Let’s make a side dish… Black Bean Soup!

Life becomes more important for two months and I cast aside my little blog … how unfair!

As promised,  I might as well jump directly back in here with one of my favorite recipes for a flavorful and simple black bean soup. When I have the opportunity to order this dish at a restaurant I always do so because every chef puts their own spin on it! I have had soups that are creamier than others, some filled with veggies, even others that have shredded chicken in them. All in all, black bean soup is one thing that can be transformed in so many different ways, but never ruined.

Black bean sop coupled with so many different dishes. The paella serves as a nice match up because the the vegetables that go into the soup mix well with the flavors that are tasted in the paella. It is also highly recommended to mix the beans amongst the rice to create fusion of these flavors!

To give credit where it is due, I used a recipe by Douglas Rodriguez, which can be found on Epicurious.com and adapted it into my own version of black bean soup. I first made Rodriquez’s dish exactly as he instructs and it seemed too watery, and not flavorful enough. My adaptations provide for a soup with increased flavor and a thicker base.

The black beans used in this case will be uncooked therefore, the first step here is to purchase

  • 2 pounds of dried black beans

They are cheap, and easy to find. I prefer to go to Whole Foods and buy mine, but the Goya brand beans are also great brand and can be found in any local supermarket.

This recipe needs to be started EARLY, as the beans need ample to cook. It is important that right away, from the two pounds of black beans, you submerge  i

  • 1 pound + 1/2 cup of the beans

in THREE quarts of water along with three bay leaves.

The choice to use over a pound is to increase the thickness of the soup. In the end if you feel that your soup is too thick you can always add more water to loosen up the dish. When going through this step make sure that the lid of the pot is on at all times. As these beans start to reach a boil, stir them every few minutes and make sure that there are no beans fixing themselves into the bottom of the pan.

Once the beans are boiling, reduce the heat to medium, or depending on what type of cook top you have, possibly medium low if the boil is still too intense, and let the beans cook for 2 to 3 hours. As before, stir these beans constantly. If you find that your beans are becoming too soft before the 2 to 3 hours have elapsed, turn off the heat completely and let the beans rest with the lid off of the pot.

As the beans are cooking, the veggie portion of the dish needs to be made –

This will require

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3 shallots
  • 2 large onion

Each of these vegetables needs to be properly cleaned and chopped. As you do so, place them all in a large bowl together. Once everything is completely chopped, remove the contents from the bowl and place them in a skillet that has 1 cup of heated extra virgin olive oil in it.

The vegetables will take about 10-15 minutes to cook properly so that the peppers are slightly soft and the onions are no longer noticeably white.

At this point you should add to the saucepan

  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt (or garlic powder)

and allow all of those flavors to properly coat the vegetables. This should take only a minute or so, and once the veggies look properly mixed, turn of the heat and let the pan cool.

After most of the heat has escaped from the vegetables, carefully take them a or nd place them in either a food processor a blender. Puree this until the colors are blended perfectly together.

Before combining this mixture with the cooking beans, use a spoon to remove one of your beans to test for firmness. Make sure that the beans are not over cooked to mush, but if they are soft to the touch and able to chew on, it is okay to add this puree along with salt to taste. I say this with extreme caution, DO NOT PUT TOO MUCH SALT. Like extra water, salt can always be added and but NEVER removed. My personal choice is to put about

  • 2 – 2 1/2 tablespoons of salt

You will also want to add

  • 1 tablespoon of sugar

I am unable to eat refined white sugar, so in my case I use three packets of either Stevia or Splenda. Evaporate Cane Juice is also an awesome choice in order to keep this dish completely healthy!

The most important step comes now, but it is also a step you can partake in by choice. Depending on how thick you want your soup to be, either let the contents simmer WITH the lid on – this will keep the soup more loose or let the contents simmer WITHOUT the lid on – leaving the water to cook out and providing for thicker mix.

After about 20 to 30 minutes the soup will be ready to be placed in a BIG bowl, please don’t be stingy with your soup, it is too tasty for that! If you choose to garnish it with anything from a light shredded cheese, to a dollop of nonfat yogurt or light sour cream remember that it is a side dish so the heavier you garnish it the more filling it will be.

This soup is an excellent choice if you want to stay healthy, while also trying to find something that will serve as comfort food! Enjoy.


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