This was one of our go-to dinners when we were getting grocery deliveries in the Netherlands – we only got groceries once a week and we were broke, so I never ordered enough fresh veg to last the week through. The last three days of the week were always pantry meals like this one, especially in the winter months.
Despite the simple ingredients, it is absolutely delicious, filling, and packs a vegetable punch. With tomatoes, potatoes, onions, and garlic, it’s still going to taste great and have plenty of nutrition. The beans add protein (a whopping 26 grams per serving!) and a lovely creamy texture.
Like everyone right now, we’re feeling the pinch with grocery prices and inflation, and this pinto bean soup is in our standard weekly rotation. I think the cost is about 30 kroner (around $3) for the whole pot and it serves four.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
This is a perfect pantry recipe, using only long-lasting or canned ingredients. You can add to it but it’s a great empty-fridge meal.
- Just 11 ingredients: including all the spices, even salt, this recipe needs less than a dozen total ingredients.
- Less measuring: the recipe calls for a standard can of tomatoes and an equal amount of water – just fill the can with water to measure (and rinse it in the process!).
- You can add to it: consider this a base recipe that you can add seasonal vegetables to. More on this below.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Beans: these can be cooked or canned, it doesn’t matter, but be sure to drain and rinse very well if using canned pinto beans.
- Potatoes: no need to peel, just give them a good scrub and remove any black spots or eyes. Both starchy and waxy potatoes work well here.
- Spices: if you don’t have/like smoked paprika, sub sweet paprika in its place or omit if preferred.
- Tomatoes: you can use fresh tomatoes in an equal amount if they’re in season, with no changes needed to the recipe.
- Toppings: serve with tortilla chips or homemade tortillas, pickled onions, and avocado or avocado aioli.
Step by Step
1. Fry onions: cook the onions over medium heat until translucent, then add the garlic and potatoes.
2. Add the spices: stir the spices through and cook for another minute.
3. Add tomatoes: pour in the tomatoes and water, then stir in the beans.
4. Simmer: bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked.
This is a great base recipe that can be jazzed up throughout the year. Replace some or all of the potato with sweet potato, carrot, or pumpkin, add corn, mix in some hardy greens. Keep the base the same and you’ll always end up with a delicious soup.
While the soup is perfectly good without any toppings, adding tortilla chips, avocado, and pickled onion as pictured adds nice textural and flavour elements. Think tomato soup and croutons – just as good without, but it’s nice to have them.
How to Store
Storage: cool fully, then refrigerate in a sealed container for 2-3 days.
Freezing: freeze the soup in airtight containers for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating as usual.
- Season to taste: not only with salt, but keep your spice tolerance in mind as well. As with any soup, but especially when potatoes are involved, it should be tasted and seasoned as needed before serving.
- Rinse those beans: if using canned beans, you should never dump the whole can into a soup. Drain, rinse very well, and then add to the dish.
- Add acid: if you’re not using pickled onions to top the soup, be sure to add a squeeze of lemon or lime (or even a dash of vinegar). This is part of the seasoning process.
More Warming Soup Recipes
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Spicy Pinto Bean Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 medium potatoes diced (2cm (3/4 in.) pieces)
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes to taste
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 400 grams canned tomatoes
- 400 ml water
- 400 grams pinto beans cooked or canned, rinsed well
- Heat a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil.1 tablespoon olive oil
- Once the pot is hot, add the onion. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent.1 medium onion
- Add the potatoes and garlic and stir. Cook for another minute to brown the garlic slightly.3 cloves garlic, 2 medium potatoes
- Add the cumin, salt, hot pepper, paprika, and black pepper. Stir to combine, cooking for about 30 seconds to release the oils in the spices.1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Add the tomatoes, water, and beans. Stir to mix, then increase the heat and cover to bring the soup to a rolling boil. Once the soup reaches a boil, decrease the heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.400 grams canned tomatoes, 400 ml water, 400 grams pinto beans
- After 20 minutes the potatoes should be fork-soft and the soup is ready to serve. Taste and season if needed, then serve hot with any desired toppings.