Ancho Pinto Bean Soup recipe

Ancho Pinto Bean Soup

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An ancho chile puree gives this pinto bean soup a rich and hearty flavor. These dried peppers have a mild to medium heat and a slightly sweet taste compared to other chiles. To bring out their flavor and make them more pliable to work with, you need to toast them on a dry skillet over medium-high heat until they become soft and fragrant. Then, remove the stems, seeds, and veins and simmer the chiles in a small saucepan of water for 10 minutes to rehydrate. Finally, blend the chiles with their cooking liquid in a blender until smooth and strain out the solids with a wire sieve. This smooth sauce forms the base of this delicious soup, and the extra step in preparing the chiles makes all the difference in its flavor and consistency.

To enhance the soup’s flavor even more, we prefer to use dried beans instead of canned ones. It takes some extra effort to prepare them, but the taste is worth it. The quick soaking method is the easiest, but you can also find the instructions for the overnight soaking method on the bean package. Choose the one that suits you best. Below are the directions for the quick soak.

Serve this soup with sour cream, lime wedges, avocado, and cilantro leaves.

Dried Ancho Chile Peppers

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Ancho Pinto Bean Soup


  • 1 pound pinto beans
  • 3 ancho chiles – Explore The Spice House | Shop Now
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Sour cream, lime wedges, avocado, and cilantro leaves, for serving


Soak and Cook the Beans

Sort the beans in a colander and remove any rocks or debris. Rinse under cold running water. Place the beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring the water to a rapid boil and continue boiling for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with a lid. Let the beans stand for 1 hour. Drain in a colander and rinse with water.

Return the beans to the pot and add enough fresh water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, set the lid slightly ajar, and reduce the heat to low or medium-low. Makes sure it still has a steady bubble. Cook about 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the beans are tender. You can use the back of a spoon to push a few beans into the side of the pan. They should mash easily when done. Drain the beans and set aside.

For the Chile Puree

Heat the chiles on a hot, dry pan set over medium-high heat. Press down lightly with a metal spatula until they’re soft and fragrant. Flip them over and do the other side. This should take about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the chiles and let them cool a little, so you can handle them safely. Cut open and discard the stems and seeds. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add the chiles. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place the chiles and the cooking liquid in a blender and puree until smooth. Set a large mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the puree through, scraping and pressing the mixture against the bottom and sides until only the solids are left. Discard the solids. Set the puree aside until ready to use.

For the Soup

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat and sauté the onions and green bell pepper, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 30 to 40 seconds. Clear a spot in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste; stir another minute or so until it’s brick-like in color. Add the broth, beans, chile puree, diced tomatoes, oregano, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Uncover the pan, turn up the heat slightly to medium-low (enough to keep a lively simmer) and cook uncovered another 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro and 2 tablespoons lime juice.

Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, avocado, and cilantro leaves, if desired.

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