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This black bean and hominy recipe sounds like an odd combo — but it's actually the ultimate budget-saving cold-weather dish

The dish comes together easily with mostly hands-off cooking using an electric pressure cooker.

Delicious recipe hominy and black beans

Photo Credit: iStock

Black beans with sweet potatoes and hominy sounds like an unlikely combination, but according to Anthony Underwood (recipe developer, kitchen expert, and co-author of the free What's 4 Dinner? newsletter), it is the perfect budget-friendly, plant-forward meal to make this winter. 

The dish comes together easily with mostly hands-off cooking using an electric pressure cooker, but best of all, the ingredients are inexpensive, so you can feed your entire family for mere pennies.

First things first: You don't need to soak black beans for 24 hours before cooking them. That's the magic of using the energy-efficient electric pressure cooker. 

Black beans create an earthy base for a hearty soup that teeters on the edge of being a stew (and can be vegetarian or vegan with a simple swap). 

Sweet potatoes and chewy hominy add texture and a welcomed sweetness when paired with smoky chipotle chilies and bacon fat. 

Top the soup with some bright cilantro, fruity avocado, salty cotija cheese, and a squeeze of lime juice, and you've got good eating on your table from a bag of dried beans.

The key to really good beans (and everything else in life) is to add plenty of fat and salt. It can be olive oil, smoky bacon fat, or even beef tallow … but you need about a quarter of a cup. 

And while there's lots of debate as to when to salt your beans, you need to salt them with at least a tablespoon of kosher salt per pound of beans. At What's 4 Dinner?, we are firmly on the salt-as-you-cook side of the fence.

To get cooking, melt 3 heaping tablespoons of bacon fat in the pot of your electric pressure cooker on the medium sauté setting. If you want to make these vegetarian or entirely plant-based, simply use your favorite cooking oil, like extra virgin olive oil. Split an onion in half and smash some peeled garlic cloves. Let them sear in the hot fat until they're lightly golden brown. No need to do any fine chopping here, you're going to fish them out later. 

*Tip: If you don't have bacon fat laying around, chop three pieces of (thick-cut) bacon and add them to the (room-temp) dry pot. As the pot preheats, the bacon will begin to render its fat and crisp up. Once it's cooked to your liking, scoop out the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon (reserve for garnish or another use). If there's still not enough fat in the pot, supplement with olive oil.

After the onion and garlic get some color to them, add tomato paste, chopped chipotle chilies (sold in a jar already chopped), some ground cumin, and chili powder. If you're using olive oil instead of bacon fat, add a teaspoon of smoked paprika to impart a smoky flavor to the beans. 

Cook this until the tomato paste has lost its bright red color. Add the dried beans and 2 quarts of water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock. 

Another key to really good beans is to add some acidity, so halve a lemon and throw it in the pot along with a sprig of epazote or a couple of sprigs of cilantro. Season with salt and pepper, then seal the machine (making sure the vent is switched to "seal"). 

Pressure cook the beans for 45 minutes on high and let the pressure release naturally (this will ensure the beans are super creamy). If you don't have time to let the pressure release naturally, quick release them and test one to see if it's the correct firmness for your taste.

Once the machine has released pressure, fish out the onion and lemon halves, along with the herbs and garlic cloves. At this point, you have a brothy pot of incredibly rich and flavorful black beans.

Switch your pressure cooker to sauté mode, and add some diced sweet potato. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Once you can easily pierce a sweet potato with the tip of your knife, add a can of drained-and-rinsed hominy. Finish with a handful of chopped cilantro just before serving.

Serve with warm tortillas (flour or corn), tortilla chips, or even cheese quesadillas. Ladle the soup into bowls and top them with diced avocado, cheese, scallions, and lime. This veggie-forward dinner is packed with so much flavor and texture, your family won't miss the meat — a win for you and the environment!

For more delicious dinner ideas, entertaining tips, and fabulous new food finds, subscribe to What's 4 Dinner?, a free weekly newsletter written by Anthony Underwood (@underwa) and Elizabeth Karmel (@elizabethkarmel).

Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Hominy Soup

Serves 4-6


  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat, pork fat, or 3 strips of thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled and split in half through root
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 pound (16 oz.) dried black beans, rinsed and picked over for debris
  • 1 large sprig epazote, or 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 whole lemon, halved
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken stock, or water and 1 tablespoon of bouillon
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced ½-inch; about 2-3 cups
  • 1 (25 oz.) can hominy, drained & rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For serving: lime wedges, crumbled cotija cheese, diced avocado, thinly sliced scallions, tortillas, tortilla chips


  1. On the sauté function (medium heat), melt fat in the pot, or cook bacon to render fat and remove cooked bacon with a slotted spoon (reserve for garnish or another use).

  2. Split peeled onion in half from pole-to-pole, so the root keeps the onion intact (this will make it easier to fish out of the cooked soup later). Add onion to the hot fat, cut side down along with garlic cloves, and cook until lightly golden — about five minutes.

  3. Add tomato paste, chipotle chilies, cumin, and chili powder, and cook until the tomato paste turns brick red, about three mins.

  4. Add dried beans, liquid (stock or water), epazote/cilantro, lemon, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Seal the lid and pressure cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. If you have the time, let pressure release naturally to create creamier beans. If you're short on time, quick release the pressure at the end of cooking — beans will be tender, but firmer than letting the pressure release naturally. With a pair of tongs and a slotted spoon, fish out and discard the onion, garlic cloves, herb sprigs, and lemon halves.

  5. Set the pressure cooker to sauté setting on low (or whichever setting that creates a simmer without being too vigorous). Add the peeled and diced sweet potatoes, and stir to combine. Simmer until the potatoes are tender and a knife tip can easily pierce one, about 12 to 15 minutes. This simmering time also helps thicken the broth. When sweet potatoes are cooked, add the hominy (that has been drained and rinsed in a fine-mesh sieve). Simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the hominy is warmed through and has a pleasing chewiness.

  6. Set heat to "keep warm" and stir in chopped cilantro. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with garnishes, as desired.


You can make this recipe vegetarian or vegan by swapping the bacon fat for olive or vegetable oil. To impart a smoky flavor, add a teaspoon of smoked paprika in step 3.

For more delicious dinner ideas, entertaining tips, and fabulous new food finds, subscribe to What's 4 Dinner?, a free weekly newsletter written by Anthony Underwood (@underwa) and Elizabeth Karmel (@elizabethkarmel).

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