Grandma's Depression Plain Bean Soup

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yes there is a definite story here. Grandma back in the 1940's apparently made this soup (my mom told me) using some of the leftovers from the weekly meals. They grew their own garden so almost everything that went into the soup would be fresh. Left really chunky with using a knife instead of a food processor. Her meats would consist of either bacon, ham bone, or even chicken, whatever meat there was she would use it up because nothing went to waste. I happened to have a few chicken legs left from last nights dinner and bacon leftover from breakfast. Before going to bed last night I prepared  pinto beans ( that's what I had in the pantry) in the crockpot overnight.
Grandma always soaked her beans overnight and either used navy beans or northern white beans.

 So here is how we make plain bean soup a little modernized, or as the family called it depression so
up. Mine is made with her flavorings but no chopping everything veggie wise goes into a food processor, still has that great flavor ... so here's my lazy version.

Beans:  3 cups of beans of your choice canned or  soaked dried freshly cooked suggestions :(  navy, white, pinto, red, black beans)

All going into the food processor:
1 whole carrots peeled and cut up
2 stalks of celery cut up
1/2 of a white onion (optional )
1 whole cleaned clove of garlic
1 whole beefsteak tomato
1 head of escarole chopped  (optional)
grating cheese
Pulse all together till pureed, add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, parsley and basil stir and set aside.

In a 5 quart saucepot, add water half full, add meat of choice below. Ham bone preferred but she used whatever they had in the house from leftovers. Boil the broth with meat around 1 hour.

Suggestions to use:2 chicken legs, ham bone or other kind of meat like sausage or powerful flavoring
2 to 3 tablespoons of crumbled bacon

Remove meat add all pureed vegetables from the food processor, add beans.

In this pot add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until beans thicken the broth slightly.
Serve hot with crusty Italian bread to soak up the juice or saltine crackers and of course some grating cheese.  A very tasty soup sure to satisfy a hungry bunch in your family!


  1. If that's the 'lazy' version, I'll take it! It looks so good. Love the background info on it. Next time I'm eyeballing that leftover chicken, I know what to do with it :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. right now, the only thing depressing is not having this on the menu planner this weekend, would make such a fine soup for lunch today as the 'cool snap' came through last night.... great memories Claudia

  3. I love bean soups! This looks delicious! My husband and my families all grew up on beans and cornbread. It's still a regular meal in both of our families.

  4. Some of the best meals came out of that time - out of necessity. And if Grandma made had to be good!

  5. As I wrote to another blogger friend a short time ago, what you have done here is, for me, the essence of the blog experience. I learned the art of soup making in adulthood. My mother didn't do it from leftovers and I can't remember much about grandma's cooking (except her suet pudding and cream puffs).

  6. Are you joking, Claudia? lazy version or not, I'm a bean soup lover, plain, or loaded with veggies, and/or Italian sausage...either way, Your soup looks so comforting and super delicious:DDD

    The award that was given to me, I mentioned about the list, and I do believe you are on the former list, with the previous blog awarded. Please grab the award from Mina...I'm not making out another list. I really would like to pay it forward to you. You deserve it well!!!

  7. This soup looks lovely, Claudia. It is a wonderful way to use up the leftovers in the refrigerator!
    Have wonderful weekend!

  8. When I lived in Germany bean soup was a staple at many resturants. Ths looks like a great and simple recipe.

  9. Everyone needs a recipe that takes care of leftover and heartily feeds! Your grandmother was so wise and this is one tasty soup made from "a little bit of this. A little bit of that." One of the grandest things about blogging is now these recipes will never be lost in time.

  10. Your soup brings back a lot of memories. My grandparents/parents too, ate a lot of bean soup that was very similar to this one. Thanks for sharing.


  11. Looks delicious I love beans soups they are my favorite.

  12. I love lazy versions LOL But seriously, I do love your vintage recipes and family stories. Beans, bacon, escarole. Really can't ask for much more :)

  13. that looks simple yet very sumptuous! love bean soup -

  14. This looks hearty and comforting! My Dad would love it!

  15. Nothing plain about way to prepare a soup :) Lovely!

  16. Now I know what I'm doing with my Easter ham bone...yum!

  17. Delicious soup, and thanks for sharing bit history!
    Have a great week!

  18. Looks amazing! I love the speaks volumes!

  19. Lovely post and a great recipe to go with it! Thank you for sharing this... I loved reading it!!


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