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Orca Bean Soup Recipe with Bacon and Sage

As I write this, we actually had some fall weather arrive in New Orleans last night. It’s so lovely here when the weather is nice. It’s the type of day where you enjoy being in the sun. It’s warm and comforting; not hot and stifling like it’s been for the last few months. We got a taste of fall earlier this month and now this is our second. It probably won’t last long – our weather here in New Orleans does’t stay consistently cool until November or so. But I’ll enjoy it while I have it! Yes indeed – October is our (Jeremy + me) favorite month here in New Orleans because we get tastes of fall – the first breaks in the soul-crushing heat. Yay, October!

Orca Bean Soup with Bacon and Sage

To celebrate fall and the fact that it’s probably cool where you are right now, I’ve created a warm and satisfying orca bean soup recipe for you. This is the third and final partnership that I’d forged with Bob’s Red Mill this summer/fall. I really hope that you’ve been enjoying these dishes. (To remind you, we did Tex-Mex Tabbouleh in August and Weekend Breakfast Freekeh in September). This month I opted to try orca beans, the beautiful little black and white heritage beans you see below. They’re rather mild in flavor overall, but that’s great because they serve as a lovely backdrop for tasty ingredients like bacon, mushrooms, and garlic (yes, all of those things are in this soup!)

Orca Bean Soup with Bacon and Sage

Of course you all know that Bob’s Red Mill is famous for its top quality grains and cereals. What you may not have known is that they specialize in particular varieties of beans as well. The orca beans they sell are grown in the Pacific Northwest. Orca beans are naturally high in dietary fiber and iron plus they pack 10 grams of protein per serving. When doing my research for these beans, I noticed that a few people said to soak overnight, but these Bob’s Red Mill orca beans don’t need to be soaked overnight. They actually cook in under an hour. Best part is that they don’t get all squishy and fall apart when they’re cooked right. They retain their shape along with the duo-tone color, although the black fades into a purply-brown-ish color. You can see in the photo below that there’s still contrast, and it sure makes for a lovely addition to a soup.

Orca Bean Soup with Bacon and Sage

This soup is pretty easy to make overall. It’s really just about adding ingredients to the pot and layering on the flavors. You’ll need to par-cook the orca beans separately, though, because the beans turn the cooking water jet black – definitely not good for soup! But the good news is you can reuse the beans pot for your soup pot. It’s technically a one-pot meal, just done in two steps! Also, if you don’t like using bacon, you can use a smoked ham as the seasoning meat. That would be delicious as well. For you non-pork eaters (yes, there are some people who don’t eat pork), you can omit the seasoning meat and use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. That’ll give you a good protein base as well as make the soup richer in flavor and composition.

Orca Bean Soup with Bacon and Sage

Finally, as with my other two previous Bob’s Red Mill contests, we’re partnering to give away a $50 Bob’s Red Mill gift card along with a 22 ounce bag of orca beans. As always, you can enter in the Rafflecopter widget below. The contest will run until Wednesday October 22, 2014 at 12:00am CST. It’s open to adults over age 18 with United States mailing addresses. Of course, you know that I have many ways for you to enter. Enter early, enter often – that’s my motto! Thanks for participating!

Orca Bean Soup with Bacon and Sage

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Yield: 4-6 servings

Orca Bean Soup with Bacon and Sage

This orca bean soup recipe feature features bacon, sage, carrots and green onions. It's perfect for a chilly fall evening!


  • 1 1/2 cups orca beans, rinsed and sorted
  • 6 cups water
  • 12 ounces bacon, trimmed of fattiest areas and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 cup of finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup of finely chopped carrots
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage, divided
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion tops


  1. Start by par-cooking the orca beans. Add the beans to a pot with four cups of water. Cover the pot and bring the beans to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, until beans are tender but still intact. While those are cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients.
  2. Once the beans are done, drain and rinse them to cool them. Set aside for use later in the recipe.
  3. In a soup-sized pot that you have a lid for, add the trimmed and chopped bacon. Render it until it’s crispy and slightly browned, about 15 to 18 minutes.
  4. Drain off the excess fat and return the pot to the stove over medium high heat.
  5. Add the onion, celery, carrots and kosher salt. Stir well and cook until veggies are softened and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the shiitake mushrooms, stir well, and continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until mushrooms are softened and shiny.
  7. Add the garlic, stir and allow to cook until garlic is fragrant, about a minute.
  8. Add in the vegetable broth, half of the sage, and the par-cooked beans. Stir well and cover the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  9. Simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the beans cook evenly.
  10. After 30 minutes, stir in the rest of the fresh sage and the green onions then serve.

Prep:40 min

Cook:1 hour 25 min

Total:2 hour 5 min

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