Pinto bean soup

Pinto beans are affordable, easy to prepare and nutritious, in Hungary they are a commonly used ingredient in many savory dishes like simple pinto bean soup or Jókai bean soup. Pinto beans are highly nutritious, and research suggests that eating them may help provide protection against many chronic illnesses. They are gluten- and cholesterol-free and are rich in protein, fiber and folate.

With the right growing conditions and plenty of sun, you can grow your own pinto beans right in your backyard garden, and enjoy them in a variety of recipes year-round. We grow a beige type with brown speckles, which has a thin skin and is easy to digest. When these pito beans are cooked, they turn reddish-brown and have very soft flesh. The following pinto bean soup is an old, more than 100 year old family recipe, that comes from my maternal great-grandmother.

Pinto bean soup
Pinto bean soup – photo:


  • 300 g (~2/3 lb) pinto beans
  • approx. 2-2,5 l (~8 1/2 – 10 1/2 cups) water or stock (a lot of liquid is absorbed and also evaporates while the beans are cooking)
  • 2 bouillon cubes if you don’t have stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 2 heaping tbsp flour
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tsp smoked or normal, sweet paprika powder
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
Homegrown pinto beans
Homegrown pinto beans – photo:

Soak pinto beans in cool water overnight.

The following day drain and rinse the pinto beans, put them in a pot, add water or stock, bouillon cubes if necessary, salt and bay leaf, and cook until beans become tender. While cooking, add more water or stock as needed.

Meanwhile make the roux in a separate pot. Heat lard, add finely chopped onions and saute for a minute. Add flour and cook, while stirring constantly, until the roux turns blond. Turn off the heat and stir in the paprika. Let the roux cool completely.

Once the beans are tender and the roux is cool, add the beans with the cooking liquid to the roux, stir continuously until it boils. Cook for 4-5 minutes, then turn off the heat. In a small bowl combine sour cream and some hot soup, then in a fine stream pour the mixture into the soup while stirring. Serve hot.

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