Traditional African Brown Bean Soup

This traditional African brown bean soup will wrap you up like a warm Basotho blanket on a cold winter’s day. Legume-based soups are a dietary staple in Africa and this soup is nutritious, filling and easy to make. It’s the ideal mid-week meal for the whole family. You can use pinto beans if you can’t find brown beans to make this traditional soup, enjoyed by many all over Africa.


  • 5 ounces (145 grams) smoked bacon, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 5 shallots, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 (16-ounce) cans (1 1/3 kilograms) canned brown beans, or pinto beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 12 ounces (375 milliliters) of tomato puree 
  • 2 cups (500 milliliters) beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
  • Sweet soy sauce or Worcester sauce, to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery leaves


  1. In a large soup pot, fry the bacon in the butter. Add the shallots, carrot, leek and ground paprika. Mix well. Now add the beans, tomato puree, stock and bay leaves.
  2. Bring the soup to a boil, cover and then turn down the heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Season to taste with salt, pepper and Worcester sauce. Then, blitz the soup half-smooth, using a stick blender or food processor. The soup should still have texture and not be completely smooth. Add the celery leaves right before serving.


  • Dutch brown beans are also known as Swedish brown beans. 
  • Add extra stock if you like a thinner soup, but keep in mind that traditional African Brown Bean soup is supposed to be a thick, hearty soup.