Black Bean Soup

Photographing dinner is hard for me.  It is almost always dark, and so I almost always have to use flash or deal with the yellow lights in my kitchen.  Pictures of our dinners never look quite right.  That is my excuse for this not so great picture of the black bean soup I made with my mother-in-law.

This recipe is from Lick my Spoon who adapted it from Bon Appetit.  Looking at the Bon Appetit recipe, I think I would have chosen to use the chipotle chiles.  We did not make the cilantro lime yogurt.  Instead I topped the soup with sour cream, cheese, chopped cilantro and a lime wedge.

Canned beans are what I usually find myself using in recipes.  I’d never used dried beans before.  It always seemed too time consuming and daunting.  This recipe called for a bag of dry beans that require soaking and a long cooking time.  My mother-in-law assured me it wasn’t all that bad…and it wasn’t!  The beans had more texture and so the soup tasted much more substantial.  If you’re short on time, canned beans would be a fine short cut.  But if, like me, you’ve always been scared of dried beans I encourage you to face your fears and go for it.

This soup, while not the most attractive one, is quite good.  Paired with a green salad, this makes for a lovely light dinner.  Enjoy!

Black Bean Soup


  • 1 pound dried black beans (approximately 2 cups)
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium-size red onions, chopped
  • 1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (add more if you want it spicy)
  • Juice of 1 lime (reserve 1 tablespoon for yogurt topping)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Soak beans in water overnight. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until the oil is hot, but not smoking. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, and salt; stir a few more minutes.
  3. Add 6 cups water, beans, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and let cook for about 1 hour 30 minutes, until beans are tender.
  4. Transfer 4 cups of the soup (about half of it) to a blender. Purée until smooth and return to the pot of soup. (You may need to purée the soup in smaller batches — don’t fill the blender more than half way at a time and hold the lid while blending so that it doesn’t splatter up and burn you.) Stir in lime juice, and salt & pepper to taste.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls and top with your choice of sour cream, cilantro, cheese, chips, etc.