Surviving with Simplicity – A Nutritious Soup Recipe That is Saving Our Family Time and Money.

Simple Bean Soup

The same feeling of anxiety that I remember from grocery shopping when our first baby was tiny was starting to creep back into my grocery shopping habits. We have been taking care of four much older children in a world where certain categories of food are really expensive. Walmart pick-up times have been next to impossible to get. Both parents in our household have been working more than full-time hours. Waiting in line outside of a grocery store is impossible with parents working long hours and exhausted at night. I can only buy certain categories of products a few items at a time.

When I was a little girl, I remember eating bowl after bowl of pinto beans and home-made whole wheat bread that my mom out of wheat flour that she ground in a floor mill on the counter. Those beans came from a granary on the border of Kansas and Colorado in 50 pound bags that lived in a corner of the kitchen.

When the pandemic started, we needed something that I could cook with limited time, so I bought a variety of legumes to stocked our pantry. That decision has made things so much easier over the last few weeks as our team has worked countless hours making and shipping the diapers that the world has needed. We are headed into summer and, still, night after night, the ring of beans in the bottom of the stainless steel InstantPot fills the kitchen as I reach for “something easy” yet again. I know what to do with them. It’s easy. Everyone will eat them now and, magically, they can become the base of innumerable other dishes.

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The world is full of families like ours. I wanted to share the Simple Bean Soup recipe that my parents made for years with some minor changes that I use today in my own kitchen. You can put these ingredients in the Crockpot and let them cook all day like they did. Today, I make beans in my InstantPot at least twice a week and have Simple Bean Soup in about an hour.


  • 2 cups dried pinto beans, washed
  • 1 large onion, peeled & chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & sliced
  • 3 stalks celery with leaves, sliced
  • 10 1″ pieces of raw bacon (the easiest way to get this is to just cut off the end of a package of bacon)
  • 1 jalapeño sliced (optional, leave out if you’re sensitive to spicy food)
  • 2 T. chicken bouillon
  • 1 t. salt
  • Healthy dash of thyme
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (also optional)

Directions: Place all ingredients in the InstantPot and fill 2/3 full with hot water. Turn the InstantPot on to the Soup setting and increase time to 60 minutes. Once soup is finished, vent the InstantPot and serve soup topped with sour cream and grated cheddar cheese. Optionally, pour Simple Bean Soup over freshly made rice. Bismati rice is my favorite rice to serve with this soup.

Helpful tips and ideas:

  • Replace the pinto beans in this recipe with a bag of “mixed beans”, or make your own using lentils, navy beans, or other types of dried legumes.
  • Add cream to your soup.
  • Top with sour cream, cheese, and salsa.
  • Make a burrito or taco.
  • Spoon vegetables and beans over the top of an omelette.
  • Use in place of meat in some of your favorite recipes.
  • Add other vegetables to taste in your soup. I’ve always enjoyed this with lots of celery leaves and most of a (clean) celery root intact for extra flavor.
  • If you’re a parent with kids who don’t like vegetables, leave the veggies whole while cooking and then grind them up (very) using an emulsion blender to make them “go away”.
  • Bones are helpful for flavor while cooking.

Beans store well. Speaking from experience, both as a child and as an adult, beans will save your family so much money on groceries!

I hope this recipe blesses your family the way it has blessed mine.

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By the way, Amazon has a special offer on Amazon Prime for families on select U.S. government assistance programs. Prime is just $5.99/month for qualifying customers (such as holders of the EBT card).

Jenn is the Founder and CEO of Cotton Babies. She holds an Executive MBA from Washington University. She was awarded Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Emerging Category for the Central Midwest Region in 2011. Among many other awards, she recently received a 2017 YWCA Leader of Distinction Award for Entrepreneurship. Jenn holds many patents on various inventions in a number of different countries and is listed as one of 50 Missourians You Should Know. She is particularly fascinated by languages, chickens, and children (she has four) when she’s not reading economics journals.

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