Beans at their best.
Fall is soup season — an especially good thing when beans are involved. I am going to assume that I am not the only person who short-circuited this past spring and bought tons of beans for whatever pandemic grocery apocalypse was possibly going to strike. Now, months later, I find myself with an excess of beans. That is a good thing. This black bean soup recipe with all the fixin’s is exactly what I want to eat right now — and, given my pantry bean supply, forever.
You’ll also enjoy: Green Chile Cornbread and Rosemary White Bean Soup
Everyone needs and deserves a good black bean soup recipe. Bean soups make a nourishing and satisfying dinner, so hearty that they stand on their own as dinner. I especially love black bean soup because of its Mexican or Southwest flavor slant, and because it can be heaped with all the best toppings: cheese, scallions, cornbread, sour cream, cilantro, you name it.
Black bean soup is also a nutrition powerhouse. Black beans contain lots of protein, fiber, and nutrients like iron, magnesium and selenium. Their health benefits include strengthening bones, keeping blood sugar low, aiding digestion, and even helping with blood pressure and cancer prevention.
Recipe Notes: Black Bean Soup
- This recipe can easily be made vegan. Cut the bacon and replace the chicken broth with water. The flavor of the herbs and spices will still make it very tasty.
- Topping your soup. Add as few or as many as you like. I like setting up a little fixin’s bar in the middle of the table. Suggested toppings include: sour cream (plain Green yogurt as a substitute), cornbread croutons, cilantro, diced red onion, grated cheddar or jack cheese, sliced jalepeño peppers, and sliced scallions. This recipe already calls for bacon, but feel free to top with some extra in the form of crumbled bacon as well because, well, bacon.
- Substituting dried beans. This recipe uses four cans of black beans for ease and speed. This soup only cooks for about 30 minutes. But you can easily substitute one pound of dried black beans. Boil them in water with a teaspoon of baking soda until softened. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, cook the onions and bacon together. Add the onions and bacon into the softened black beans and proceed with the recipe as normal. It will take about an hour to soften the beans, longer if you do not use baking soda.
- Soup, like cake, is even better the next day. It will thicken slightly, and the flavors will meld together better.
- If you like a very thick soup, use 3 cups of broth or water, and not the full quart.
What is your favorite bean soup? Share below.
Black Bean Soup With All the Fixin's
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 15-ounce cans unsalted black beans, with the liquid
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- minced jalepeño, optional
- 2 ounces bacon, diced (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 quart chicken broth or water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and more to taste
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or fresh lime juice
- Any combination of sour cream (plain Green yogurt as a substitute), cornbread croutons, cilantro, lime wedges, diced red onion, grated cheddar or jack cheese, sliced jalepeño pepper, and sliced scallions
- In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and bacon and cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent and the bacon fat renders, about 5 to 7 minutes. Pour off some, but not all, of the grease.
- Add the garlic, bay leaves, green bell pepper, and some minced jalepeño, if using. Stir for two minutes more. PRO TIP: For a full pot of black bean soup with medium heat, I recommended a full jalepeño pepper, without the seeds. The seeds are very spicy. You can always go up in spice by adding some seeds.
- Add the beans with their liquid, oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt, and the broth or water. Stir. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
- Cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. The liquid will reduce a bit.
- Using a food processor, immersion blender, or regular blender, blend half of the soup and return it to the pot. (Be careful -- do not burn yourself!)
- Stir in 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar or lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Ladle into bowls and serve with toppings of choice.