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Better Black Bean Soup

What you need: 

1 lb dried black beans, washed, sorted, and soaked either overnight or by quick-soak
method
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
2 whole chipotle jalapenos
1/8 teaspoon baking soda (helps beans retain their color)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup vegan "chicken" broth (I use Imagine No-Chicken Broth)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
juice of 1 orange
juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

What you do: 

Tired of black bean soup that's nothing but insipid purple-gray mush? This recipe features tender whole beans in a nicely thickened broth, and a bold flavor that's spicy, smoky, and fresh all at once.
Place the soaked, drained, rinsed beans in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven with the water, bay leaves, whole chipotles, and baking soda. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer covered about 1 hour, adding salt halfway through cooking.* Check several beans for doneness. When done, remove the bay leaves. Remove the chipotles, mince, and return to pot. Remove about 1 1/2 cups of beans and liquid, puree in a blender, and return to pot. You can puree additional beans for a thicker, smoother texture.
While the beans are cooking, finely chop all the vegetables and juice the orange and limes, setting the juice aside.
When the beans have about 15 minutes left, saute the onion, carrot, celery and bell pepper in the olive oil over medium heat 5-7 minutes. Add the cumin and cayenne, then saute for another 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add minced garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
Add the vegetables to the finished beans and deglaze the saute pan with the no-chicken broth. Simmer covered about 15 minutes (or leave uncovered if the soup is too thin for your taste). Add the orange and lime juice and cilantro just before serving. Check flavor and add seasonings as needed, simmering the soup a couple more minutes to incorporate any added seasonings.
Garnish with your choice of: diced tomatoes, diced avocado, cilantro leaves, vegan sour cream (I use Tofutti), or lime wedges.
The two chipotles give a medium smoky heat. If you like it hotter, you can add part or all of a minced fresh jalapeno with the vegetables, or increase the amount of cayenne.
* There is conflicting information about salting beans during cooking. Many knowledgeable vegetarian sources claim that salting the beans early toughens them and lengthens cooking time. However, another source I trust tested it and found this not to be true, and also found that salting them early gives a better flavor. I compromise by salting halfway through.
If you have a pressure cooker, you can cook the beans in about 15 minutes and cut a lot of time off this recipe.

Preparation Time: 
1 hour, 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 
Servings: 
6
Recipe Category: 

SO HOW'D IT GO?

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Suzanne Kim

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OMG!!!! This soup is amazing!  All of the favors with each bite...every spoonful a delight!  I will make this soup again and again and again...thank you for sharing the recipe!

S

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Yummy! I did change the recipe a bit: I used no-chicken broth for all of the water, omitted the celery, added 2 cubed potatoes, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and some chopped "sausage." After blending, I decided I needed more beans (I like creamy yet chunky soups), so I added a can of black beans at the last minute. Next time, I will sautee the vegetables in the stock pot beforehand and just add them at the beginning - less dishwashing. Oh, and I salted halfway through (but I cut down to one tsp because of the broth). I served it with homemade bread and it was delicious!

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This is a very good soup.  I'd say that of all the soups I've tried to make lately, it's the best one.  And it's certainly better than my attempts at black bean soup.  I think that the secrets to this recipe are the chipotle and the juices.  It has a really full bodied flavor with a little bite to it.

I overdid the blending and got a creamy base with whole beans in it.  I think it would have been better to just blend a very short time or even just mash it with a potato masher. 

I used a pressure cooker and I love it.  it's the only way I can get beans to get tender.  For some reason I can cook beans 6 hours in a normal pot and still they are firm.  Maybe it's the salt.  But I love my pressure cooker.

Other changes I made were that I used vegetable broth instead of no-chicken.  And I used 2 T of chipotle sauce instead of actual peppers. 

It's my new favorite soup, and I'll be sharing it with my friends at the next potluck.

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Woohoo, always looking for soup that uses dried beans. This one looks really good... definitely going to try it as soon as I get my butt back into a kitchen. (Dorm life is tough on food snobs...) I <3 Black Bean soup...

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