Soup Beans

The name of this dish refers to any type of bean served up in a thick broth as a full meal. We chose pinto beans, but navy, lima, or red beans would be well suited.

Soup Beans
Makes 6 Servings
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
  • ⅓ pound thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • ¼ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped carrot
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 9 to 10 cups water, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce, plus more to serve
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Herb-Pecan Cornbread (recipe follows)
Herb-Pecan Cornbread
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cups plain yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2½ cups whole buttermilk, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped pecans
  1. In a large bowl, combine beans and water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain.
  2. In a medium Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. (Reduce heat if necessary to prevent overbrowning.) Remove bacon using a slotted spoon, and let drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in pan.
  3. Add onion, carrot, and celery to pan; cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook until garlic is fragrant and vegetables are softened, about 1 minute. Add beans, 8 cups water, and bay leaf; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender, 2½ to 3 hours, adding remaining 1 to 2 cups water when needed to keep beans submerged.
  4. Stir in bacon, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Discard bay leaf. Serve with Herb-Pecan Cornbread and additional hot sauce.
Herb-Pecan Cornbread
  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Pour oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Place skillet in oven until oil is very hot, about 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, sage, and rosemary. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs. Add buttermilk mixture to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in pecans. Carefully pour batter into hot skillet, smoothing top with an offset spatula.
  3. Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, loosely covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Dry beans can be made on the weekend and reheated for dinner during the week, but using canned beans is a great time-saving short cut. Substitute 4 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained, for the dry beans. Add them as directed in step 3 and reduce water to 4 cups. Cook until beans reach desired consistency.


Leftover beans are a great addition to burritos, tacos, and chilis.

Extra cornbread can be made into croutons for soups and salads.