Instant Pot Appalachian Soup Beans—A comforting bowl of creamy pinto beans flavored with smoky ham. A winter staple in the Appalachian states.
SLOW COOKER Appalachian soup beans recipe is included in the notes below
Instant Pot Appalachian Soup Beans
Each week in 2020 I’m sharing a recipe inspired by one of the 50 states. So far I’ve covered Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, Minnesota, Colorado, Idaho, Hawaii, South Carolina, Illinois, Iowa, Alaska and New Mexico. (If you want to see all the “state recipes” listed in one place you can go here). Today I’m sharing a recipe inspired by The Mountain State–West Virginia.
When I think of West Virginia I automatically start singing John Denver’s “Country Roads.”
Almost heaven, West Virginia–country roads by john denver
Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees
Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze
West Virginia is considered the southern most northern state and the northern most southern state.West Virginia is known for its beautiful scenery of mountains and rolling hills. Nearly 75% of West Virginia is covered by forests. It’s also known for its historically significant logging and coal mining industries.
West Virginia’s official state food is a pepperoni roll and although it sounded delicious to me I couldn’t find a way to make it in the Instant Pot. I decided to make something called “soup beans.” This is a recipe that originated in the Appalachian states. Wintertime in the Appalachian mountains could be tough and families lived off of preserved and pantry foods. Dried pinto beans and corn were among the essential pantry ingredients. They were inexpensive too and could be bought in bulk. The creamy soup beans are typically served with a side of corn bread.
“If I ate twice what there was, it would’ve been half what I wanted.”Appalachian musician, Doc Watson on his love for soup beans
I made this recipe and my whole family loved it. Luckily I had all the ingredients I needed on hand. Pinto beans and corn meal plus some bacon and ham. Try out these soup beans and cornbread soon, it’s a comforting meal that will make you feel like you’re in the Appalachian mountains.
What should I serve with Instant Pot soup beans?
- Cornbread is typically served alongside soup beans. My favorite cornbread is this recipe, I love it with honey and butter.
- Chow Chow is pickled vegetable relish and it is often served with soup beans. You can find a chow chow recipe here.
- Diced Onions are sometimes added as a topping to soup beans.
- Fried Potatoes are often serve with soup beans in the Appalachian states.
Try these other Instant Pot recipes…
Instant Pot Dakota Smashed Pea And Barley Soup
Instant Pot Madras Lentils With Ground Beef
Instant Pot Chicken And White Bean Soup
Want more tried and true Instant Pot recipes?
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Instant Pot Appalachian Soup Beans
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes (plus 10 minute NPR)
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
A comforting bowl of creamy pinto beans flavored with smoky ham. A winter staple in the Appalachian states.
- 4 strips of uncooked bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 ham hock
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 pound dry pinto beans, soaked (see note)
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- Turn your Instant Pot to the saute setting. When the display says HOT add in the chopped bacon and cook it until it is crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon and set it aside.
- Add the onions into the pot and saute the onions in the bacon grease for about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute for about 20 seconds. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- Add in the bacon, cayenne pepper, ham hock, chicken broth and pinto beans.
- Cover the pot and secure the lid. Make sure valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 20 minutes. When time is up let the pot sit for 10 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid.
- Stir in the salt. Add in pepper to taste. Shred off any meat you can from the ham hock.
- Ladle into bowls and serve.
Soaking the beans: I know there are recipes that say you don’t need to soak but I find that the beans turn out much better if they are soaked overnight (plus your tummy will thank you). Soak the beans overnight for 8-24 hours in plenty of water and then rinse and drain the beans. If you forget to soak overnight you can use the quick soak method.
How to Quick Soak: Add the beans to your Instant Pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil using the saute setting. Once the water is boiling then quickly cover the pressure cooker and and turn valve to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 2 minutes. When time is up slowly move valve to venting. If foam escapes then move valve back to sealing for 20 seconds and try again. Remove the lid. Then rinse and drain the beans and use them in the recipe.
I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. Use your 8 quart pot with no changes. For the 3 quart pot you will need to halve the recipe, keep the same cooking time.
Slow Cooker Instructions: cook the bacon in a pan on the stove until crispy. Transfer the bacon to a slow cooker. Saute the onions in the bacon grease for 5 minutes then add in the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add in the cayenne pepper, ham hock, chicken broth and pinto beans. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Stir in the salt. Add in pepper to taste. Shred off any meat you can from the ham hock. Ladle into bowls and serve.
- Category: Beans
- Method: Instant Pot
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Kim B. says
Still working on that leftover Easter ham….Ha! Put the bacon in too. Best pot of beans I think I’ve ever made. Used dried beans, soaked for 24 hrs in salty water. Cooked up so creamy. Excellent recipe! Again, THANKS!!
I love this recipe too! I’m so glad you tried it!
Thanks for the 5 stars Lenora!
Absolutely the best pinto bean soup..EVER! Didn’t have ham hock so used a pound of cubed ham. I kept the Instant Pot time the same. Delicious ! Thank you for posting your recipe!
Wow thanks so much Dottie! I’m glad you loved it.
Kim Kacer says
Do you think I could double the recipe in a 6 qt, or would it be too much/full?
I think it might be too full…you could probably 1.5 times the recipe though
This is a great recipe. I did make a few preferential changes though. I added two pounds of whole smoked country (pork) ribs, 3/4 lb of andouille sausage and two cups of the pork broth from a previously made pork butt in a slow cook along with the pork butt bone and three cups of chicken broth. I also added ancho and chipotle chili powder.
Once the beans were done, I pulled about half of the beans and blended them, pulled large chunks of country style ribs and added both back to the pot. The blended beans provided for a thicker soup.
Well that sounds delightful! I wish I had a taste of your version!
I made another pot… Soooo good?
Nice!!! Love to hear this.
Thanks for all the yummy recipes.
When you’re talking about the slow cooker are you referring to the one on the instant pot?
If so could you give more details about how to use this feature on the instant pot?
Thanks ahead of time for all your help.
No, sorry, I should clarify that. I am talking about a separate appliance. The slow cook function on the IP is not that good. Many people have problems with it.
Dee Thompson says
My family is from Arkansas, this recipe is like what I grew up eating delicious thank you so much for sharing
I’m so glad to hear it Dee! Thank you.
Jennifer Wright says
I’m a WV girl & always loved my Grandma’s pinto beans. I made these with a mix of pinto beans & great northerns. They were absolutely delicious! Perfect on this cold winter day. I did the quick soak & cooked them 30 min. Thanks so much for the great recipe.
you’re so welcome Jennifer!
Made this pinto beans recipe tonight for dinner with corn bread, fried potatoes and bacon. They were delicious. Used the fast soak method and I did not have any cayenne pepper so I omitted. I also did not use meat from ham hock (just for flavoring).
My mother is from the poorest, southern most part of West Virginia right in the heart of coal country. She absolutely loved them. She said they were better than hers. That is a huge compliment as she has had the same family recipe for 60+ years.
3rd recipe for Instant Pot I have made of yours. All were absolutely delicious.
Thanks for sharing Crystal! I’m so glad your mom approved. What a great compliment!
Andrea Cox says
Karen, if I only use one cup of pinto beans in the recipe which ingredients would change??
Thank YOU for YOUR help and for all the delicious instant pot recipes.
I would just halve all the ingredients and keep the cooking time the same. 🙂
Your recipe makes my mouth water, it’s so delicious.
What do you think of putting white beans just picked from the garden, they will cook very quickly, what to do?
Can I cook in the Instant Pot?
Thank you, your recipes are always a great success at home, no one refuses these tasty menus … Thank you Karen
White beans from the garden? Hmmm. Are you talking about dried beans? Or is this some type of green bean?
Mick Barnes says
I made this exactly as the recipe called. It was OUTSTANDING! Thanks, Karen we (my wife and I) really enjoy your recipes.
So happy to hear this Mick! Thank you!
Wendy Luciano says
This is the best bean soup I have ever made or tasted!
Teresa Dawn says
Having been born and raised in WV, we ate pinto beans regularly. It’s funny to me that this simple yummy staple isn’t so staple to others. I was in my 30s before I realized that the rest of the world didn’t know what a pepperoni roll was. Lol
Today is Sunday. My 5 children and their families usually congregate back here at home for our Sunday Family Dinner (actually lunch, but I cook only once in Sundays). Today we are having pintos cooked with a ham bone in it, buttermilk biscuits, fried potatoes with a side of kielbasa in sauerkraut.
This is home cooking at it’s finest. Thank you for writing about our home state in such a positive way. I love my state and nothing feels better than seeing others enjoy its heritage. Thank you and bless your heart.
Ahhh, you are so sweet Teresa. This is why I love WV!!!
Can this recipe be halved for the 3 at Instant Pot?
Would the liquid need changed if I double the beans?
Yes I would use between 9-10 cups of liquid.
I can’t find dried pinto beans, can I used canned and if so, does anything change with the cooking time?
If you do canned I would drain and rinse them. Use 4 cans. Then reduce liquid to only 2 cups of broth. You may need less salt because the canned beans have salt in them. I would only cook for 5 minutes.
John Elliott says
I fixed a half of ham in my Instant Pot last Saturday according to your other recipes and I had a big bone and lots of trimming left over so I decided to make this recipe. I had two pounds of beans soaking so I made two batches according to this recipe. The second batch I tossed in a heaping tablespoon of smoked Paprika. Both batches came out terrific. We froze most of the bean soup. NOW, today is Tuesday and we had leftover bean soup for lunch. I am in heaven, the soup was great when I first made it, but today it is indescribably delicious.
It is crazy how much better it gets as time goes by. I ate mine for lunch everyday until it was gone and the last day it tasted the best!
I just read your recipe and the comments. It intrigued me. I love Keilbasa so thought cut a Keilbasa at an angle bite size and after doing an insta pot quick bean pre soak/cook add the Keilbasa with onion, garlic, maybe bell peppers any color, etc.. Persure cook for about five minutes. Thank you and your followers for giving me the thought, Allie
That sounds so tasty!
Made this for supper last night, and it was SO good! It reminds me of the bohnensuppe (German white bean soup) my dad used to make. I make it now to remember what he can’t, as he’d a victim of dementia.
Ahhh, thanks for sharing.
I assume the cooked bacon it put back in with the broth and beans, right? I also thought maybe it was to be sprinkled over the soup once it was done. I did put it in with the broth and beans. It had good flavor, but just a bit too liquidy. If made again, will use just 5 cups of broth. It was good with cornbread muffins.
Yes that’s what you’re supposed to do. I need to clarify that on the recipe. Mine thickened up significantly after it sat in the fridge overnight 🙂
From MO.- My mom made ham n beans and cornbread often sometimes with fried potatoes. Good comforting meal for our family of 8. Parents are in heaven now. We all still love it and cook them for our families. Thanks for the recipe I’ll be cooking some in my new instant pot before it gets to warm here in OK!
I love hearing this Tammy! Seems like a recipe from the old days that brings us back to our childhood 🙂
My mom made these ALL the time growing up. She had tomatoes in hers (of course she had no IP). Would it be ok to add tomatoes AFTER cooking (so it won’t interfere with beans softening)? Thanks.
Yes you could absolutely do that!
Mine came out good but not as good as my grandma used to make. I put a dab of catsup in a bowl of the beans just to see what the tomato taste would do. I actually loved the taste and next time I will add crushed tomatoes or Ro-Tel tomatoes and Green Chilis after it finishes cooking.
All in all a very good recipe. I did add salt after cooking because none was added before I cooked them and it was a little flat. The salt did help as did the tomatoes.
Nothing can be as good as grandmas!!!
After letting my soup beans sit in the frig overnight, they came out great. In fact, probably as good as my grandma used to make. I didn’t need to add tomato, just salt and they were terrific. Great recipe that brought back wonderful memories from my childhood.
Ahhh, so happy to hear this!
I looked at the picture and think I can see tomatoes in the mix. No tomatoes? Maybe it is the ham hocks I am seeing.?
Yep it’s ham hocks 🙂
I love this recipe with black-eyed peas, too! The Instant Pot makes the best beans!
That’s what Greg said, “you should make this with black eyed peas!”
I tried it, and it’s delicious! They come out so creamy. Real comfort food!
I know! I love how they are creamy!
I feel like an idiot, but I don’t remember seeing ham hocks in the market. Can a chunk of regular ham be substituted? Thanks
Absolutely! That’s what we do here in the south! Add some smoked sausage, too.
Yes it can!! It will give it flavor. If there is a ham bone even better.
I use cottage butt ask meat department at local market they can help
I’ve cooked this recipe the most with my instant pot. No more canned bean soup for me.
I don’t use bacon but I do have a maple bacon seasoning that I use. I cook the beans for 30 minutes. I don’t think they break down enough in 20 min.
I love the idea of maple bacon seasoning!
James Goacher says
Scrolled down the ingredients and fianlly saw Ham. OK accepted.
Cindy Marlow says
I love that with the Instant Pot we can have beans any day in just 20 (or so) minutes! My nutritionist suggested I work more beans into my diet and this allows me to use more fresh cooked instead of canned.
It’s a game changer!