Recipe of the Week: Basic Pinto Beans

We eat a lot of beans, prepared in a variety of ways. I read on SurvivalBlog that alot of people are stockpiling “beans, rice, and bullets”. However, I’m wondering if all of those people who are stockpiling beans know how to prepare them so they will be enjoyable. Here is our most basic recipe, which is sometimes spiced up more with additional red chili, cooked longer for softer/refried beans, or added to other recipes. I cook up a big batch and can them, as it is just as easy to make a “mess” of them for additional quick meals later. (They can also be used with eggs and tortillas for breakfast, in place of or in addition to meat. This recipe can be used for other beans, such as black beans, as well. You just might want to adjust spices to your liking.)


  • 2 lbs. dry pinto beans
  • water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 cans chicken broth (or 6 tsp chicken boullion + 6 cups water)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 or 2 cans Rotel tomatoes with green chilis, undrained
  • 3+ Tbsp chili powder (use more, if you like spice and heat)
  • 1 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped meat, such as ham or smoked jerky (optional)


Sort dry beans, removing rocks and any non-bean items. Wash/rinse beans with water and drain them; repeat several times. Soak beans in large pot in about 14-16 cups of water overnight (or at least eight hours). (If you do not have time to soak them, you must cook them at least 2-3 hours longer; they will be firmer. Some folks soak in baking soda water or salt water to de-gas or add flavor.) After soaking, be sure to rinse beans again, especially if you have soaked them in baking soda water.

Return rinsed beans to soup pot, add cans of chicken broth, bay leaf, chopped onions, garlic, Rotel tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and 2 tsp of salt; also add meat, if using. Add water so that there is about 2-inches of liquid above the beans/vegetables. Bring to a boil, stirring the bottom occasionally. Turn heat down to a simmer. Cover with lid tilted. Simmer for about two hours, testing for doneness and stirring occasionally to keep what’s on the bottom from sticking. Add water, as needed, to keep some liquid above the beans.

(If pressure canning the beans, you can remove them from the heat when they are cooked but still firm, since the canning process will cook them more and soften them further as well as reheating them when they are prepared for a meal. If you are planning to make refried beans, you will want to cook them very well, until they are soft and mash easily.)

Remove the bay leaf before serving, canning, or freezing.

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