This hearty Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup (Frijoles Charros) is an old family favorite. Fill the slow cooker with pinto beans, roasted chiles, tomatoes, and, wait for it…BACON. Perfect cozy dinner!

Frijoles Charros

Originally published September 9, 2015.

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

Giant bush in front of our house!

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

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 Soup

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.)

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!!

Frijoles Charros Receta

How to make Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup (Frijoles Charros)

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. Indeed, many know it by its Spanish name, Frijoles Charros. 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.

Roasting the Jalapeno Chiles

Splitting the roasted Jalapeno chiles

“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.”

How to make Frijoles Charros

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!

UPDATE 2020: Just for kicks, I’m adding a photo of our house the way it is now, 5 years later, without the cone tree ;) We planted a Crepe Myrtle and some shrubs in it’s place:

More great soup recipes:

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Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup (Slow Cooker)

5 from 14 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
This hearty Cowboy Pinto Bean Soup (Frijoles Charros) is an old family favorite. Fill the slow cooker with pinto beans, roasted chiles, tomatoes, and, wait for it...BACON. Perfect cozy dinner!


  • 5-8 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into eighths
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups pinto beans, dry, 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
  • shredded cheese, sour cream, avocados, cilantro, limes, etc. to garnish


  • In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until it is crisp.
  • Add onion and saute until it's soft, 5 minutes or so.
  • Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute or so.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Once steamed, the skins should be very easy to remove. Slit the pepper open once it is skinned and remove the stem and seeds.
  • Chop the peppers into bite-sized pieces.
  • Once the beans have split, add the roasted chilies, chopped tomatoes, salt, and bouillon.
  • Continue cooking until the beans are very tender and fully cooked (they should not taste at all chalky), about 30 minutes.
  • Add more salt and pepper to taste. Happy souping!

Slow Cooker Instructions:

  • 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.
  • One hour before you want to eat, add the remaining ingredients.


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


Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 655mg | Potassium: 297mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 314IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 142
Keyword: Crockpot, pinto bean, slow cooker, soup
Did you make this? I'd love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. 5 stars
    Making this recipe for the first time and thought I’d check the recipe just to be sure I didn’t forget anything. And then I read about your fireplace. For the sake of all that is holy, don’t paint it!!! We moved into a house with a painted fireplace (white) and decided to remove the paint. Ha! We tried everything including a sandblaster and all we wound up with was a living room full of sand. Once you paint brick, there is no going back!

  2. In the cowboy soup, do the skins on the beans stay in the soup and serve like that? Never cooked pinto beans before!

    1. Hi Janet! Yes the skins will stay with the beans! some might fall off but not too many usually. I hope you love it!

  3. Thoughts on using canned pinto beans? I didnt read it all the way through and Im at the pinto bean step now. I guess we’ll see how it goes!

    1. All right. I’m the lazy one here. Specific modifications include 8 slices of bacon, cans of pintos beans (rinsed), and ~6 cups of water (3 cans full of water), then started it boiling. Went ahead and use 1 15oz can diced tomatoes and the juice, and 1 7oz can of fire roasted green Chili’s and the juice, and no bouillon. Boiled for 30 mins, after that, moved temp to low (3-4) for upto 2 hours. Was delicious!

  4. I haven’t tried this yet. What are your thoughts about replacing the fresh tomato with canned? Would it work and how much would you say to use? Thanks so much

    1. Hi Susan! We ended up leaving the fireplace as is! 6 years later and I’ve grown to like it, although sometimes I do kind of wish we had whitewashed it at least. The tree and giant bush were removed, I actually added an update photo at the end of the post!

  5. If I were you I would white wash the fireplace brick. What is there now looks old and dark.
    I love your new house and wish you the very best. I wish for health and happiness in your new home

  6. While I’m not a pinto bean person, glad to know there is a recipe out there for the 16 bean soup bag I bought the other day just in case zombies show up. Might try this with lentils too.

    Please, pretty please, update with a new photo of the front of the house. I’m hoping you took out all those bushes by the driveway since they block the house. Cute house btw.

    Fireplace…eh. I don’t like the glass doors. Otherwise it’s ok. The seating areas are a great touch, wish mine had that.

    I don’t always read everything you post, more “nope, hate that dish…oooh, print that one” kind of person, but I think I will. Never realized how humorous you are. Great writing.

    1. Your wish is my command Hyde! I added an “after” picture of the house. Thanks for the idea, and enjoy the soup!!

  7. I love the looks of this soup and can’t wait to try it. I, for one, am glad you left the natural brick. I think it is beautiful the way it is. And I just hate to see natural items covered with paint.
    Thank you for what you do. I’m fairly new to your food blog, I guess that’s what you call it? I love to cook and I love to try new recipes.
    I hope you’re loving that “carpet-free kitchen” and the rest of your home now that you’re settled into it.
    Have a blessed day.

    1. Thank you so much Carolyn! I am definitely enjoying my carpet free kitchen, it is the best! :) And never fear, the original brick is still here (this post was originally written 5 years ago.) Thank you for commenting, I love hearing from you! Let me know how the soup goes!

    1. Thank you Louise!! It’s gone now, we planted a Crepe Myrtle in it’s place! I should put an “After” picture up!

  8. You need to either paint, or reface that fireplace.  White, white, and more white.  That’s my motto!  And it has alway worked for me…….

    Good luck.!

    I do have pinto beans in the pantry. Straight from Mexico. I will try the soup!

    1. We moved into this house 5 years ago and the fireplace is still brick, so sad! I wanted to compromise by white washing it, but it hasn’t happened. It’s actually grown on me over the years. Kinda. ;) We did replace the green covers on the benches though, thank goodness!! Enjoy the soup!

    1. I love the looks of this soup and can’t wait to try it. I, for one, am glad you left the natural brick. I think it is beautiful the way it is. And I just hate to see natural items covered with paint.
      Thank you for what you do. I’m fairly new to your food blog, I guess that’s what you call it? I love to cook and I love to try new recipes.
      I hope you’re loving that “carpet-free kitchen” and the rest of your home now that you’re settled into it.
      Have a blessed day.

  9. Absolutely delicious soup.  Flavors were so spot on and flavorful on this beautiful Fall night. I garnished with small bowls of grated sharp cheddar, sliced avocado, chopped red onion, sour cream,  crispy bacon & chili cheese fritos.  We can’t wait for the leftoverS.  I did add A  bay leaf, oregano, chili powder, cumin & smoked paprika at start of cooking. 

    1. Ooh your garnish game is on point Susie!! That sounds so amazing! I’ll have to try the fritos next time, I love the corny flavor they add. Good idea adding a bay leaf and the other spices! I bet it was delicious. Thanks so much for commenting!

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