Soup beans, or southern pinto beans, are the perfect way to use up a leftover hamhock. This blog post will walk you through making the best ham and bean soup using your Instant Pot. If you’ve never cooked dry beans before, fear not, this post is just for you!
Pinto beans are not the typical recipe post on this website, are they? As much as I love creating and eating low carb recipes, there are certainly times when I get in the mood to dust off my heirloom recipes and cook for a taste of nostalgia. I don’t do that often anymore which is why it has become a special treat.
These Southern pinto beans are one of my husband’s favorite meals so I make it especially for him a few times a year. Even though they’re not keto, low carb, or even paleo, the occasional meal like this is what helps us make living our low carb lifestyle more sustainable in the long term. Also, if you’re cooking for people who eat a variety of diets, it’s always good to have a trusted source for recipes of all ranges.
I hope that is what Keto in Pearls has become for you! I’ll be sharing more recipes like this throughout the year for those times you too want to a bite of home.
What Are Soup Beans?
Southern pinto beans, or soup beans, are exactly what they sound like. This recipe comes from the depression era when homemakers were trying to stretch their dollars and food. Dried beans were an inexpensive way to feed a family and also make use of discarded things like ham hocks.
Soup beans are dried pinto beans that are soaked overnight in water and then slow simmered, or in our case pressure cooked, with a ham hock and seasonings. The result is a bowl of well seasoned, beans, ham, in a broth that has been naturally thickened from the cooked beans.
Can I Eat Soup Beans on Keto?
The answer to that depends on your personal goals with a ketogenic diet. Since beans are a legume, diets like keto, paleo, and Whole30 stay away from them. However, pinto beans are gluten free and when eaten in small amounts they can even be lower carb. Personal discretion is always suggested when it comes to which foods you incorporate into your lifestyle.
What Are Ham Hocks and Where Can They Be Purchased?
Ham hocks (bones) are full of natural collagen that break down and release into the soup when cooking. If you do not have a leftover ham, or a leftover ham hock (ham bone) in your freezer, they are almost always available at grocery store butcher counters.
You will want to look for a ham hock (bone) which looks like a cylinder shaped bone usually with ham still attached. The bones will vary sightly in size but in this instance, size does not matter. Ham bones are also very inexpensive and should not cost more than a few dollars.
If you cannot find a ham hock at a butcher counter or shop, you can also buy a small spiral ham and cut off the ham and have a bone for your beans. Don’t discard the ham though, you can use that for many other meals!
How To Cook Southern Pinto Beans
There are a few different cooking methods that work to make these southern pinto beans. For purposes of this blog post, we’re going to discuss the Instant Pot method. The Instant Pot rose in popularity over the last few years, rightly so. Traditional soup beans would need to cook low and slow all day in order to yield a soft and flavorful bean but the Instant Pot gets the job done in just one hour!
Because this recipe uses dry pinto beans, it’s important that they have a water bath overnight in your refrigerator. To do this, you’ll simply place your beans in a large bowl, cover them with water, and put them in the fridge to soak for at least 12 hours.
This preps the pinto beans for cooking and yields the best possible bowl of beans. While you can cook them without soaking, I don’t encourage it because I feel like the overall result is subpar in texture (i.e. overcooked).
What Do Southern Pinto Beans Taste Like?
If you’ve ever had canned pinto beans, these homemade soup beans taste nothing like that. Southern pinto beans with ham are seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin and cooked with a ham bone (ham hock) for even more flavor. The fat and salt from the ham bone add layers of flavor to otherwise bland and dry beans. Serve with some of my gluten free cornbread to sop up all of the yummy broth! There’s a reason why this Southern recipe has lasted generations and generations!
Southern Pinto Beans with Ham
- 1 pound dried pinto beans
- water for soaking beans
- 1 ham hock/bone
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 6 to 8 cups of chicken broth
- Sift through the dry beans to remove any "bad" ones. Prep the dried pinto beans for soaking by placing them in a large bowl and covering completely with water. Place in the refrigerator overnight or 10 to 12 hours.
- Drain the beans in a collander and add to the liner of the Instant Pot.
- Cover with chicken broth to the 1/2 line of the Instant Pot liner, about 6 to 8 cups.
- Add the onion, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic and stir to combine.
- Place the ham hock in the beans and press down so it is partially submerged.
- Close the lid and seal the vent. Cook on high pressure for 1 hour. Let the pot naturally release for 15 minutes then manually release pressure.