A Deliciously Tasty Eastern Kentucky Soup Beans Recipe

Those who find themselves in search of the right Southern bean soup recipe to serve as a counterpart to the Northern bean soup options are in luck. Soup beans serve as the Appalachia answer to the Northern options and for good reason.

Some may choose to add cornbread, while others may elect to include a cooked turnip. Now that wintertime is upon us, it is time to enjoy a delicious meal that is hearty and high in fiber. Let’s take a closer look at this recipe and the fun that we can have making it our own, shall we?

Preparation Methods + Serving Sizes

These soup beans are prepared over the stovetop and if you follow our directions, the finished product will serve at least 6. There is a significant amount of prep and cook time to consider here, though. You’ll need to set aside 8 1/2 hours for prep time, as well as 3 hours for cooking.


  • Water
  • 1 pound of pinto beans (dried)
  • Ham hocks, salt pork or smoked hog jowl (1/2 pound to 1 pound)
  • Sweet yellow onion (1 small)
  • Garlic, minced clove (1)

Optional Ingredients

If you would like to add some kick to your finished product, feel free to add two tablespoons of fiesta pinto bean seasoning. Additionally, at-home chefs have the liberty of adding salt and pepper as they see fit.

A Delicious Eastern Kentucky Soup Beans Recipe: Step-by-Step Guide

Once you have taken the time to handle the prep process and you are ready to get started in earnest, this step-by-step guide is here to help.

Step 1:

To begin, you will want to make sure that all of your beans have been properly rinsed. Be sure to remove all of the stones and take out any dirt clumps. From there, place them in a pot, cover them up with a few inches of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the mixture to a simmer and allow it to remain at a simmer for a period of at least ten minutes. Once these steps have been completed, remove it from the mixture and give it a chance to soak overnight.

Step 2:

Are you ready to cook? If so, drain the soaking water and the beans. Use a colander for this step and be sure to rinse them as well. A large pot with a lid will be needed to place the beans into. Cover the beans with water once more. The beans should be submerged underneath at least one inch of water.

Depending on what you have chosen, the ham hocks, salt pork or smoked hog jowl need to be cut up now. If salt pork is being chosen, you will need to make sure to rinse it first. Add the meat to the pot at this time. The onion and garlic are now peeled and chopped before being added to the pot. This is not the time to add salt.

Step 3:

Bring the mixture to a boil and allow it to boil uncovered for at least five minutes. It is then time to bring the heat down to a simmer. Keep it on simmer for at least two to three hours. Make sure that you are stirring the mixture occasionally. You will want to keep stirring until the beans have gotten soft and they are starting to break open.

To test them, scoop out a spoonful. Do the skins break open when you scoop out the beans and blow on them? If so, this means you are ready to continue. Taste the beans as well, so that you can be sure they have been cooked to your liking.

As an added note, those who choose to cook with a covered pot are going to have more liquid to deal with than those who choose an uncovered pot. If you are someone who enjoys a sizable amount of soup, cover your pot. Anyone who wants thicker beans should cook with the pot uncovered. Others may decide to split the difference by half covering.

Step 4:

Remove the meat from the pot and then remove the fat from the meat. Chop the meat up and place it back into the pot. Grab a half cup of beans from the pot. Take a fork and mash them together until they have become a paste. As soon as the paste has been created, stir them back into the beans.

This will make the soup nice and thick. At this time, the chef will decide on the added seasonings that they wish to use. Salt and pepper are added at the discretion of the chef, as they will choose the amount that caters to their personal taste. Those who would like their soup beans to have a bit more kick to them will often choose to add Fiesta pinto bean seasoning.

What About The Cornbread?

In many instances, this dish is served with a side of cornbread. What could be better than finding a traditional southern recipe to pair with this common southern dish? Those who are looking to emulate the southern recipes that their grandmother once used have come to the right place.

Thanks to this recipe, you are now able to make real southern cornbread. Best of all, the vast majority of the required ingredients should already be present in your kitchen.

To get started, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Real butter (6 tablespoons)
  • Stone ground cornmeal, non-self-rising, white or yellow (2 cups)
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Baking soda (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Baking powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 egg (large)
  • Buttermilk or soured heavy whipping cream (1 1/2 cups, country style preferable)

The baking process is very simple and can be completed in 5 simple steps:

Step 1:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add vinegar to the soured heavy cream if this is what is being used. Let it sit for five minutes as the oven preheats.

Step 2:

Once the oven is hot, place in a 9-inch cast iron skillet. Mix the batter after placing the skillet in the oven and allowing it to heat up. The butter should be browned or bubbly, but no burning is necessary.

Step 3:

Mix the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cornmeal in a bowl. Make a well at the center, place the egg and buttermilk (or soured cream) into it and stir until there is a blend. No beating is necessary.

Step 4:

Take the skillet out of the oven. Take the melted butter and swirl it around the skillet. Pour the butter into your cornbread mix and stir it properly. Once it has been incorporated, take the batter and pour it back into the skillet. Place the skillet back into the oven.

Step 5:

Bake the cornbread for 20 minutes. To confirm that it is done, take a knife around the edges to make sure that there is zero sticking. Put the cornbread on a plate and serve it with butter. Real butter is the best choice for this recipe, as it provides better results than margarine.

Nutritional Facts

These nutritional facts are provided on a per-serving basis. Each serving is capped at 1 1/2 cups.

  • Calories: 257.5 calories
  • Total Fat: 15 grams
  • Carbs: 10.4 grams
  • Sugars: 0.01 grams
  • Protein: 21.4 grams
  • Sodium: 400.1 milligrams
  • Fiber: 0.36 grams

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