Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup (Slow Cooker)

This hearty bean soup (Frijoles Charros) is an old family favorite. It’s full of pinto beans, roasted chiles, tomatoes, and, wait for it…BACON. Perfect fall dinner!

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

WE BOUGHT A FREAKING HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aaaahhh feelings!

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

Isn’t it cute? We love it. It’s the perfect size for us, with an awesome backyard that the kids were forced to get to know reeeeal good on Monday when we painted baseboards for 12 hours straight. Baptism by fire baby.

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

Try to ignore the massive bushes hiding most of the house. That cone tree (that’s what they are officially called, I’m sure) behind the giant bush is like 100 feet tall, no joke. The first thing I thought to myself when we pulled up was, “If I buy this house that tree is the first thing to go.” And literally 30 seconds later we talked to the owner and she told us about how her father had planted that tree a million years ago and it’s Super Special. I don’t know how you could have Super Special feelings about something that ugly but there you have it.

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

Do you want to hear the sad part? We live in a rental house (we’re moving this weekend) and we love it. We will miss it. But it was time for out landlord to sell, so that means we are moving on too. It was bought by an investor who is going to flip it because have I told you about the carpet in my kitchen? I can’t wait to nose my way in on open house day when this baby goes on the market again. It’s gonna be like Ugly Betty gets a makeover. (Am I the only white girl who knows about Ugly Betty? “Soy Betty, la fea.” (Except she’s actually not ugly. Of course. Best telenovella everrrr.)

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

There is definitely no carpet in our new kitchen, but it does have this:

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

Is there something wrong with me that I hate this? We were all ready to paint it white on Labor Day, when my real estate agent/cousin/interior designer that I bum ideas off of for free came over to help us pick out paint colors for that dark green wall and told us that she is putting this EXACT fireplace into the dream home that she is building right now.

So what do you think? Should we paint this baby white? Leave it? White wash it? Leave the mantel as wood or paint the whole thing? Obviously the fabric on the built in benches is here to stay. (not)

We move on Saturday. Wish us luck getting my piano that I never play down the front steps and into the truck. It’s going to be so fun!!

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

Now let’s talk Cowboy Bean Soup. This is a classic from my lovely mother-in-law Kris, who is one of the best cooks I know. She’s been making this soup for her family for over 30 years, it is a classic. Over the summer while we were visiting them up in Montana we made my sister’s Tejano Pinto Beans to go with our tacos one night, and everyone said that it reminded them of Cowboy Bean Soup. I am all over any recipe that can turn the flavor of Laura’s beans into a full blown meal, so this soup is perfect for me. It’s got tons of flavor from the roasted chiles and the bacon, you will love it.

Kris showed me the old cookbook where she got this recipe. She said she didn’t change a thing. Well I know better. I went through every single ingredient just to make sure.

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup from The Food Charlatan

“Did you add extra beans? “No.”
Did you use fresh tomatoes like it says?” “Yes.”
“You use fresh peppers? What kind?”  “Fresh peppers! I never use that! Just throw in a can of diced green chiles.”

And there you have it my friends: more soup lies from my mother-in-law. I think we can forgive her  since she is being awesome enough to share the recipe with us though. Thanks Kris!

Do you guys give up? Or are you thirsty for more?
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Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup (Slow Cooker)

Yield: Serves 10

Recipe from my mother-in-law Kris


  • 5-8 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into eighths
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups dry pinto beans, rinsed
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 Anaheim peppers (or a can of fire-roasted green chilies)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into chunks*
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • to garnish: shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, cilantro, limes, etc.


  1. In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until it is crisp.
  2. Add onion and saute until it's soft, 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute or so.
  4. Add rinsed beans and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer (there should be some amount of movement). Cover and simmer just until the skins begin to split on the beans, a little over 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile roast the chiles. There are lots of ways to do this: you can broil them in the oven or char them over a gas stove. (Here's a resource) I grilled mine outside over medium heat. It took 12-15 minutes total, turning the chiles every 5 minutes or so. However you choose to do it, just make sure that the skins get nice and black. Afterward make sure you steam them for at least 20 minutes. You can do this by placing a bowl over a plate of hot chilies (with no escape for steam), closing them in a bag, or putting plastic over the bowl they are in.
  6. Once steamed, the skins should be very easy to remove. Slit the pepper open once it is skinned and remove the stem and seeds.
  7. Chop the peppers into bite-sized pieces.
  8. Once the beans have split, add the roasted chilies, chopped tomatoes, salt, and bouillon.
  9. Continue cooking until the beans are very tender and fully cooked (they should not taste at all chalky), about 30 minutes.
  10. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Happy souping!
  11. Slow Cooker Instructions:
  12. After adding the garlic in step 3 above, transfer to a crock pot. Add the water and beans. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  13. One hour before you want to eat, add the remaining ingredients.


*Original recipe calls for peeling the tomatoes but I was too lazy.

More legit recipes:

Traditional Tejano Pinto Beans (Slow Cooker): << this is the recipe that reminded my family of Cowboy Bean Soup. It is to-die-for!!

Traditional Tejano Beans from The Food Charlatan


Cream Cheese Chicken Chili (Slow Cooker): (this is one of the easiest meals of all time)

Cream Cheese Chicken Chili (Crockpot) from


More amazing soups from Kris:

Chicken Enchilada Soup: << uses masa in the soup to get great texture (masa=stuff corn tortillas are made from)

Chicken Enchilada Soup from


Beef Barley Soup (Slow Cooker): << remains as one of the top 5 recipes of all time on The Food Charlatan!

Beef Barley Soup from

More soups for fall days!

Drunken Beans (Frijoles Borrachos) from Gimme Some Oven
Slow Cooker Charro Beans from Five Heart Home
Chicken and Pinto Bean Soup with Lime and Cilantro from Kalyn’s Kitchen





  1. says

    Dear Karen, Congratulations on your beautiful new home! Wishing you many beautiful and happy memories. Personally, I love the fireplace! I wish I had one in my house!

    This soup sounds comforting and delicious…a perfect meal to enjoy and a long and busy day. All the best with your new home dear. xo, Catherine
    Catherine recently posted…Autumn Apple TartMy Profile

  2. Ginger Voisard says

    The recipe sounds awesome. With winter coming this will be perfect.

    My thoughts on the fireplace is I would paint it or white wash it. That brick is just so busy looking. Not restful at all. The wood mantle, depends if you like wood or not or have too much wood in your baseboards and door jams.
    Love the house. Perfect size. When the pillars are painted and the tree & bush are gone, it will be so awesome.
    I am sure whatever you decided to do will be what makes you comfortable. After all this is your home. We can all give you OUR opinions but it is your opinion that counts. Good Luck.

  3. says

    HeLLO fal!! And congrats on the house!!!! It’s so cute!! My advice, just start by painting the mantel and changing out the fireplace cover, that can make a world of difference! Then see how you feel about the brick in a month or two, I personally love it! We had the same issue with our fireplace, I’m still going back and forth or refacing it with some fancy marble, but haven’t had the heart to do it yet!

  4. says

    Congratulations on the house! OK so that tree is awful. But I feel like now you’re roped into keeping it. Maybe just for a year. And as for the fireplace, PAINT IT WHITE. Keep the wood mantle and the slate. Those will pop beauuutifully against the white. So much potential, my mind is just racing. Congrats!!!!!
    Sarah | Broma Bakery recently posted…Nutella Swirled Pumpkin BreadMy Profile

    • Virginia says

      Congratulations on your new house! May you and your family be very happy in it!

      May I make a suggestion about that fireplace. Painting may be what you need to do, BUT perhaps you shouldn’t make that decision until you have lived in the house a while.
      After you have settled in and have the rest of the room like you want it, you’ll have a surer feeling about the fireplace. You can always paint it later if you want to, but you can’t UNpaint it if you decide it was a mistake.

      Happy decisions and happy years in your new home!


  5. says

    Ooh! That soup looks perfect! And as for the tree, buh bye I say! And with the fireplace, I’m definitely leaning whitewash the whole thing. I agree that it us just busy, and I still thing exactly dated to 1972. Not for nothing, I’m an architect ;)
    Rebecca W recently posted…Christmas (PUZZLE!) in AugustMy Profile

  6. Joanie says

    I think you should leave the fireplace the way it is. If anything, just give it a whitewash. I don’t know why you chose dark green on the wall though. Yuck. (sorry)

    Can’t wait to make this soup but, it will have to wait until our temperatures drop below 95!

    • says

      I’m considering doing a whitewash Joanie! The green wall was original. We painted it on Monday, it’s now a few shades darker than the wall on the right side, but we’re not sure we like it.

  7. says

    Love your new home, so cute! And so very exicting for you & your family!! The soup looks heavenly, so comforting and delicious – love that it’s slow cooker!!

    Fireplace….paint the wall a lighter/whitish color and that fireplace will compliment it rather than stand out. Fun new covering on the benches, you’re set! Oh….and I’d buy a chainsaw…plant a new tree to commerate your new home! My 2 cents – what matters is your opinon!. Thanks for the glimpse into your beautiful home!
    Debra @ Bowl Me Over recently posted…Rainbow Fruit Salad #Vegan #MeatlessMondayMy Profile

  8. says

    Congratulations on your new home! It looks really cute. I definitely agree that painting the fireplace white would be the way to go. It would look so much brighter and more contemporary.

    The bean soup looks delicious! I’m always looking for new slow cooker recipes.

  9. Janeen B. says

    Congratulations on your new, beautiful home!!! You and your family are going to make many wonderful, happy memories there I’m sure. As a landscape designer I must tell you to get rid of those horrible shrubs that seem to literally be swallowing your new home! Yikes! And don’t feel one minute of guilt about it……the previous homeowner has moved on. This is your home now! Do with it what you want. :-)

  10. says

    Oh My Gosh!! Congrats!! I do agree the fireplace needs a little help. If you don’t want to paint the whole thing try just painting the mantle and adding some modern decor. I’m with you on the cushions, got to go! Now this soup, I can’t wait for cooler weather to make this!!! I love beans and who doesn’t love bacon!?
    Malinda @ Countryside Cravings recently posted…Caramel Apple CakeMy Profile

  11. says

    CONGRATS!!! That is one super cute house. Yeah, that tree… There are no words. It’s “special” all right. Also, totally paint that fireplace white, or a light gray. It will totally change the look. This is coming from my Fixer Up and Property Brothers obsession. Do it! This soup looks hearty and filling. Lovin’ those cowboy flavors. Pinned.

  12. Kris says

    Karen, you crack me up! Soup lies? Really? Let’s call it “inspiration” and leave it at that. haha! I’m so glad you posted this! Now I don’t have to go look it up anymore in my old cookbook. Thanks for that!

    Here’s my advice about the tree: ask Chip

    Here’s my advice about the fireplace: ask Rees

    Problems solved!

  13. Gary says

    This is perfect for our “Spook and Soup” Halloween party. Thanks for the recipe.
    The Fireplace, I say leave it be. I was a brick mason once-upon-a-time so I like the look.

  14. says

    CONGRATS!!! I’m so happy for you guys!!! I’m late to the party, but what did you decide? Did you paint it? As much as I hate the painted brick in our living room, I think painted WHITE looks classy. I’m into it. And these beans. We also just saw an open house that had a FAUX brick wall painted white in the kitchen. That’s right, they glued slats of wood to the wall to make it look like brick, then painted it white. Don’t do that.
    Sarah @ SnixyKitchen recently posted…Sparkling Asian Pear and Mint Iced TeaMy Profile

  15. Shellie H says

    Congrats on the new house!!! It is so exciting to be able to do whatever the heck you want to your home.. :) We are looking to buy right now and will surely miss our rental home but hope to find the right little house any day now!! I love your blog, and not just cuz I won that awesome prize from your Hidden Valley giveaway ;) Here are a couple of fireplaces I love:

  16. Michelle Hajdu says

    Fabulous recipe! I just made this today and my husband raved about it! We live in Hungary, so I Hungarianized the recipe a bit, meaning I added smoked paprika to the onions. The link to roasting the peppers was a really nice tip, thanks for that too! Will definitely make again!

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