Updated with Pressure Cooker Instructions! See recipe notes for more details.
A big pot of bean soup with smoked turkey or ham is one of my favorite post-holiday meals because if its simplicity and delicious use of leftovers. Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup Recipe rivals traditional ham soup, but leftover ham bone or ham hocks can be substituted. Beans are a great source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals—one meal that can help you keep those New Year’s resolutions to take better care of yourself. Navy, Great Northern, Cannellini, pinto, black-eyed peas, or the 15 bean concoction sold in stores are all good choices for this recipe, so feel free to use whatever type you like best. Our favorite is Cannellini, which are like a white kidney bean with a soft, creamy texture.
Yes, you can smoke your own turkey, but you don’t have to.
If you don’t have a smoker to make your own smoked turkey at home, Diestel Smoked Turkey Drums & Thighs make it easy to get the sweet, smoky flavor bean soup demands. We prefer Diestel brand because of their sustainable farming methods and natural, hardwood smoking process. The flavor is pleasantly smoky and lightly seasoned, giving me more control over the amount of salt. Each thigh or drumstick is individually wrapped so it’s easy to customize the amount or combination you want. In this case, two smoked turkey thighs provide plenty of meat for 5 quarts of hearty soup.
Stove top, slow cooker or pressure cooker instructions included.
I’ve prepared this soup in a slow cooker or in my stockpot for years, but lately I’ve been using my pressure cooker to make soups faster (see notes in recipe). The beans cook beautifully in the pressure cooker, however, the meat doesn’t quite get to the fall-off-the-bone stage in such a short time, but the flavor is the same. You can use canned beans if you’re in a pinch for time, but we prefer the taste and texture of dried beans along with a cup of lentils to naturally thicken the soup as they break down (no need to soak these).
Note: Yellow or red lentils are best so the color brightens the soup; brown or green lentils can make the soup look dingy.
Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 2 hours
- Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: About 5 quarts
- Category: Soup, Turkey, Beans
- 2 cups dry beans (soaked)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion — chopped
- 2-3 stalks celery — chopped
- 2-3 large carrots — chopped
- 2 cloves garlic — minced
- 4-5 quarts of Basic Chicken Stock, or chicken broth
- 2 Diestel Smoked Turkey Thighs or Drumsticks
- 1 cup lentils (unsoaked)
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 2 cubes of homemade beef bouillon or 1/2 cup concentrated beef stock (optional)
- 2 teaspoons Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- Sea salt and pepper — to taste
- Dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in 4 quarts water in a large pot. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse well.
- Chop onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Heat oil in large soup pot or pressure cooker over medium heat and cook onion, carrot, and celery caramelized. Mix in garlic and cook until fragrant. (If using a slow cooker, transfer softened vegetables to the cooker at this point and continue with remaining instructions.)
- Stir in soaked and rinsed beans, lentils, turkey thighs or drumsticks, and bay leaf to the pot; cover with broth or stock. Be sure to add enough liquid to cover with 2-3 inches above ingredients to allow beans to absorb liquid. Additional water may be needed. *See Note for pressure cooker method.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours on the stove or 4-6 hours in a crockpot set on low. Add spices and bouillon the last hour or so, adjust until desired flavor is reached. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Before serving, remove bones and large pieces of turkey from the pot; allow to cool slightly on a platter. Once cool enough to handle, separate meat from the bones and any unappealing connective tissue. Return meat to the pot and discard bones.
- Serve with cornbread and honey-butter.
Pressure Cooker Method: Once the onion, celery, carrot and garlic are softened, add all the ingredients to the pot, including spices. Bring soup to pressure based on manufacturer’s instructions. Reduce heat enough to keep at pressure for 15 minutes. Beans should be soft and ready for salt and pepper, to taste.
Before serving, remove bones and large pieces of turkey from the pot; allow to cool slightly on a platter. Once cool enough to handle, separate meat from the bones and any unappealing connective tissue. Return meat to the pot and discard bones.
Optional additions or substitutions: turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, kale, red bell pepper, or hot green chilies
Smoky bean soup and sweet cornbread go together like movies and popcorn.
I cannot imagine one without the other. Whatever you do, don’t forget the whole grain cornbread—start with one piece in your bowl to soak up the broth and crown another one with butter and honey (this also qualifies as dessert).
More bean recipes to stir your appetite:
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