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Pinto Beans with Chiles

Pinto Beans with Chiles

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  • 2 dried ancho chiles,* stemmed
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Recipe Preparation

  • Place chiles in bowl. Pour 2 cups boiling water over. Let soak until chiles are soft, about 20 minutes. Strain, reserving 1/2 cup soaking liquid. Seed chiles; place in processor. Add onion, garlic, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup soaking liquid; puree. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill.

  • Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add chile puree; stir until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Add beans, broth, bay leaves, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Reviews Section

Tarascan bean soup

La primavera (Spring) has arrived in the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. Mornings are still a little chilly, but the days warm up quickly. Soon it will be too warm to think about a hot bowl of soup, but that time has not yet arrived.

This soup is inspired by Tarascan Bean and Tomato Soup, a hearty soup recipe in Diana Kennedy’s book, The Cuisines of Mexico. Mrs. Kennedy writes that the the recipe is from Michoacán, and named after the Tarascan Indians of that state. It looks easy enough to try. I’m all for easy these days. And how can you go wrong combining beans, chiles and tomatoes?

If you already have some cooked pinto beans and fresh tomatoes, Tarascan bean soup comes together fairly quickly. You could use canned tomatoes, but it’s worth taking the time to blister fresh tomatoes over a flame for that incomparable roasted flavor. It only takes minutes. And I hope you have a Mexican stocked fridge and pantry. Some dry chiles, corn tortillas, a cheese that melts, maybe some Mexican crema (but that’s not essential for this soup).

Pinto beans are rarely seen in central and southern Mexico. They are a staple of northern Mexico and the American southwest. After telling friends that pinto beans aren’t found in central Mexico (much to their surprise), I was presented with a bag when they next returned from north of the border. Thoughtful friends. Great soup.

Tarascan Bean Soup Serves 4-6

  • 3 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans, with bean broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, grilled until the skin starts to blacken, or 1 cup canned cubed tomatoes
  • 2 cups (1/2 l.) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into 1.5″ by 1/4″ strips, fried until crisp
  • 6 pasilla chiles, cut into small strips and fried until crisp (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) thick Mexican crema or thinned sour cream
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese or cubed manchego cheese
  1. Puree the tomatoes, onion and garlic in a blender.
  2. In a large skillet or heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the tomato mixture and simmer for 5 minutes over high heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Blend the beans with their broth until very smooth.
  4. Add the bean puree and oregano to the tomato mixture, and cook over medium heat for for 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add chicken (or vegetable) broth, adjust for salt, and cook 10 minutes more, stirring every few minutes.
  6. Divide among bowls, and pass tortilla and chile strips, crema and cheese.

Diana Kennedy includes instructions for making Mexican style crema for those north of the border. Simply blend 1/2 pint heavy cream with two tablespoon of buttermilk in a glass jar, cover loosely, and allow to set out in a warm kitchen for six hours. Refrigerate overnight and it will thicken. For thin crema, use thin cream, not heavy. If you live in Mexico, crema will be as close as your nearest cremeria or tienda abbarotes. Buttermilk is not to be had for love or money in Mexico, to my knowledge. (If a recipe calls for buttermilk, thin plain yogurt. Or take the longer route: make butter from fresh cream. The liquid pressed out of the butter solids is real buttermilk.)

To fry chile strips, cut out the seeds and membrane of pasilla chiles, cut into small strips, and fry in a little vegetable oil for no longer than 15-20 seconds per side. Over-cooking will turn the chile bitter.

Pasilla chiles, the fried form of the chilaca chile, add a delightful, almost sweet flavor with very little heat.


All photos and text are copyright protected. Do not copy or reproduce without permission.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pounds dried pinto beans (such as Rancho Gordo), soaked overnight
  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 4 ounces dried Hatch or Anaheim chiles (about 18 chiles)
  • 1/2 ounce guajillo chiles (about 5 chiles)
  • 1/8 ounce chiles de árbol (about 5 chiles)
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

Drain beans, and combine with 6 cups filtered water in a 4-quart micaceous bean pot. Cover and cook over low, gently scraping bottom of pot with a wooden spoon occasionally, until beans are tender and creamy, 2 hours and 15 minutes to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, stem, seed, and tear Hatch chiles, guajillo chiles, and chiles de árbol into 2-inch pieces. Cook chiles in a large, dry cast-iron skillet over medium, stirring often, until fragrant and slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer chiles to a medium-size heatproof bowl add 4 cups boiling water. Weight chiles with a plate to keep them submerged let stand 30 minutes. Return skillet to heat over medium, and add garlic cloves. Cook, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots and slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes peel.

Drain chiles, reserving 1 cup soaking liquid. Combine soaked chiles, garlic, vinegar, cumin, sugar, oregano, reserved 1 cup soaking liquid, and 1 tablespoon salt in a blender. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour mixture through a medium mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing solids with back of a spoon to extract liquid discard solids.

Stir remaining 1 tablespoon salt into beans. Let beans settle in cooking liquid. (There should be enough cooking liquid to cover beans by 1/2 inch. If not, stir in up to 1 1/2 cups very hot water, 1/2 cup at a time.) Stir 1 cup of the red chile sauce into beans. (Reserve any remaining chile sauce for another use). Cover and cook over low, scraping bottom of pot occasionally, until flavors meld, about 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste, and serve.

Thick and Hearty Pinto Bean Chili

This thick and hearty vegan pinto bean chili is flavored with dried New Mexico chiles for a deep, rich taste. But don’t worry–there’s an option that uses chili powder to make it quickly and easily.

Mississippi is finally getting a taste of the cold weather that’s sweeping across the country, and though some transplanted Northerners here may think that it’s long overdue, I just want to hibernate. Maybe I’m getting old, but I have no desire to go outside once the weather is below freezing.

Yes, I know that in other places people are dealing with snow and ice and we’re lucky here that we have neither. I can certainly sympathize with those of you who are dealing with severe weather, but that’s why I live in Mississippi. Mild winters are our reward for putting up with humid summers and mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds!

I’m not the only one around here who doesn’t want to go outside when the temperature drops. Though the furry members of the family cope by burrowing under pillows or settling into comforters, I prefer to keep warm by cooking—and eating—hearty stews and soups. Mostly I’ve been cooking up old favorites that have already been featured here: Easy Bean and Vegetable Soup is my go-to recipe when I’m cold and in a hurry, and Beefless Stew is my family’s definition of comfort food. But a couple of nights ago I was craving chili—not pinto bean soup, as some chili recipes turn out, but thick, rich chili.

The recipe I came up with doesn’t differ much from most vegetarian chili recipes, except for the use of dried New Mexico chiles instead of chili powder. I was able to find dried chiles in my local supermarket, next to the refried beans and tortillas. Dried New Mexico chiles can vary in degree of heat, but the Melissa’s brand that I used were fairly mild if you like your chili spicy, you’ll need to add red pepper to increase the heat in this mild, kid-friendly version.

Why It’s Our Award Winning Chili Recipe

The story starts with a small church function. My mom made this chili recipe for a cook-off at her church. It won first place and she brought home a bottle of vodka as her prize. Yet, it was the beginning of something much bigger. This chili recipe went on to win several cooking contests, including an exclusive contest for the University of Georgia parents.

I started making the recipe, as a novice cook, when we first got married. I wanted something warm and comforting for winter.

It makes a huge batch of chili, so you can eat leftovers for a few days. You can cut the recipe in half if you’d like to make it for just a few people.

What To Serve Chili With:

I’m all about toppings for my chili! I love to make a buffet table where guests can come up and serve themselves a bowl, with whatever toppings they like best.

  • Tortillas
  • Avocado
  • Frito Chips
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Cheese
  • Hot Sauce
  • Sour Cream

Pinto Bean Soup with Red Chile and Cheese

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Makes 10 cups


  • 2 cups pinto beans
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mild olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 epazote sprigs, if available, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 New Mexican dried red chile pods, stems, seeds, and veins removed
  • Sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons masa harina
  • Ground red chile
  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
  • 1 cup grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons slivered scallion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Sour cream


Sort through the beans, give them a rinse, and place them in a large bowl or other container. Add enough cold water to cover and let soak overnight.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onions, garlic, epazote, oregano, cumin, coriander, and dried chiles. Give a stir, and then add the beans along with 2 quarts water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until the beans are tender, 1 1/2 hours.

Purée 2 cups beans and any large pieces of chile in a blender or food processor until smooth and then return them to the pot. Whisk in the masa harina and simmer for another 10 minutes. The texture should be soupy yet punctuated with beans. Taste for salt and heat, adding more salt or ground chile as needed.

Ladle the beans and their liquid over rice and then sprinkle with the cheese, scallion, and cilantro, ending with a dollop of sour cream.

Pressure Cooker Variation

To make this pinto bean soup in the pressure cooker, do not soak the beans overnight. Instead, simply rinse and sort them. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker and add the onions, garlic, epazote, oregano, cumin, coriander, and dried chiles. Give a stir, and then add the beans, 3 quarts water (note that this is more water than for the traditional stovetop method), and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Fasten the lid. Bring the pressure to high and then cook, maintaining the pressure, for 30 minutes. Release the pressure quickly.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Elsa M. Jacobson

So simple and so good. It was Cinco de Mayo, and I was looking for something Mexican-themed. This fit the bill perfectly. This is the pot of beans that will have everyone going back for seconds and thirds. Because I do not have a pressure cooker, I soaked my beans before simmering them. At the 1 1/2 hour mark, the beans were indeed very soft. I didn't salt the beans until they were soft. (It may be an old wives tale, but I never salt my beans until they’re fully cooked. I’ve been told that beans will never soften if they’re salted before cooking.) I salted after they were cooked. I removed 2 cups cooked beans and I used a potato masher to easily createe a purée, albeit a bit of a lumpy purée. The large pieces of chile were also easily pureed with this simple method. Additionally, because this meal included a guest with a corn allergy, I did not use any masa harina. The beans were full in flavor and full-bodied nonetheless. The texture was just as described: soupy, yet punctuated with beans. I needed no ground chile either. The heat was just right. We served this over brown rice. I mixed Cheddar and Monterey Jack to create the additional color of orange plus white. I mixed the scallion and cilantro together, because I was confident there were no cilantro-haters in my dinner crowd. I skipped the sour cream and no one missed it. Maybe because it was Cinco de Mayo, maybe because of all of the garnishes, maybe because of all of the wonderful components, maybe because it’s Deborah Madison, this was more than a homey meal. It felt festive and special, which is a gift Deborah Madison has always had in creating recipes and cookbooks full of wonderful recipes. Full disclosure: Some years ago, I took a writing workshop with her, on a farm in Wisconsin. She’s as wonderful in person as her voice is in her cookbooks, and part of the reason I went with a simple pot of beans for Cinco de Mayo was because I felt certain I could trust her, and I was right. This is one terrific pot of beans.

Brenda Carleton

This soup is in my husband's wheelhouse, to be sure. It has his name written all over it! But it was not only he who adored this soup. So did his wife. The recipe gives directions for making this with a pressure cooker, but as I do not have one, I just made it the traditional soup way by sautéeing the onions and garlic and then adding the epazote, cumin, and coriander. Epazote, by the way, is key in this soup. How often do you get to use epazote? Love the stuff. We cannot get it here but I order it online. The soup would still be good without the epazote, but it would not have the same authentic Mexican flavor. Then the beans were added to the aromatics along with the water and dried chiles. Most of the soup was puréed, but some was left as-is, which was really great because the whole beans and chunks of vegetables added a really nice texture. I also made sure to purée all the chiles. Then the masa harina was whisked in along with some ground chile and salt. We served it over hot rice and topped it with aged Cheddar, scallion, and cilantro. A squeeze of lime over all added a fresh punch. Salsa fresca would be good here, too, and that is what we are doing this evening. We loved the texture and taste of the soup and it was so comforting and cozy on a chilly day. Next time I will add another dried chile just because we like the heat. This soup takes a touch of planning as the beans are soaked overnight, but it is so easy and extremely worth it. As the soup is served over rice with all the fix ins, nothing else is needed. It is a complete meal and a very, very satisfying one. Guests would also be impressed with the great flavors. Not only that, but it looks very pretty in a bowl with the colorful toppings. It is just plain YUM.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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For something so simple, this was really good and nice to have on hand. I used fire-roasted tomatoes, forgot to put the orange in (maybe I was afraid based on other reviews) and only had black beans but the flavors developed very nicely after I cooked it down in mushroom-based vegetable stock. It got very thick and tasty. Excellent to have on hand for taco filling, an extra side, or for a healthy lunch over rice. You can't go wrong with this one.

Good but IMHO the orange ruined it. I tried it before adding the orange and it was delicious and then once I added the orange it turned into a big pot of sweet and overpowered everything else. I say start out SLOW with the orange or totally omit.

Great weeknight quick and easy meal. Made with black beans. Added 2 chopped garlic cloves with onion, can of corn, diced red pepper (as per other reviewer) and 1 tsp. cumin.

Well that was easy  and surprisingly good. I think it's the orange zest that makes it (I added a little more). We served it alongside a chiffonade-cut kale salad  perfect for a mid-week supper. I wish I had made extra to freeze.

To my surprise, I liked this. (I had thought that it would be bland . ) I made it as directed, with the exception of adding two cloves of garlic to the onion before adding the chili powder. Be sure to use diced tomatoes that contain green chiles and don't omit the orange zest the zest really pulls everything together. Let it sit and meld together for the best flavor!

The flavors didn't come together for me until we added slices of vegetarian "Smart Sausages", smoked style. We enjoyed it served over bulghur.

Prepared X4 based on the reviews and glad I did. We loved it and so happy I have some to freeze for later, and some for later in the week :) Added bell peppers.

Very good, especially for how very easy it was to prepare! I used black beans in place of the pintos and cut the orange peel to 1 tsp (it's very strong). Especially good if you use a pure chili powder - not a blend

WOW! This was surprisingly good and I loved how colorful it was! I will make this again!

This recipe was so good. I followed the recipe exactly but added a tbs of cinnamon. It was very exceptional. It fed my little kiddos and adults without a complaint. Be bold and add the orange zest, it makes the dish.

This soup is wonderful! I've made it many times before and today I am making it for a big group. With minimal ingredients and using dried beans, it's a cheap, easy vegetarian meal to serve to a crowd!

Of course, the best thing about this recipe is the simplicity of the ingredients and the short time it takes to complete. But the results are quite lovely. A very nice autumn season alternative to the ubiquitous chili.

I liked this a lot, and enjoyed the ease of preparation/healthiness, but it was a little too sweet for my boyfriend. If you like mildly sweet things like Thai peanut curry (I do!), you would like this a lot, but if you find that too sweet, youɽ probably find this too sweet. The orange flavor is really nice, but it also really brings out the sweetness of the sweet potato (and I only used 3/4 tsp). Iɽ definitely use less orange than called for in the recipe, and I think black beans as many have suggested would help cut the sweetness more than pinto beans do. I also think more fresh heat would help, like some serrano pepper.

I've never reviewed anything on Epicurious, but this is one amazing chili. I wasn't expecting much, as the ingredients are very simple, but this completely wowed me. The flavors are perfect together.

As it stands, the town I live in is currently recovering from an epic snow storm and I therefore had to make due with Italian style tomatoes instead of the fire roasted tomatoes and leave out the cilantro at the end. After cooking the onions with jalapeno flakes, I let the sweet potatoes cook as instructed. Once the tomatoes and black beans (instead of pinto) were put in, I added about a teaspoon of cumin, a dash of dried sage, garlic powder (I had discovered that my garlic cloves died of old age), and a pinch of paprika. During this time, I browned a can of corn with crushed red pepper and added it to the mix. As a final touch, I added a splash of orange juice and proceeded to let the mixture simmer for another 5-10 minutes. After placing the chili in bowls, I spooned on a dollop of plain unsweetened yogurt and sprinkled some black pepper on top.

So I read through many reviews and utilized some of the repeated favorites such as black beans, chipotle powder (1/2 dose of the chili powder), corn, garlic and fire roasted tomatoes. I did not delete anything in recipe I also added my favorite, an anaheim chili pepper, sauted. Let me just say this may be the best chili I've ever had (except green chili which is a different animal)! I had leftover tangerine rind so that's what I used but was careful to not over-do it! It turned out perfect! Really wonderful and so many great flavours - I think the orange peel compliments the sweet potatoes!

This was a great stew. I didn't have chili powder so I actually used paprika ( I think, I'm not even sure) and some chili sauce. I stewed my own tomatoes and put a little jalepeno but I don't think I had as much as the recipe called for. but anyway it was delicious (also according to my dinner companion). we put a little plain yogurt on top. highly recommended

I was looking for a interesting chili to take camping. This is a hit. I made three time the recipe, and used home made beans. Every thing froze quite well, thawed in the cooler and reheated on the camp stove. I got rave review and will make this again. I served with cilantro and sour cream for topping.

This is a good, easy weeknight meal. The sweet potato makes it feel more substantial and "rib-sticking" than some other meatless chili recipes I've tried. I was worried that it would be too sweet, so I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out so complex and savory.

Excellent recipe. I have made exactly as written several times and love it.

Delicious and hearty. I followed other reviewers suggestion and used chipotle powder and cut down on the chili powder. Also added garlic, cumin, oregano in the beginning. I added half a bag of frozen spinach in the last two minutes of cooking. My carnivore husband loved it!

I've made this recipe many times since I first made it in 2002 and it never disappoints. I will say, I've never added the orange zest, it's delicious without it. I use chicken broth and Muir Glen Fire-Roasted tomatoes which add a really nice kick, along with the chili powder.

This was excellent: fast, easy, and delicious. I made two very minor changes: (1) add one large clove of garlic, chopped, with the onion and (2) add some red pepper flakes, for a bit of spice. This is a real keeper.

I didn't alter the recipe. The flavors didn't come together for me. I thought it was too sweet, but bland too. Lacked the hearty depth of a good chili. Still, okay- not bad.

I made some modifications like everyone else. But I am using black beans instead of pinto, chipotle chili flakes instead of chili powder, and 2 large cans of Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes and one 14 oz can of Rotel instead of the stewed tomatoes, using lime zest instead of orange peel, and started off with add celery, garlic and carrots. I quadrupled the recipe which is why the amounts above are a lot more. Used lots of cilantro at the end. that made the recipe.

Frijoles con Chile Guajillo (Pinto Beans with dried Guajillo peppers)

Beans and other type of legumes are a staple in my house along with rice (a day doesn't go by that I haven't eaten some type of bean dish and rice and I am damn proud of it because they are so healthy and good for you! Yup yup )

All three of my culinary backgrounds use beans in some way (from my Mexican side the humble pot of simple pot of boiled pinto beans, my Spanish and Cuban side the rich varied bean stews made with meats, sausages, and vegetables, or the Cuban staple of rice and black beans so yeah can't really avoid them hehe.

Anyways in Mexican Cuisine one of the staples is boiled pinto beans (usually just boiled with a few pieces of garlic, onion then salt to taste) however my friend Simon who's family is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico prepares the beans by boiling them with dried Guajillo peppers and a whole head of garlic. The guajillo peppers gives them a nice smokey earthy taste, and the whole head of garlic well the delicious flavor of garlic most are familiar with :) Thank Simon and his sister Liz for teaching me yet another way of enjoying beans :D

-1 lbs. dried pinto beans, or peruano beans, or flor de mayo beans
-4 dried chile guajillos (stem removed and seeds shaken out) or you can substitute with dried "Chile Nuevo Mexico" or "Chile California"
-1 whole head garlic
-salt to taste (I use about 1 1/2 teaspoons or more to taste)

(1) Put all ingredients EXCEPT the salt in pot (do not put the salt until the beans are tender because they will never be as tender as they should), cover with enough water to submerge them 2-3 inches in water.

(1) Don't get any bright ideas and puree the garlic after boiled and strain it into teh stock, the garlic boiled whole gives a nice mild taste, but if pureed and added back HELL NO! it'll be tooooo overpowering.

(2) My mother likes to throw away the garlic after it's boiled in there and the beans are done, but she blends the dried peppers and strains them back into the beans, it's her twist on my friends recipe and I love the taste it get's that way :)

How to Make It

Wash beans and put in a large pot. Add enough water to cover beans by twice their depth. Cook over low heat, covered, until tender, 2 to 3 hours. Add enough water during cooking to keep beans covered by about 1/2 in. (they should be a little soupy).

While beans are simmering, cook bacon in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat until crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Add onion and chili powder and cook another 10 minutes. Stir in green chiles and minced garlic, and cook until flavors have mingled, 5 minutes more.

When beans are tender, gently stir in onion mixture, salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has thickened slightly but beans are still quite soupy, 10 to 15 minutes.