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.

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

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  1. Simply deliciosa! My boys were not sure what to think while I was making it but after smelling the aromas and tasting it they approved and I loved how easy and quick it was to make! The dumplings were like yummy little pillows to compliment the flavorful bean goodness . I will be making this again very soon! Thank you for all your yummy authentic recipes!

  2. I made this last night, using some masa mix I had left in the freezer from making tamales, with thoughts of using that for the dumplings. Apparently, this is a different density of masa mix as it completely dissolved in the soup. I will try again using the dumpling instructions provided in this recipe. I also forgot to buy Roma tomatoes. I had some Rotel tomatoes and chiles in the pantry, so used 2 cans of those. Even with the dumplings dissolved, this soup was awesome. I do believe I’ll use the canned Rotel tomatoes when I try it again.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Rita! Yes, this dumplings are different than tamales masa, but so glad to hear you liked the soup anyway, I am sure the dissolved masa gave it a nice texture as well 😉

  3. Pati, it has been a while since I saw the episode, but I was intrigued by your entire trip to Sonora. I saw this recipe and knew I wanted to make it. Tonight I decided to try it. Of course as usual I lacked a few ingredients but I improvised. I cooked a couple of slices of pork belly and a few veggies and a chipotle pepper and a bit of the sauce. I loved the Smokey flavor of the pepper. My husband loved it. I didn’t have cilantro but I made a cabbage slaw with sliced radishes with a vinaigrette to top the soup. Delish. Thank you. You have so inspired my cooking style.
    Patty G.

  4. Hi Pati, I saw you make this soup and had to try it. It is very delicious and unusual.
    Two things I’ve done to make it a main dish soup, added more vegetables and a little chicken.
    Also, my family loves this soup and they are crazy about the dumplings, so much so that I now
    make a double batch of dumpling dough and put half in the freezer for a future pot of this
    wonderful soup. Thanks for the great recipe!

  5. Hola Pati!! I had such a great time making this soup with my kids. They LOVED the dumplings. My son, who is Mr. Picky, had 2 helpings! I will have to make more next time. Thanks for such wonderful recipes and your awesome show.

  6. One of my new comfort foods! I’ve had great success down under (Australia) with this recipe. I found the masa harina flour and used soft paneer cheese as a substitute for Queso Fresco. It was soooo delicious! I can’t get over how the simple ingredients of pinto beans and tomatoes make such a tasty soup plus the dumplings make it so satisfying – especially on a freezing cold and wet Sunday here in the southern hemisphere…. I’ll be making this again for family and friends!
    Thank you so much Patti 🙂 🙂

    1. Thanks to you Heattie, happy to hear you were able to get your hands on some masa harina. I’m sure paneer was also delicious in this soup, enjoy 😉

  7. I’m in far away Australia …. and this looks like a great recipe to try with my grandchildren this week (during this pandemic lockdown). Just hope I can find the masa flour here.
    Thank you

    1. Crossing my fingers for you to find it Heattie, it is really a yummy soup and fun to prepare with kids. Good luck!

  8. Made this for dinner tonight and it turned out as delicious as we expected after seeing it on your show. Will definitely be making it again! Thanks so much for your wonderful show! Our whole family enjoys it! Next we want to make that bread pudding from the same episode. Thanks again and take care!

  9. Muchas gracias Pati! I’m almost finished cooking this soup and it smells wonderful. My husband and I love you show. We can’t wait to try more recipes!

  10. Hola Pati!
    I wanted to thank you for this delicioso recipe! We saw this episode last week and before I could mention how good it sounded, my wife beat me to it. I made it this evening, and it was so good. I squeezed a bit of lime juice in mine, and sprinkled a bit of cotija cheese on top. I printed off several other recipes, and can’t wait to try them.

    1. Lime juice and cotija cheese! Yummy additions Mark, I am sure your soup was delicious 😉 My best to you and your wife.

  11. Absolutely delicious! I have made this recipe twice since seeing it on PBS in April. I doubled the recipe both times because we love this so much and we love having leftovers for the next day . The only changes I made were to hold back about 1 cup of the broth to produce a stronger Bean flavor. Also, I used an immersion blender and decided to leave some chunks of beans throughout the soup for more texture. Can you tell that we like our beans? I was amazed at how the Masa dumplings impart a wonderful Masa dough flavor into the broth itself. This is a perfect comfort soup during the covid-19 pandemic.

  12. We made this for Mother’s Day dinner because my mom had two teeth pulled the week before – ouch – and we wanted something ‘souper’ easy….It was GREAT!! The soup is so flavorful it can be eaten by itself, but who can resist dumplings?? I love the extras you added to the masa in this recipe. We’re having the leftovers tonight with fresh dumplings because of course those got gobbled up the first go-round. Thank you so much for introducing us all to the vast array of Mexican dishes, as well as giving the personal background into the different cultures. We love every episode!

    1. Thanks so much Shannon for your message, glad to hear this soup was spot on. I hope your Mom was not in bad pain for a long time!

  13. Pati, my whole family loves your show including my kids 7, 5, 3. My husband and I lived in Mexico for a year and love authentic Mexican food. We are having Sopa de ombligo for dinner tonight. What do you recommend to serve alongside it?

  14. I just saw you make this on tv and it looks so good…I hope will taste as good as yours. I love watching your shows and wish I was young again and could cook like you. Thank you for all your recipes and tours of Mexico. I’m Italian and our cultures are so similar. I can’t wait for your new season.

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words Francine; stay tuned, the new season will start airing this Fall 😉

    1. Hi Debra, I don’t think it has a particular name, we just call it a molinito or little grinder. It is a great tool, but I don’t think it is easy to find 🙂

  15. Hi Pati, your programs are inspirational & fueled by boundless enthusiasm & culinary genius! We just caught this episode tonight, and plan on making a batch of your ‘Belly Button’ soup. Happen to have made chicken stock today & theres a bag of pinto beans on the shelf so perfect timing. Plus have some smoke dried chiltepins to crumble on the finished soup – that came from the Mercado in Nuevo Laredo a LONG time ago, but have kept quite well, still packing good heat & flavor. Thank you, all the best to you and family and stay safe!

  16. Thanks for the great recipe. I love the cheese and herbs in the chochoyotes! I’ve made this before and decided I wanted some subtle heat so this time I added 2 dried Arbol chiles to the beans along with the onion and tomato. And then puréed with everything else. Turned out to be a great addition.

    I also doubled the beans portion of the recipe and set it aside after I puréed it. Planning to use it for enfrijoladas later in the week!

  17. I love you program once I seen how delicious this soup looked I just have to try your recipe. Thank you Elena D.I will remain a true supporter of your program, youre an amazing chef 🙏💓💋

  18. I just watched this episode and I fell in love with that amazing sopa. We have an amazing Mexicano grocery store in Detroit and the next time I visit, I am getting the masa to make the dumplings. I LOVE your show and your amazing country! Thank you for bringing your beautiful smile and awesome recipes for us to recreate in our own kitchens.

  19. Hi Pati, I was making tortillas and had leftover masa and remembered your belly button soup because it looked so simple and yummy. I didn’t look up the recipe because I was already in the kitchen so mine isn’t the same but the idea was there. We had just finish making a fresh pot of beans for dinner also. I drained the liquid into a new pot and added some of the beans. Into the masa, I mixed garlic powder, oregano, and cotija (didn’t have queso fresco) and dropped them into the bean juice. The result was delicious. Yay for leftovers! Thank you for the inspiration.

  20. Pati. Ame verte hoy en tv y te busque en Instagram eres extraordinaria !! No pude ver en la receta de hoy que tipo de carne usaste. No soy muy buena en elegir buena carne. Preparaste una base de papas chorizo cebollas trocitos de carne y un huesito en el top y la sal sita de tomate y jalapeño eso se veía tan delicioso. felicitaciones !!! Y también quisiera consultarte que tipo de queso blanco le pones a tus recipes ( brand). Mucha gracias Un Beso

  21. Hello. I saw you make this on television and thought it sounded interesting. A great meatless meal. I followed your recipe exactly and looked just like your picture and it WAS AMAZING!!! I love your show.

    1. Thanks so much Shelley! Stay tuned as the new Season is coming out in the Fall and it is going to be so much fun 😉

  22. Hi Pati, what a wonderful show of not only recipes but the travels you make. Though we have been through beautiful Mexico, there has much we have missed. With you show we have learned about the different corners of this country and the people. What a wonderful life these kind and respectable people have. Someday we look forward returning. We look forward to your show and the many places you are so lucky to go. Thank you

  23. Hola Pati! Mire su programa por primera vez en PBS y aunque soy nacida en Mexico creída en los Estados Unido nunca he hecho esta receta. La hice ahora y toda mi familia le encantó! Estoy emocionada de ver su programa y continuar cocinar sus recetas! Muchas gracia Pati es muy simpática y le deseo mucho éxito!

    I recommend this soup it’s a perfect hardy soup for cold rainy days any day and especially to enjoy while we are indoors during these times!

    1. Gracias Mariana! Que alegria saber que la familia disfruto mucho de esta sopa, es de mis favoritas. Gracias por ver el programa 😉

  24. 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!!!!

  25. 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?

  26. 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!

  27. 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.