Pinto Bean Soup with Masa and Queso Fresco Dumplings

Pinto Bean Soup with Masa and Queso Fresco Dumplings

Sopa de Ombligo 
6 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cilantro, green onions, masa, mexican crema, mint, onion, pati’s mexican table, pinto beans, queso fresco, Tomatoes
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Pinto Bean Soup with Masa and Queso Fresco Dumplings recipe from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 8, Episode 7 “Jinetes, Adventure in the Mountains”


  • 4 tablespoons canola or safflower oil, divided
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 pound (about 2) ripe Roma tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, divided, or to taste
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans, with 1 cup of their cooking broth
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 cup corn masa flour, preferably the masa harina mix for tamales, but masa harina for tortillas also works
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
  • Mexican crema, optional, for garnish
  • Sliced scallions, mint, cilantro and crushed dried chiltepín chiles or chiles de árbol, optional, for garnish

To Prepare

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy soup pot or casserole over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until it has completely softened, the edges are golden brown, and there is a toasted and sweet aroma wafting from the pot. Add the garlic clove and and cook for another minute until the garlic is fragrant and has colored. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 5 minutes until the tomatoes have cooked down to a soft, thick paste.
  • Add the beans along with 1 cup of their broth, as well as 4 cups of the chicken or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover partially and simmer for 10 minutes. The beans should be completely soft and the broth thick and soupy.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the masa for the dumplings. In a medium bowl, combine the corn masa flour with the water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Knead together with your hands. The dough will be very coarse and seem dry. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, queso fresco, cilantro, and mint, and mix together until the dough is very soft and homogenous, about 1 minute. Set aside.
  • Working in batches, puree the pinto bean soup in a blender until completely smooth. Pour back into the soup pot and whisk or stir in the remaining 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low.
  • Begin forming the dumplings. Scoop up enough masa to make 1-inch balls, roll them between your hands (moisten your hands with water if they stick and, one-by-one, gently drop them into the soup. Once all the masa balls have been shaped and added to the soup, gently stir with a wooden spoon to make sure none stick to the bottom. Cover the pot partially with a lid and let the soup simmer gently for 15 to 20 more minutes until the masa dumplings are cooked through. They will thicken the soup as they simmer.
  • Taste the soup for salt and add more if need be. Serve hot, garnishing each bowl with a spoonful of fresh Mexican cream if desired. You may also sprinkle on some sliced scallions, mint, cilantro, and crushed chiltepín chiles or chiles de árbol for a punch of heat.
  • Note: If you are lucky enough to live next to a tortilleria or store that sells fresh corn masa, already mixed, go for it! You will need about 3/4 pound. Just mix it with the queso fresco, oil, mint, cilantro, and salt. If you can’t get ahold of fresh masa, rest assured that the corn masa made with masa harina for tamales or tortillas will still be excellent. If you have a choice between corn masa flour for tamales or for tortillas (they are two different products; masa harina for tamales will say so on the package), go for the tamal mix for these dumplings. The masa harina for tortillas is finer than the flour for tamales, but it will still work.

16 comments on “Pinto Bean Soup with Masa and Queso Fresco Dumplings

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  1. My husband and I love watching Pati Sundays on PBS. I just made”Bellybutton Soup”, I have say so easy and a major plus, all ingredients are easily available. It is fantastic definitely a keeper!!!!

  2. I love this soup! I was able to easily make it vegan by using plant-based queso fresco and crema. I was surprised by how much time I needed to make the soup but it was certainly worth the effort! I saw Pati make this on her show and new I could adapt it to my vegan lifestyle. I love the show (I have several shows saved forever on my DVR) and can adapt many of the recipes. How about an episode with Mexican vegan/vegetarian meals?

  3. Love your show! When you say 3 cups cooked pinto beans… Which recipe of yours, would you recommend for cooking the beans first? I thought it might be your Frijoles de Olla? Can’t wait to make this this weekend, thanks!

  4. It looks like you put a thumbprint into your dumplings after rolling them into 1” balls. Is that the case? Or are they rolled like gnocchi?

    1. Oh no, I just put a little finger imprint in them, Loonchick. I first, roll the dumplings into 1-inch balls, then, with my little finger, I make a dimple in them.