Creamy and bursting with Latin flavor, this Mexican Pinto Bean Soup will please your taste buds as well as your pocketbook!
I don’t usually write about frugal recipes, although I rarely purchase expensive ingredients. Most of what I buy is what I would consider mid-range.
I buy organic when I can, and since we don’t eat a lot of processed foods it’s easy for me to keep my grocery bill relatively low (uh, for a food blogger that is).
I’ve always found that we save money by purchasing lots of fresh produce, meats, dairy, and bulk items like rice and beans instead of loading up on boxes of cereal and instant mashed potatoes.
By and large, my favorite destination in my local grocery store is the bulk section.
When I can convince the husband to accompany me to the grocery store (I don’t like to carry the bags by myself, wahhh), I love to drive him nuts by spending forever in the bulk section.
This is us:
Me: “Babe, can you seriously believe how cheap lentils are?! It’s like they’re just GIVING them away.”
Husband: “Mhm.” *checking fantasy football stats on his phone*
Me: “And just LOOK at all of these different types of pasta. I’ve never even heard of this one, look, it’s like a weird little swirly doo-dad!”
Husband: “Yup, mhm, pasta.” *staring at the mullet on the guy standing next to us*
Me: “Isn’t it outrageous how expensive pine nuts are compared to everything else?”
Husband: “What are pine nuts? Hey, did we remember to get green bananas?”
(Side note: I forget to get bananas approximately 40% of the time. I have to buy the very greenest bananas they have in the store because the husband only likes to eat them when they are nasty and under-ripe. Then, once they get all good and ripe, I eat the rest of the bunch. So, on the first three days of the grocery week, the husband eats bananas, then I get to eat bananas for the next four days.)
This is marriage.
So why all this talk about bulk foods? If I sit here long enough and think about where I was going with this story, I might just get back to it.
Ah, yes, I wanted to talk about the frugality factor in this Mexican Pinto Bean Soup recipe!
Right, so bulk pinto beans are outrageously cheap. The other main ingredient in this Mexican bean soup recipe is yellow onion, which is also one of the cheaper things you can buy at the grocery store.
You’ll also need some chicken broth (super cheap if you make your own from chicken scraps!), garlic, salt, pepper, vegetable oil, and a little bit of cayenne pepper and cumin.
You can totally buy cayenne pepper and cumin in the bulk section, by the way. Just putting that out there.
This recipe isn’t part of my 30 Minute Monday series because, well, it takes longer than 30 minutes.
I have to warn you that this isn’t something you can start on a weeknight and expect to have on the table any time before 10pm.
Pinto Bean Soup is something you plan to make on a day when you are putzing around the house in your slippers, folding laundry on your couch while watching Matlock reruns.
It takes hardly any effort, but it does require some boiling and simmering time.
Topped with some sour cream, avocado, and fresh salsa, taking a bite of this soup is like digging into a warm 7-layer bean dip. But you feel less guilty about it for some reason. Which is an amazing thing.
Make a big batch and freeze the leftovers in mason jars. You’ll be happy you did!
For a vegan pinto bean soup, swap a vegan alternative for the chicken broth, here is the one I recommend and you can get it from Amazon if your store doesn’t carry it:
Here’s What You’ll Need:
A 6-quart or larger Dutch Oven, like this beauty from Lodge
A large-sized frying pan (I used my Jumbo Pan)
A hand-held immersion blender (or use your counter top blender)
Here’s the Recipe!
- 1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
- 7 cups water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 4 cups diced yellow onion (about 2 large onions)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Sour Cream, Avocado, and Fresh Salsa for serving (optional)
- Sort through the beans to remove any debris, then rinse them under running tap water. Place the rinsed beans in a 6-quart or larger Dutch oven or other lidded pot and add 7 cups of water. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Let simmer for 90 minutes.
- When the beans are done cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 10 minutes, until browned and softened. Add the garlic, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Saute for 60 seconds. Add the cooked beans and any remaining liquid from the bean pot into the skillet.
- Pour the chicken broth into the pot and turn the heat to medium-high. Once the liquid reaches a boil, turn the heat down to medium and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup*. Taste and add salt as needed. If the soup seems too thin for you, continue cooking it uncovered until it reduces to your desired thickness
- Serve topped with salsa, sour cream, and avocado.
*Alternatively, puree in batches in a counter top blender, using caution not to burn yourself with the steam.
For a vegan pinto bean soup, swap a vegan alternative for the chicken broth, here is the one I recommend and you can get it from Amazon if your store doesn't carry it.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 223 Total Fat 12g Saturated Fat 1g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 10g Cholesterol 1mg Sodium 83mg Carbohydrates 25g Fiber 6g Sugar 6g Protein 8g