The best way to warm up this fall and winter using canned beans is to make soup! This pinto bean soup uses canned beans and potato for a creamy texture that happens to be vegan. Although, I won't judge you for adding a few slices of bacon to the pan! Garnish with finely minced white onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime for a cozy classic you'll make again and again.
We absolutely do not play favorites when it comes to beans around here, but we can rattle off the the best traits of each bean quickly.
When we think of pinto beans, we know of their smooth, creamy texture. We love the way they melt into any dish and readily absorb any flavors they come into contact with. This is why we love them in Vegetarian Enchiladas with spicy green chiles.
We choose pintos for this bowl of incredible soup because they almost melt while cooking. The potatoes bring vegan creaminess as they mash easily with a spoon before serving. Fire-roasted tomatoes are the welcome acidity in a bowl of pintos with Mexican-inspired dried herbs and spices: oregano, cumin, coriander and smoked paprika.
The ingredients for this pinto bean soup are pantry staples for me, and I hope they are for you, too! With just 2 cans of pinto beans, a few root vegetables and spices similar to the ones used in my Lentil Tacos, you'll have soup in less than an hour.
- Olive Oil. Any type of neutral oil for sautéing the vegetables is all we need here. It doesn't need to be extra virgin, since we're cooking with it.
- Onion. One medium white or yellow onion, diced. Do not use a sweet onion.
- Garlic. Two cloves of garlic, freshly minced.
- Canned Tomatoes. I prefer a 15-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes, if I can find it. The smokiness of the roasted tomatoes goes so well with the smoked paprika in this recipe. If you can't find it, a regular can of diced tomatoes works.
- Carrots. Two medium carrots, peeled and sliced into coins.
- Potatoes. Using just one peeled and diced Russet potato brings so much creamy starch to this pinto bean soup recipe.
- Pinto Beans. This recipe calls for two 15-ounce cans of pinto beans, but you can also use 3 cups of my instant pot pinto beans.
- Spices. Beyond salt and pepper, we also need dried oregano, ground cumin, dried coriander, and smoked paprika.
- Vegetable Broth. A low-sodium vegetable broth is what I use to keep this soup vegan, but if I'm adding bacon, I swap in chicken broth.
- Garnishes for serving: A bowl of warm, cozy soup is made even better with garnishes. For this pinto bean soup, I add very finely diced onion, lime juice and fresh cilantro. Bacon bits are also great on top, too!
How to Make Pinto Bean Soup
Luckily, this recipe only requires one pot to make, and it comes together in less than an hour. When the soup is done, I like to use a fork to mash about half of the ingredients in the pot to release the starch in the potatoes and make a creamy soup. You could also use an immersion blender to do this.
First, heat the olive oil in a soup pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the diced onion and saute while stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.
Add all remaining ingredients to the pan: the tomatoes, carrots, diced potato, beans, salt, pepper, spices and vegetable broth.
Bring this mixture to a simmer, stirring often. Place the lid slightly ajar on the pot, and simmer until everything is very tender and soft, about 30 minutes. Taste a potato and carrot to ensure they're tender.
Before serving, use a potato masher or fork to break up about half of the soup. We're just smashing the potatoes to release some starch to thicken the soup and make it creamy. Serve with garnishes.
- Vegan/ Vegetarian - This recipe, as-written, is completely vegan. However, check your label for the vegetable broth, because sometimes it can contain non-vegan additives.
- Protein - I would be remiss if I didn't talk about how lovely this soup is with bacon. To make a bacon pinto bean soup, omit the olive oil. Instead, sauté 3 chopped slices of bacon in the pan. Remove the bacon as it crisps, and then use the bacon grease to cook the onions and everything else. Serve the soup with the crispy bacon bits on top. This soup would also be great with leftover diced ham stirred in just before serving. If you have a ham bone, you can add it at the beginning of the cook time, remove it and shred the meat to stir back in before serving.
- Beans - I want you to use whatever beans you have in your pantry, so know that you can use white beans for this recipe. Don't miss my white bean soup recipe.
Leftover soup is such a gift in the fridge, because the flavors seem to get better the next day. Once the soup is completely cool, transfer it to food storage containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also pack it into freezer safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge overnight, and rewarm on the stove until hot. You can add an extra splash of broth if it seems too thick.
Don't miss all of my vegan bean recipes here.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium Russet potato, peeled and diced
- 2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Optional for serving: finely diced white onion, lime juice, cilantro
- Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the diced onion and saute for 5-7 minutes, until starting to turn golden brown around the edges and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.
- Next, add all remaining ingredients (tomatoes with their juices, sliced carrots, diced potato, pinto beans, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and vegetable broth.
- Bring this mixture to a simmer, stirring often. Place the lid on the pan slightly ajar, and cook while stirring occasionally until the potatoes and carrots are fully cooked and very soft, about 30 minutes.
- Before serving, use a potato masher to smash up about half of the soup. Just randomly smash and break up the vegetables until everything is about half-way pureed. If you want a super smooth soup, use an immersion blender, or puree the soup in batches carefully in a high-speed blender. (Be careful, as steam builds in a blender and can cause an explosion).
Serve the soup garnished with raw white onion, cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime.
Vegan/ Vegetarian - This recipe, as-written, is completely vegan. However, check your label for the vegetable broth, because sometimes it can contain non-vegan additives.
Protein - I would be remiss if I didn't talk about how lovely this soup is with bacon. To make a bacon pinto bean soup, omit the olive oil. Instead, sauté 3 chopped slices of bacon in the pan. Remove the bacon as it crisps, and then use the bacon grease to cook the onions and everything else. Serve the soup with the crispy bacon bits. This soup would also be great with leftover diced ham stirred in before serving. You could also add a ham bone at the same time as the beans and simmer.
Beans - You can use the same amount of canned white beans for this recipe.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 190Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 761mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 8g
Frequently Asked Questions about Pinto Bean Soup:
I like to serve this soup with cornbread muffins or tortillas that have been charred over a flame. I spread butter on the muffins and in the tortillas before rolling them up to serve.
To make this instant pot pinto bean soup, saute the onions in oil using the SAUTE function on the instant pot for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and spices, and saute for 1 more minute, while stirring. Hit CANCEL on the instant pot, and then add all remaining recipe ingredients. Then, select HIGH PRESSURE on the instant pot, place the lid on and make sure the valve is set to seal. Adjust the timer to 5 minutes, let it come to pressure to cook, and do a forced pressure release at the end of the cook time. Carefully remove the lid, stir, and serve with garnishes.