Pinto Bean Soup with Grains

Pinto beans are delicious plain or lavishly garnished. (Plain, these are the beans to use for refried beans.) Many cooks prefer using a pressure cooker to produce silky smooth beans. Serves 6 to 8.


2 cups pinto beans, soaked for 4 hours or overnight

1 small onion, finely diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium red onion, diced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried or fresh epazote


For garnish: slivered scallions or finely diced white onion, diced jalapeño chile, chopped cilantro or mint, sour cream.
For grains: wheat berries; brown rice, wehani, wild rice; tiny grains, like amaranth and quinoa.


1.  Drain the beans, cover them with 2 quarts of water, and boil for 10 minutes.

2.  Add the onion, garlic, oregano, and epazote. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

3.  Season with salt and serve plain, with the broth, or with two or three of the garnishes.

4.  If using a pressure cooker, cook everything together on high for 25 minutes, then release.

5.  Cooking grains: Wheat berries and other large grains take about 2 hours to cook on top of the stove or 30 minutes in the pressure cooker. Brown rice, wehani, and wild rice take 35 to 45 minutes on the stove. Tiny grains, like amaranth and quinoa, can be cooked right in the soup in 15 to 20 minutes.

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Deborah Madison

Deborah Madison

Deborah Madison is an American chef, writer and cooking teacher. She has been called an expert on vegetarian cooking and her gourmet repertoire showcases fresh garden produce. Her work also... Read more>>  

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