Black Bean Soup

My friend Theresa had a favorite recipe for black bean soup to share with me before I left my job last October. In an effort to eat healthily (and inexpensively – beans are cheap!), I decided I would go ahead and try it!

Black Bean Soup

2 stalks celery
1 medium onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp ground cumin
1.5 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp thyme
2 pounds 1 pound dried beans, cooked, with liquid reserved (total of 8 cups, or 4 cans) [Edit 2015: use 2 pounds if you want a thick, dip-like soup; cook 1 pound if you want a soup-like soup]
2 cups salsa
(smoked paprika, chipotle chile powder, or a little chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce – I didn’t use this, but I think it would be great!)

Dice vegetables and saute with garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add spices and cook briefly. Add black beans with enough liquid to equal around eight cups. Add salsa and simmer 30 minutes. Makes 6-8 servings.

Although the recipe originally called for canned black beans, I decided that I’d rather just use a bag of dry black beans. I soaked them overnight, and then cooked them in a slow cooker during the day before I wanted to make the soup. When it was time, I measured the beans into a 2-cup measuring cup, filling it just above the 1 3/4 mark with beans, and adding liquid up to that line – that’s the equivalent of one 15oz can of beans. This used the entire 2-pound bag of beans that I had, and all of the cooking liquid.

Black Bean Soup

I enjoyed this soup a lot. I’m glad I used a medium salsa because it made it spicy.  It was hearty and filling, and felt healthy. I crumbled some tortilla chips on it, and I would have topped it with cilantro if I’d had some. I think that it would have been excellent with the addition of a chipotle chile as well – a hint of smokiness is all I missed in it. Alex also really enjoyed it, even though it was vegetarian. Alex ate most of the leftovers. One day he poured the soup over tortilla chips and added cheddar cheese – it was a little like nachos or black bean dip. Another day, he did that and added leftover carnitas to it as well.

This was a great soup, and was easy to make. I’ll definitely try it again.

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