Kentucky Soup Beans (Pinto Beans)

Elizabeth D


Soup beans are Appalachia's answer to Northern bean soups -- pinto beans in a thick bean and meat broth, hot, tasty and filling. No visit to my grandmother was complete unless she made these and a couple pones of her wonderful cornbread, and there were never any leftovers, either!

Crumble in a piece of cornbread to soak up that good soup, add a side of cooked turnip, mustard or collard greens and you've got yourself a delicious high-fiber, nutritious (and authentically Appalachian) winter meal. For those who want more of a kick, I recommend Fiesta pinto bean seasoning. Enjoy!


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8 Hr 30 Min
3 Hr
Stove Top


  • 1 lb
    dried pinto beans
  • ·
  • 1/2 - 1 lb
    smoked hog jowl, salt pork or ham hocks
  • 1 small
    sweet yellow onion
  • 1 clove
    garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp
    fiesta pinto bean seasoning (optional)
  • ·
    salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Kentucky Soup Beans (Pinto Beans)


  1. Rinse beans and pick out any stones or clumps of dirt. Put in a pot, cover with a couple inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to soak overnight.
  2. When you're ready to cook, drain soaking water and beans into a colander and rinse. Put beans into a big pot with a lid. Cover with water again to about an inch above the beans. Cut up hog jowl or salt pork (rinse the salt pork first) and add to pot. Peel and chop onion and garlic and add both to pot. DO NOT ADD SALT.
  3. Bring to a boil and boil uncovered for five minutes, then turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer for two to three hours, stirring occasionally, or until beans are very soft and the skins break open if you scoop out a spoonful and blow across it. Taste to make sure they're done to your liking.

    [Note: Cooking in a covered pot results in more liquid than cooking in an uncovered pot. If you like a lot of 'soup', cover the pot; if you prefer your beans to be thicker, leave off the cover. My grandmother half-covered hers, and I do as well.]
  4. Take the meat from the pot, separate the fat from the meat, chop up the meat and add it back to the pot. Take a half cup of beans from the pot, mash them lightly with a fork until they're a paste, and stir them back into the beans to thicken up the 'soup'. Add salt, pepper and Fiesta pinto bean seasoning (if desired) to taste and serve.

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