession of oxtail and soup bones from grass-fed beef! We set right to work making this delicious soup.
There isn’t much meat on a soup bone — the real magic is inside. When you boil the bones, you extract collagen, amino acids, and supportive micronutrients from the marrow and connective tissue in the bones. Starting with good quality bones, grass-fed if you can, is important, so we were really excited when these came our way. If you want to extract even more goodness, you can splash a little vinegar in while you boil the bones.
We threw the bones, sliced onions, and a couple packs of 15 bean soup into a sixteen quart stockpot. We discard the “ham flavoring” packets — we find a ham flavoring packet that touts itself as vegetarian suspect — and rely on good old salt, pepper, onions, and garlic powder to season. Go lightly at first — the soup will concentrate some as it boils. The majority of your seasoning should be done close to the end. That said, you need some flavoring in there the whole time, so go ahead and don’t be shy — if you haven’t cooked for a huge crowd before, the amounts of salt and pepper will seem obscene, but I do start with 1/4 cup of seasoning minimum and estimate I add another 1/2 cup at least over the cooking and tasting process.
We drop it on the burner and let it sit all day on the lowest setting of our gas stove. It’s basically a gentle simmer all day long — a few little bubbles rising, but not hard boiling. Keep the lid on so it doesn’t reduce too much. A good brisk boil for the first hour or so, if you can keep an eye on it, will help but isn’t necessary. Stir it and say nice things to it from time to time so the beans don’t stick to the bottom and get burned and gross.
Stir, taste, and when in doubt, remember that if you can taste the salt, you put in too much. If you added too much salt, just add some water and taste it again — no big deal. It’s soup, and very forgiving. Remember our houseless neighbors, especially in the summer, may be dehydrated, so aim to go a little under salted than over salted. It’s easy to add a little extra salt to a hot soup for someone who wants a little more, but you can’t take it back out.
The 15 bean soup is a great workhorse, nutritionally speaking. It covers a huge range of micronutrients, vitamins, and, especially critically for our houseless neighbors, is a great source of fiber. Boiling the beans for such a long time eases the gastrointestinal effects that beans are touted to have, and instead is just a fabulous source of nutrient rich fiber. It’s also plenty of protein, and excellent preventative medicine for heart conditions and helps stabilize blood sugar.
We make rice to go with this meal — it’s incredibly hearty, nourishing, and comforting to have some buttered rice in a bowl with warm bean and bone broth soup.
For packaging to share with a crowd, these are great in the 16 oz deli containers with lids. A 3/4 cup scoop of rice and a 6 oz ladle of soup is a perfect fit and a hearty full meal, especially with some sweets and/or bread to go along with.