Problem soils impose various stresses on plants and significantly reduce crop yield. As a sizable area sown in food legume crops falls under the designation of problem soils, the development of tolerant varieties and appropriate agronomic practices to ameliorate problem soils is required to increase food legume production. With respect to food legume cultivation, research efforts focusing on the development of cultivars tolerant to problem soils and on integrated management practices for soil amelioration have been limited to date. Here we review the various types of problematic soils and recent efforts in the development of appropriate technologies, including high-throughput plant phenotyping, breeding of tolerant varieties, and innovations in agronomy, that are contributing to or potentially will contribute to the adaptation of food legume crops to problem soils. The significant points are: (1) recent advances in plant phenotyping platforms offer new suites of technologies that facilitate the rapid identification of new genes related to tolerance mechanisms and the rapid development of improved cultivars better adapted to adverse soil conditions; (2) advances in plant genomics and recent developments in plant phenomics contribute towards more precise measurements of plant traits of interest; and (3) improved agronomic practices with appropriate amelioration measures would help to bring about changes in the soil conditions, improving them for cultivation and also providing a practical solution for problem soils. Integrated approaches, including tolerant varieties, amelioration measures, and improved agronomic practices suitable for the region, have the potential to be a sustainable approach by which food legumes could be adapted to problem soils. © 2020, Springer Nature B.V.