Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black Bean Soup

This soup is replete with tomato flavor, so if you are looking for a more deeply "beany" soup like the kind at Panera, you'll have to look elsewhere. Like that other soup, this is deeply satisfying on those cold winter months.

The fresh cilantro in this dish makes a pretty bold flavor note, so if you happen to be one of those people who absolutely cannot abide cilantro, don't worry, it's plenty flavorful without it.

Black Bean Soup

  • ½ cup black beans, dried 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch (less than 1/8 teaspoon) baking soda - See Notes
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper chopped
  • ½ hot green pepper, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili seasoning*
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • fresh cilantro, chopped plus additional (to garnish)
  • Greek yogurt

  1. Soak the beans overnight or do a quick soak by placing the dried beans in a medium sauce pan with enough water to cover twice over. Add a pinch of baking soda and bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit, covered for 2 hours.

  2. Drain the beans and rinse very well. Then place beans back in the saucepan.

  3. Add 3 cups water and bay leaf.

  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and let cook 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, until beans are tender. Check the water level occasionally, adding more as necessary.

  5. Remove bay leaf. Drain the beans.

  6. In a medium sauce pan, over medium-high heat, sauté onion, and shallots in olive oil until they become soft and translucent.

  7. Add the celery, hot pepper and bell pepper and saute for another 5 minutes.

  8. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.

  9. Add the chipotle chili seasoning, the can of tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring to a rolling boil.

  10. Add the drained, cooked beans.

  11. Reduce heat and simmer 5-7 minutes longer.

  12. Remove about half of the mixture to a blender and puree return pureed soup to the pot - or if you have an immersion blender, use it in the pot.

  13. Stir in the salsa and about 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro.

  14. Taste to adjust seasoning. Add the cumin and more chipotle chili seasoning if necessary.

  15. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a healthy dose of Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you prefer) and a few more sprigs of cilantro.

* Chipotle Chili Seasoning

I made this to replace the sodium-laden packet of taco seasoning for that 7-layer Taco dip. It was so good, that I've decided to use it in everything that might be considered remotely Mexican.

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder, or pulverized dried chipotle chili
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika - if you can find pimentón, smoked Spanish paprika, use this
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  1. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper.

  2. Store in an airtight container, like an empty spice jar.

  1. Adding baking soda to the soaking phase is supposed to help reduce the gas factor of the beans. I honestly do not know if this is real or just another kitchen myth, but in my experience, it seems to work. Then again, I also take Beano some of the time. I am also used to a diet rich in beans and legumes, so perhaps it doesn't effect me as harshly as it does others.

  2. For a "beanier" taste, you could add the beans' cooking liquid in lieu of some of the vegetable broth.

  3. More fun links dealing with the cilantro issue:


  1. I like this soupe. It looks delicious.
    See soon.

  2. I love black bean soup. This looks great for this time of year.

  3. It really is a great cold-weather soup. I may have to make more this weekend. I am also toying with the idea of a good chili.


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