Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vegan Refried Bean Soup

Refried Bean Soup

If you are still feeling full and feeble after last week's hours of holiday cooking and eating, a bowl of beans that tastes creamy and rich with nary a drop of dairy, is just the healthy remedy heading into Round 2 of the celebratory feeding frenzy, also known as December.

Although pinto beans, with their soft, easy-to-mash texture, are a common choice for this Mexican dish, don't be shy about using black, pink, or white varieties. In lieu of refrying the beans in a generous amount of fat after cooking them down, I added more water to soup them up.  Epazote, culantro, and pasilla chile peppers can be found in Latin markets.  In their absence, substitutions of oregano/thyme mixture, cilantro, and a teaspoon of smoky chile powder reasonably replicate the flavors.   Doubling the recipe will do no harm, especially if you consider the likely possibility that you will make a meal of it all to yourself. 

Vegan Refried Bean Soup - My own recipe

Serves 2.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried epazote
1 large dried pasilla chile pepper
2 loose tablespoons chopped fresh culantro
1 cup vegetable stock, salted (or 1 cup water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube added)
2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Additional salt to taste (optional)

Optional flavors, textures, and garnishes (add any or all):

1 teaspoon chopped raw onion
1/2 teaspoon minced Serrano chile pepper (or other hot green variety)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon pasilla chile pepper seeds (removed from the chile used in preparation)


In a large skillet, over low heat, warm the olive oil for a few seconds.  Stir in onion, garlic, and epazote. Maintain low heat, cook until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.  Add chile, culantro, stock, and pinto beans.  Increase heat to medium and bring to boil.  Stir, then reduce heat to simmer until three-quarters of liquid has evaporated. Mash the beans into a thick and lumpy paste. None of the beans will be whole. Add water, returning to boil before removing from heat.  Divide into two serving bowl.  Add optional garnishes, allowing the diner to stir them in before eating. --

This recipe is for Sra of When My Soup Came Alive who hosted MLLA 52 in October.  You can find Sra's round-up of delicious legume-centric fare here.  Many thanks to Sra and all who participated.

Simona of Briciole is hosting the current MLLA 53 for November, an abbreviated version of the event. There is still time to join in; the deadline is tomorrow, November 30 at noon California time.  Simona will be happy to welcome your recipes. 


  1. That sounds and looks good! A very comforting soup.



  2. I went and looked up epazote, culantro and pastille chile. Couldn't find the third - I'd love to taste this soup, very curious about the spices.

  3. Thanks, Rosa!

    Sra - I've made a correction to the chiles. I should have written "pasilla." Typo in haste, repent in leisure. ;| (I've also added a link to better describe the ingredient.)

  4. The photo has a serene beauty. Like Sra, I am not familiar with the spices you mention, but I'd try a bowl any time.