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. 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!

    1. “Hungarianized it” haha, I love it Michelle! I’m going to say that every time I add smoked paprika now. My brother just texted me last night to say that he added smoked paprika to my Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, I’m going to try Hungarianizing my own next time! I’m glad you like the Cowboy soup!

  2. 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:

    1. Those are both super cute Shellie! I am really leaning toward whitewashing but we have’t done anything yet…we’ll see! Thanks so much Shellie!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. Congrats on the house!! So exciting! So glad you’re getting away from the carpeted kitchen..who does that?? That’s just asking for stains. But this soup though. Looks fantastic!! Plus it’s slow cooker friendly. That’s basically the only way I make dinners.

  8. 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!?

  9. 09.10.2015 Your house looks very nice…congrats! The first house is always the “Do it yourself project” but its a good learning opportunity. J.

  10. 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. :-)

  11. There is nothing like having your own house to remodel to your heart’s desire. Have fun!

    The soup looks great; thanks for the shout-out for my soup recipe!

  12. 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.

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