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Soup Beans (+Video)

These Soup Beans are super flavorful, warm, with a hint of smokiness, and bring all the deliciousness you expect with an Appalachian comfort food dish like this.

A HEARTY APPALACHIAN MEAL

If you’ve spent any time in Appalachia, you will be very familiar with this dish. This humble soup beans recipe is sure to satisfy everyone’s bellies. If you’ve got a leftover ham bone you are needing to use up, this is the recipe! With basic pantry ingredients and minimal effort, you can create the most flavorful beans you’ve ever eaten! Perfect for a weeknight dinner or a Sunday lunch!

A spoon in a big bowl of Soup Beans.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ’S):

What are Soup Beans?

Soup beans are best known as an Appalachian dish. They are pinto beans that are cooked in a flavorful broth with a ham bone until thickened. They are slow simmered “soupy beans” – hence the name soup beans. It’s a humble and simple dish that goes way back.
Usually ham hocks aren’t great for much, but they are excellent in flavoring other foods. I love to use them for Collard Greens.

What do you serve Soup Beans with?

Traditionally, Soup Beans are served scooped over some Cornbread and then get topped with some diced onions or Chow Chow or both! Chow chow is a southern style relish that you see more frequently in the Appalachian regions but has become more popular throughout the southern states.  

Do I have to soak the beans overnight?

Soaking overnight (or a minimum of 8 hours) is the key to getting this to a shorter cooking time and helps them cook more evenly. It can also make them a bit easier to digest.

Do I have to use both ham hocks and bacon?

I love the addition of both ham hocks and bacon for the flavor aspect. However, you can just use one or the other if desired. But just remember that using ham hock is traditional for Soup Beans. If you aren’t using bacon, I suggest cooking the onion in 2 tablespoons of butter, because it’ll give a little more flavor to the dish that you’ll miss otherwise.

Can I make this in the Crockpot?

Yes. I would still cook the bacon and soften the onions first before adding them to the crock pot. Then, after soaking the beans, add everything to the crock pot and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the beans are very soft. Keep in mind, when doing it this way, you’ll have more liquid than the stovetop version because it won’t have the chance to evaporate like it would on the stove.

What if I don’t have ham hocks?

A smoked turkey neck, ham bone with some meat still on it, or fat back works as well. Ham hocks are what you would normally see in a soup beans recipe though.

How to reheat leftovers?

Reheat your leftovers on the stovetop or in the microwave.

How to store leftover Appalachian Soup Beans?

Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days, or you can freeze them for up to 3 months.

A large white bowl of Soup Beans with a spoon in it.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • dried pinto beans – for this to be like the traditional soup beans recipe, they need to be dried then soaked. If you want a shortcut and want to use canned pinto beans, see my Slow Cooker Soup Beans recipe.
  • bacon – this is optional but I found when I had some leftover bacon to use up, I added it to these and it just took them to the next level. We loved the added flavor.
  • small sweet onion – a mild onion is what you want here but if you can’t find a sweet onion, just get a regular yellow onion.
  • garlic cloves – try and use fresh garlic not the jarred stuff here. Again, this is optional in soup beans but I think you’ll really love what it adds to the overall flavor.
  • chicken stock or broth – you could also use chicken broth. If you want to keep the sodium lower, you could use a low sodium chicken stock. In addition, you can make your own chicken broth as well.
  • ham hocks – see my FAQ’s above on substitutions.
  • bay leaf – if you don’t have these on hand, it’s okay to leave it out. It adds a lovely seasoning to the beans but it is not absolutely necessary for this to taste good.
  • sweet paprika – you could also use smoked paprika if you really want to bump up that smoky flavor.
Ham hocks, bacon, onion, pinto beans, garlic, chicken stock, paprika, bay leaf, salt, and pepper.

HOW TO MAKE SOUP BEANS

Go through the pinto beans to make sure there are no rocks. Place them into a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Cover with plastic wrap and sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight. Drain the beans well and set aside.

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Reserve the bacon fat and take out the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon; reserve on the side for serving.

collage of two photos: pinto beans after soaking in water; bacon pieces cooking in a dutch oven.

Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes; scrape any browned bits from the bacon off the bottom of the pot. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.

collage of two photos: cooked onion in a dutch oven; minced garlic added to onion in pot.

Add the chicken stock, beans, ham hocks, bay leaf, paprika, and pepper, and stir to combine.

collage of two photos: during chicken stock into dutch oven; adding in ham hocks, bay leaf and paprika into the dutch oven pot.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1-2 hours until the beans are very soft, and the liquid has thickened slightly. Take out the ham hocks and remove some of the meat to put back into the pot. Also, remove the bay leaf.

collage of two photos: soup beans after they have simmered for a couple of hours in the pot; a spoon scooping up some of the beans out of the pot.

Taste and add salt if needed. Serve immediately with bacon on top as a garnish.

Looking down on Soup Beans in a white serving wall.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

Close up looking at a white bowl of Soup Beans.

Soup Beans (+Video)

An affordable, Appalachian dish that is hearty and filling.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours 25 minutes
Soak Time: 8 hours
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock (you can use low sodium if you prefer)
  • 2 ham hocks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt, to taste

For serving:

  • cornbread
  • sliced onions
  • chow chow

Instructions

  • Go through 1 pound dried pinto beans to make sure there are no rocks. Place them into a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Cover with plastic wrap and sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
    Drained and rinsed pinto beans in a glass bowl.
  • Drain the beans well and set aside.
  • In a Dutch oven, cook 6 slices bacon, chopped until crispy over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Reserve the bacon fat and take out the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon; reserve on the side for serving.
    Cooked bacon and bacon fat in a Dutch Oven.
  • Add 1 small sweet onion, diced and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes; scrape any browned bits from the bacon off the bottom of the pot.
    Cooked onion in bacon grease in a dutch oven.
  • Add 4 cloves garlic, minced and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds.
    Garlic and onion in a dutch oven.
  • Add 6 cups chicken stock, beans, 2 ham hocks, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika and 1 teaspoon black pepper and stir to combine.
    Garlic, onion, chicken stock, ham hocks, bay leaf, paprika, and pepper in a dutch oven.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1-2 hours until the beans are very soft, and the liquid has thickened slightly.
    Simmered Soup Beans in liquid in a Dutch oven.
  • Take out the ham hocks and remove some of the meat to put back into the pot. Also remove the bay leaf.
  • Taste and add salt, to taste. Serve immediately with cooked bacon on top along with cornbread, sliced onions, and/or chow chow (if preferred.)
    A ladle holding some Soup Beans in a Dutch oven.

Video

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 486kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 19g | Sodium: 483mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 6g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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