Smoky Refried Bean Soup

by on March 4, 2008
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Vegan Smoky Refried Bean Soup: This quick and easy refried bean soup is so thick it’s almost a chili. Vegan, low-fat, and gluten-free.

Since I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time bird watching, I’ve slipped into cooking so many “ridiculously easy” recipes that I’ve decided to make Ridiculously Easy a permanent feature on the blog. Through the magic of blogging, I’ve gone back in time to add a tag to many of the recipes that fit into this category, dishes that take just a few minutes or that allow you to dump your ingredients into a pot and let them cook a short time while you’re free to do other things. Just click on the tag to see the first few recipes that I’ve categorized as Ridiculously Easy, or R.E for short.

Today’s easy recipe turned out to be so delicious and comforting that I can see it becoming a regular meal at my house. Like my last R.E. recipe, it uses refried beans (though I assure you that not all my ridiculous recipes do!) I know that some people turn their noses up at canned refried beans, and though I agree that freshly made taste better, the canned version is such a great convenience. In this soup, they contribute a wonderful creamy mouth-feel that will make you think the soup is richer than it is. But if you don’t like using canned refried beans, you can always do it the old fashioned way: whiz up a cup and a half of pinto beans in your food processor with a little of their liquid and add them straight to the soup. No frying needed!

Vegan Smoky Refried Bean Soup


Smoky Refried Bean Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This soup is so thick it’s almost a chili. Use the minimum amounts of chipotle chili powder and hot sauce to make this a mild dish or add more to make it as hot as you dare.
Serves: 4
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
  • 15 ounces fatfree refried beans
  • 15 ounces black beans, cooked
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 – 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Heat a large, non-stick pot and sauté the onion until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook for one more minute. Add all the remaining ingredients and cook until the flavors blend, 20-30 minutes.
Serving suggestion: Garnish with fresh tomato salsa and serve with baked tortilla chips and a large salad.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/4th of recipe Calories: 261 Fat: less than 1g Carbohydrates: 50g Sodium: 852mg Fiber: 14.4g Protein: 15.2g

Refried Bean Soup

Original photo from 2008

Thanks to everyone who emailed and left comments identifying my mystery birds. The robins and cedar waxwings are still hanging around, even after last night’s storms. I’ve discovered that they’ve finished the hackberries and are now eating our holly berries, so I’m hoping there’s enough food for them to stick around a while.

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lea January 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

I made this last night, using 1 can of pinto beans whipped up in the food processor in place of refried beans. I paired it with some tortilla chips. Fabulous!
Oh, and to one of the posters, Quorn isn't vegan. It has egg whites in it 🙁


2 sophia June 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Quorn now has at least one vegan options, thanks to the hard work of Compassion over Killing! 🙂


3 Lisa February 22, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Wow! Yum! I couldn't find any of the spices at my normal grocery store (I'll have to keep digging), so I had to play around a bit… regular chili powder, regular oregano, chipotle Tabasco, cumin, and liquid smoke 🙂 It turned out great – I love the thickness the refried beans give it. I can't wait to try it again once I hunt down the spices listed!


4 Becca May 6, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Susan, this recipe was so good! Just finished making it. Delicious! I absolutely love your blog. 🙂


5 Danielle June 15, 2010 at 8:45 pm

just made this, so good! I just learned recently when using canned beans instead of dried beans you loose almost half the nutrients.


6 aj August 25, 2010 at 7:48 pm

This was ridiculously awesome! I’m one of those people who just loves soup and eats it year round, and this soup did not disappoint! I sauteed the onions, garlic, and pepper and then pureed them because I have little ones who would not eat that stuff otherwise. I also used ancho chili powder because it was all that I had. This was so good though, and my kids even liked it. I’m definitely going to share this one with family and friends, and I have a feeling that this will be one that I make over and over again!


7 Pam September 18, 2010 at 6:26 am

This is my “go to” recipe! I make this as a soup and I have I put less broth in to put in tortillas with spanish rice, or in a bowl as a dip with chips. I have also kept it thick and poured it over a baked potato and then garnish it with salsa. Wonderful lunch! I have been a vegan for almost a year now and have really enjoyed your blog. Thank you, Thank you!


8 Tracy October 3, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Awesome recipe, thanks Susan! 🙂


9 Fiona November 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I love this soup!!! It’s a definite repeat recipe for me! I like crushing baked tortilla chips over the top.


10 AussieAmanda January 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Awesome soup Susan, I love it! It’s so quick and easy it’s definitely on my “quick-fix” list!


11 ChicagoCook February 8, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I made this once before when you first posted it, and just remembered it. Delicious! I didn’t have all the spices on hand, so I stuck with just chili powder and a little bit of lime juice. I also didn’t bother with the broth, instead adding 1 1/2 cups of water, since the canned stuff is salty enough. Added a handful of TVP since I was trying to get rid of it–and it gave it another great texture. Next time, I think I’ll try just pureeing a can of pinto beans to avoid the “refried” fats.


12 SusanV February 8, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Can’t you get fat-free refried beans? No fat and a better texture than pureed beans.


13 Elaine April 5, 2011 at 9:49 am

I LOVE this recipe. I’m no longer vegan, but find your ridiculously easy recipes continue to be go-tos. I’ve made this soup twice and everyone who’s tried it can’t get enough. Also, posted the link for my blog readers!


14 Carmella May 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm

While this looks amazing on your site, I’ll have to admit when I made it I was skeptical. The look and smell was a bit unappealing. But the flavor! Absolutely amazing. Tasted like a bowl of delicious taco bean dip. Now I’m off to try more recipes for your blog. I’m officially a fan!


15 lea July 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

This soup is absolutely delicious – the seasonings are perfect! The finished product is far greater than the sum of all the ingredients. I used fresh corn instead of frozen, but still a very easy recipe. Topped it off with some homemade guacamole and fresh diced tomatoes – sooooo good!


16 rita August 23, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Just made this recipe tonight, it’s really tasty, I added some mushrooms and a chipotle pepper whole be taken out later and it really added a great flavor. Your blog is giving me hope I may be able to do this! Spent all day shopping, chopping and reading. Thanks so much.


17 Lynne November 14, 2011 at 11:36 am

I think this is now my favorite bean soup recipe. I had some beans (probably pintos) in the freezer that I had to use up so used them in place of the black beans but it was delicious. I had some tortillas in the refrig so I just sort of fried them in a cast iron skillet, no oil except what was in the pan. I think I’m going to put a scope of vegan sour cream on it next or vegan cream cheese.
Thanks again for this site.


18 Kurt March 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Tonight was the second time I made this dish, and both times it went over quite well.

This time I did make a slight change… instead of using the cup of frozen corn kernels I did about 50/50 frozen corn kernels and wild rice.


19 Lynda May 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm

This is my family’s favorite soup of all time. I use a can of Mexican corn instead of frozen corn to the recipe. And I always post the recipe link on Facebook every time I make it. (which is pretty often) I adore it. two thumbs up.


20 Suzy June 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I made this tonight and will definitely make it again. Bean soup isn’t usually what you think of in June, but it was exactly what I needed.


21 Bett June 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm

This is really good! I didn’t have pinto or refried beans, so whizzed up a can of great northern beans in the processor instead.

I will definitely make it again but using refried pinto beans (I’m curious to see whether this makes a difference.) I will also use less smoked paprika as my whole house smells way too smoky and not in the fireplace-good way. Also the soup’s bouquet is a little too smoky for my own personal tastes, although the taste is not too smoky.

I finished this with a teaspoon of vinegar at the end of the cooking time and liked what that did for it.

It’s also nice with a bit of guacamole instead of (or in addition to) the salsa on top.


22 PatB June 9, 2012 at 11:19 pm

Easy Refritos (Vegan refried beans but do have olive oil)
2/3 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup diced green or red bell pepper (optional)
2 cups cooked black beans or pinto beans (16oz can)
ground black pepper to taste

In a heavy skillet, saute the onions and garlic in the oil on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the cumin and the optional bell pepper, and continue to saute for 5 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. While the vegetables saute, drain the beans, reserving their liquid. Add the drained beans to the skillet and continue to cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, until the beans are hot. Remove the skillet from the heat. Using a potato masher, thoroughly mash the beans while adding as much of the reserved bean liquid as necessary to reach a soft, spreadable consistency. Add black pepper to taste.

Variation: Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro to the sauteing vegetables just before you add the beans.

From: Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home


23 PAULi June 11, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I became a vegan 8 weeks ago, after being Ms. Potato Chip, sundaes, meat, BUTTER, martinis, cheese, mac ‘n cheese, filet mignon, wine, chicken skin queen. But a routine medical checkup showed I had a heart attack. Women, beware. I didn’t know. It was “silent’. So do get your levels (blood test) checked & get an EKG every 6 mos (if you are older than 50 years). I didn’t-I played roulette and let myself go- way overweight, of course. The next day after hearing the dreadful news, not with the advice of drs. (of course not), I became a vegan. So far I have lost l7 lbs. and never am HUNGRY. I don’t know how to cook this way as I was eating Mediterranean style (which doesn’t work for me)& am just reading and being as inventive as possible..not using any oil, no salt, but like Mrs. Dash & Bragg’s Aminos (delicious). I found your site while surfing for a recipe. THANK YOU. I can’t wait to make the salad dressing you have on the site! And you have many appealing recipes. So grateful I found you. By the way, I am reading Dr. Fuhrman’s book and loving it-Wish I had known all of this dietary stuff years ago. Love his 90/l0 idea–After I lose all the needed to lose lbs.-50 more-I will go with an occasional treat. Right now to scared to eat anything but veggies & fruits..and ENJOYING it much to my total amazement. After I make the dressing you listed, I will write my review ..know your recipe will be delicious…Again, THANKS for sharing. regards, pauli


24 Elyn November 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm

This was delicious. I followed your recipe pretty faithfully and it turned out great. My only modification was adding the juice of half a lime at the very end. It brightened the flavors nicely.


25 Radhika Sarohia November 27, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Made this today, quite a nice vegan soup!:)
Will definitely be making this again, and I think the seasonings would work well with a Spanish style vegan stir-fry too


26 Kim February 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Great soup! Thanks for the recipe!


27 Stephania March 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I am looking for vegan dishes that have no yeast, and no added sugars or natural sweeteners. Can you help me with this?


28 Marsha March 7, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I just made this tonight and it was wonderful! Thank you for the simple, easy recipe. I used regular paprika and chilli powder because that’s what I had. It was great!


29 Adrienne March 19, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Yum! I didn’t think this soup would be so special (too easy? and we do bean soups pretty often) but the flavor profile is great! This will be a keeper! When you do the nutritional profile are you including the cooking spray (ie would water sauteing make any difference)?


30 Heidi March 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm

I made this soup without smoked paprika because I didn’t have any and the soup was still amazing. This is a quick easy soup to make…I actually ate this for breakfast one day.


31 Donna May 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I love this soup! So easy and so tasty. I sprinkle baked tortilla chips in the soup for some crunch. Made it again this week but added diced potatoes that I wanted to use up….again delicious. There are so many things you can do to change it up a bit like adding celery, carrots, pineapple,…etc. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us!


32 Jen May 22, 2013 at 6:22 am

Oh. My. God. THIS is the BEST recipe! I’ve made it I don’t know how many times now….paired it with the reccommended tortilla chips, paired it with homemade cornbread, or just plain whole wheat tortillas for dipping. It’s totally fabulous. My husband very much prefers meat in his food, but he gets excited when I make this.

I actually made this a few days ago, and then yesterday after work he informed me he heated up some leftovers in whole wheat tortillas with cheddar cheese and lettuce the other day, and that they were effing delicious.

Cannot even stop singing the praises of this soup….I make it twice a month, I think.


33 Stephanie Watson June 5, 2013 at 6:31 pm

I did not have all the ingredients so I used some mild salsa in place of the tomatoes and green pepper, mixed frozen veg in place of the cup of corn. Two cans of pureed pinto beans in place of the re-fried beans. Two drops liquid smoke since I did not have smoked paprika and used regular oregano. VERY tasty. My husband loves it and so do I. Thanks for the inspiration!


34 Karen June 6, 2013 at 9:14 am

I’ve been told not to use cooking spray on non-stick pans.


35 Susan Voisin June 6, 2013 at 9:19 am

You’re right. The sprays like Pam contain an ingredient that will leave a coating on nonstick pans. With really good nonstick, it shouldn’t be necessary to oil the pan at all, so I’ve removed that step from the instructions. Thanks!


36 Michelle DG June 17, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I just made this for lunch today. It was wonderful! For dinner, I didn’t really feel like cooking, but didn’t want just another bowl of soup, so I made up a vegan bowl with some leftover jasmine rice, some extra black beans, the soup, and a little guacamole. Wow! I will be adding this to my “most often” repertoire for sure!


37 Nancy July 4, 2013 at 9:03 pm

This was one of the first 2 recipe’s I tried (no meat loaf was the other-AWESOME!) WOW is right!. I LUV this soup. I topped with fresh cilantro and fresh avocado and Oh Man! I was in heaven. I normally make my vegan meals and my carnivore husband separate meals. I had to SHOO him away and scold him to quite eating MY food! hahahahaha I really think I could talk him into being vegan with more recipes like these. Just about to find this weeks meals on your site! It’s gonna be hard to decide with so many interesting choices.
Thanks again!


38 Cinthia July 29, 2013 at 1:45 am

Best. Soup. Ever.


39 Shellie November 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm

On the stove as we speak. I used Spanish Smoked Paprika. Cannot wait to try it.


40 Shellie November 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm

YUM….perfect. Great recipe. 🙂


41 clb22 March 4, 2014 at 5:53 am

Great recipe. I made it yesterday and changed it up a little. For our family, we like it even better… just change out the green bell pepper for a poblano pepper! Also we leave out the paprika, hot sauce, oregano, salt & pepper. It is a go to recipe for sure.


42 Andrea April 29, 2014 at 2:39 pm

I just made this before the kids get home from school. Going to hold the temperature in a crock pot until dinner time. I’m always looking for ways to cook up leftovers. We had leftover refried beans and spanish rice from a restaurant, so I added the beans and I’ll toss the cooked rice into the pot 30 minutes before serving. It smells awesome! I realize that restaurant refried beans aren’t always vegan, but we aren’t a strict vegan/vegetarian household. Thanks for the recipe!


43 Xan September 26, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I made this recipe for the first time a year ago. I made my own re-fried beans and prepared my own black beans from dried instead of using canned. I have since made this recipe several times and plan on making it again today. It has a nice well rounded flavor and holds up well when frozen. In fact, it’s fantastic to make a double or even triple batch of, then portion it out and freeze to have as easy meals throughout the fall and winter.


44 Susan November 3, 2014 at 7:11 pm

This was so delicious and flavorful. I used a fresh hot chili pepper – one of the long skinny kinds – gave it great kick. I added a bit more corn. I want to eat the entire pot myself. Mine came out more like a stew and I am enjoying it that way. What a treat – thank you!!!


45 Statch November 8, 2014 at 4:56 pm

This is delicious! I made it according to the recipe, and loved the texture and flavor.


46 werner January 11, 2015 at 7:51 pm

Finally tried this soup. Sending my daughter off to new, tiny apartment in DC so wanted to practice some ridiculously easy recipes she can use. And as someone posted above, this is ridiculously AWESOME! Seriously licking-the-bowl rich and delicious. I ended up making my own refries and by time to add to soup had made a pretty good dent, so used immersion blender just slightly. Only change: added some canned green chilies. This will be a staple, and probably our new New Year’s soup. Thank you so very much for all the great recipes and keeping it real in the kitchen!


47 Chen November 30, 2015 at 11:54 am

I was having a massive craving for bean soup this morning. So I made this recipe for the first time and had a big bowl of it for breakfast lol. I topped it with some avocado chunks and lime juice. It was insanely good! Thank you Susan!!


48 Jill March 4, 2016 at 10:26 am

This soup is incredibly fast even without canned beans. Although I love my IP, I recently hauled out my old Creuset and have been slow cooking beans in the oven and on the stove top. I’ve fallen in love with the creamy texture of pinto beans cooked this way.

I used a bean masher to smash up the beans before adding to the soup. An immersion blender would have been a great way to do this too. Pretty sure this will be a staple in my house. 🙂 I chopped up some onions and a jalapeno to put on top and baked some corn tortillas to crumble over it.

One of these days I want to do a “Ridiculously Easy” challenge and make one of your RE recipes every day. I’m pretty sure I could live on them exclusively!


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