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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.

EatingWell Magazine, Soup Cookbook; updated December 2022


Recipe Summary

10 mins
2 hrs 10 mins

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 difference between soup beans and bean soup are the ingredients and the texture of the dish. 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


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

  • 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

3/4 cup
226 calories; protein 17.6g; carbohydrates 35.2g; dietary fiber 12.1g; sugars 0.5g; fat 2.1g; saturated fat 0.6g; cholesterol 12.8mg; vitamin a iu 25IU; vitamin c 10.3mg; folate 230.4mcg; calcium 74.5mg; iron 3.1mg; magnesium 76.1mg; potassium 681.6mg; sodium 517.2mg; thiamin 0.4mg.

2 starch, 1 1/2 lean protein