I think I prefer this pinto bean recipe to taco soup. It is just that good. I made this using dried beans that I had soaked in water for 20 hours. At one point I learned that the longer you soak dried beans, the easier they are on the tummy. It is true. I know that the soaking time could be decreased if you wanted.
The meat I used for this was from a butcher. I purchased the bacon and ham end pieces. You could use any type of ham or bacon for this recipe. You do not have to purchase premium meat as it cooks for a such a long period of time that the meat will tenderize.
This soup cooks for approximately 2-4 hours. It is an all day type meal but most of the work really happens in the first 30 minutes. It is kind of slow and low cook type meal that is very hard to mess up. This recipe makes enough for 6-7 very large bowls of soup.
1.5 pounds of bacon ends and ham ends
1 large yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 large jalapenos, sliced
15 ounces of canned diced tomatoes – undrained
1 pound or 2 cups of dried pinto beans
5 chicken bouillon cubes
10 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mexican oregano
1 bunch fresh cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon and ham over medium heat until done. Remove the cooked meat from the pan and drain any fat.
Add the onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Replace approximately 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the meat back as well. Cook on medium to low heat for approximately 20 minutes or until the onions are soft and reduced.
Add the diced tomatoes, water, and all spices (including the cilantro). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours. Stir the soup every 20-30 minutes and add more water if needed.
Serve this with corn bread or toasted tortillas.