Bruine Bonensoep

"I don't pray for brown beans," little Bart said, pulling his plate away when his mother tried to serve him his dinner. Young Bart Bartels is not alone: few like the brown beans served as a vegetable because of its mushy texture. But put these tan pulses in a soup and you'll find that the texture contributes to a hearty, thick, wonderful stew. The typical Dutch brown cooking beans called "bruine bonen", or in Bartje's dialect from Drenthe, "bruune boon'n", are not available in the United States unless home-grown or purchased from a Dutch store.

Bartje was the main character in two books written by the author Anne de Vries, during the mid nineteen thirties. Bartje is a young boy who lives in a rural village in the province of Drenthe, in Holland's north-east. Brown beans were standard fare for the poor and during one episode, he refuses to say grace, as he's sick and tired of eating them. Needless to say, this earns him some spanking!

You will not encounter such rebellious behavior at the table when you serve this brown bean soup. If you're not able to find any, this soup will also work well with pinto or pink beans.

Bruine Bonensoep
2 cups of beans, dry
1 bay leaf
1 medium size onion, peeled
3 cloves, whole
1 leek, sliced
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup of diced celeriac root
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 handful of celery leaves, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 Kielbasa or 10 smokies

Wash, rinse and soak the beans the night before in sufficient water. The next day, drain, rinse and add to a cooking pot with enough water to cover the beans. Poke the cloves in the whole peeled onion, take the bay leaf and the thyme and add these items to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook the beans until done. This may take up to an hour or two, depending on the age of the beans.

When the beans are done, dispose of the onion, cloves, bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Take out two cups of cooked beans. Purée the rest of the beans. You may have to add some water or stock if the soup is too thick at this point. Add the remaining fresh vegetables and the bacon to the soup, and simmer for another twenty minutes. Add the kielbasa or the smokies after that until they're hot, and stir in the two cups of beans you've set aside earlier. If you're using kielbasa, remove it after ten minutes, slice it in thick chunks, then return the meat to the soup.

Taste, adjust with pepper and salt if needed, and serve hot with thick slices of whole wheat buttered bread. 


  1. I made this today however I changed it a little.

    I cooked the beans in a bbq-ed/smoked chicken stock. The nightbefore I had some rack of lamb cooked on my smoker/bbq and added the bones as well. It made it very good.

    I also found a way to print the recipe:

    On my browser I enlarged the recipe; then took a picture with my camera and printed it. Works great!!


  2. Thank you for posting this recipe, and for your blog, which I have just discovered. My husband is from Germany but his parents are from East Frisia and the cooking and customs are very similar. We have visited the Netherlands twice and need to go back ASAP. I made this soup today, using Swedish brown beans, and it was a big hit. I plan to try some of your other recipes!

  3. I use light red beans.Fresh ham hocks or pigs feet or ox tails!I cook the beans and meat together until beans are soft about 90 mins do not soak beans!Then add carrots,celery,onions and cook another 30 mins!comes out great!!


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