Home, cooking: Creamy pinto bean soup

When we travel, we take a quilt along for company—usually, it’s “A Hundred and One Buddhas”. Laid over hotel bed covering, it immediately establishes a sense of home. Once we’re back in our own bedroom, it’s the first thing out of the suitcase.

One hundred and one Buddhas

I revel, I luxuriate in being home—oh to stretch out in my own bed under slippery sheets and a warm, fluffy cloud comforter; use my favorite knife and cast iron skillet; watch the sun come up through the living room window; monitor the hummingbirds as they click and joust over sugar water; drive my little silver Ford Fiesta to the Y where I swim laps to music on my new Waterfi IPod (courtesy of Ginny); wear my new purple raincoat (courtesy of the Sweetie), with minimal rustle, out into the deluge, and watch HD programs on recorded TV or Netflix, without those mind-numbing commercial interruptions. Oh yes, it’s great to be back.

Nothing much happened while we were gone—the 501’s courtyard cracks were repaired, the window washers came, my favorite condominium residents moved, most of the leaves have fallen into yellow/scarlet carpets beneath the trees, the big Tudor house down the block finally sold, snow is falling in the mountains, it’s dark by 4:30, Carrie Mathison is in danger again, Fred (the fish) died, and the Christmas cactus bloomed.

Cool weather calls for hearty fare, and this soup fills the bill: cheap, easy, and high in calories.

Creamy pinto bean soup

  • 1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans, covered with water and soaked overnight
  • 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 diced Roma tomato
  • 4 cups chicken broth or water
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


  • Salsa Fresca
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup cotija cheese
  • 1/2 cup crema or sour cream

Salsa: In a bowl, stir together diced tomatoes, fine-dice red onion, chopped cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Rinse beans well, place in a saucepan, cover with water, and soak overnight. Drain beans, recover with water plus 50%. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the smallest bean is cooked through and creamy inside, about 1 ½ hours. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil. Sauté garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, and chili powder over medium high heat until onions are translucent and soft. Add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add beans, liquid, and chicken broth, cook until beans are very soft—30-45 more minutes.

Transfer mixture to blender container or use wand blender. Blend until completely smooth, adding more bean broth or water if needed to make mixture blend properly.

Return to saucepan, simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, to allow flavors to blend. Add heavy cream and simmer for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

To serve, ladle soup into shallow bowls and garnish with fresh salsa, avocado, cheese,  and crema.

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5 Responses to Home, cooking: Creamy pinto bean soup

  1. Ginny says:

    I seem to think this is the first picture the author has offered her gentle readers. Finally, we get to see “Marla in the Kitchen”. It does look strangely like “Nikki in the haz mat”

  2. Kathy says:

    Great pictures! Great blog! Did you make the quilt? It’s beautiful. The recipe sounds yummy. Love your coat!

  3. Jenni says:

    Love everything about this post except the moving part!

  4. Lara says:

    Wish I was buying the Tudor–such a great neighborhood!

  5. Lara says:

    Wish I was buying the Tudor–such a great neighborhood!
    You DEFINITELY need to buy more of the new jacket color— It’s awesome on you !!!

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