Soup Beans


Soup beans speak instant comfort to anyone who has familial connections from Appalachia, where every garden produced shelling beans that could be eaten fresh or grown to maturity for dry beans.

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 10 mins
8 servings, 3/4 cup each

Why Are They Called Soup Beans?

Soup beans are an Appalachian bean dish traditionally made with pinto beans, but can be made with any type of dried beans. This thick, stew-like meal is typically served as a main dish with cornbread, greens, pickled vegetable relish and diced sweet onion.

What's the Difference between Soup Beans and Bean Soup?

The differences lie in the ingredients and the texture. Soup beans are beans that are slowly simmered in water for a couple of hours until they're soft and tender. The beans are flavored with ham, onion and garlic. A portion of the beans are mashed and returned to the pot to create a thick and creamy texture. Bean soups are broth-based and the beans are typically left whole and cooked with a variety of ingredients, although some recipes use a similar method as soup beans for a creamy texture.

What's the Nutritional Value of This Recipe?

Pinto beans are highly nutritious with several health benefits. Per serving, our soup beans recipe is low in calories and packed with protein, fiber and essential nutrients. This easy dish is one of the many reasons why you should eat more beans.

Additional reporting by Jan Valdez


  • 1 pound pinto, yellow-eyed or other dried beans, sorted and rinsed (2 1/2 cups)

  • 12 cups water

  • 8 ounces finely diced ham, (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1 medium onion, peeled

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper


  1. Place beans, water, ham, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper in a large Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender and beginning to burst, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If necessary, add an additional 1/2 to 1 cup water while simmering to keep the beans just submerged in cooking liquid.

  2. Remove from the heat; discard the onion and garlic. Transfer 2 cups of the beans to a medium bowl and coarsely mash with a fork or potato masher. Return the mashed beans to the pot; stir to combine.


Large Dutch oven

To make ahead

Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

226 Calories
2g Fat
35g Carbs
18g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 226
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 12g 43%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 18g 35%
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 13mg 4%
Vitamin A 25IU 1%
Vitamin C 10mg 11%
Folate 230mcg 58%
Sodium 517mg 22%
Calcium 75mg 6%
Iron 3mg 17%
Magnesium 76mg 18%
Potassium 682mg 15%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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