Some time ago, I bookmarked this recipe and wanted very desperately to make it, but never had the time. It was hot today (over 80°), but in a few days the temperature is expected to drop almost thirty degrees. So I figured that today would be a good day to make it because like all bean soups, it is probably better a day or two down the road.

Unfortunately I didn’t have canned black beans, fresh garlic, or canned green chilies. So I substituted dried pinto beans for the black beans, granulated garlic for the fresh garlic, and guajillo chili powder for the canned chilies. I also wanted to avoid using canned beef broth, and just used water instead.


  • 1 T oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/4 t cumin
  • 1/2 t dry oregano leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t granulated garlic
  • 1/2 t guajillo chili powder
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil to smoking. Add the carrots and celery and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Add the onion and continue cooking until the vegetables are softened, approximately ten or fifteen minutes.
  2. Add the spices and salt and continue cooking, stirring all the while, another five minutes.
  3. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Add the rinsed beans, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Cover loosely with a lid and simmer for one hour or more, until the beans are tender. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Remove the bay leaf and allow the soup to cool slightly. Blend in a blender or food processor, or better yet, with an immersion blender.


I really wanted an easy to make dish with ingredients I had on hand. Pinto beans taste quite different from black beans and have a slightly different texture, so it’s not quite the soup I had imagined (I will still make that one someday), but it’s still quite tasty*. Lots of good vegetables and plenty of fiber. I omitted the lime juice simply because I didn’t have any, but that would add a nice piquancy if added just before serving.

This didn’t turn out exactly like I imagined the original recipe would. Pinto beans have a delightfully smoky flavor which is quite distinct from black beans. In fact, this soup bears an amazing resemblance to refried beans. Incredibly delicious refried beans. If I don’t have black beans next time, this is what I would do differently:

  • I would add two cups more of water, so that it has a consistency more like soup and less like refried beans. This is especially important the next day.
  • I would add more spices, including fresh garlic.
  • I would add a bell pepper or a poblano pepper to the vegetables.
  • I wouldn’t puree it so much, but would leave it a bit chunky.
  • I would take pictures. This looked absolutely beautiful just after I added the beans and water.

I will definitely make this again, hopefully with something other than pinto beans. That reminds me that I have some peruano beans that I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with—this might be just the perfect recipe.

*I watched this episode of Star Trek: The Original Series while I was cooking this. It might just be my imagination, but I think Star Trek makes all foods taste better. Geek on!

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