Black Bean Soup

These have been hard times, these last few weeks. Writing up a recipe has seemed so trivial, when others are crying out. There is a heaviness that seems heavier than COVID-19 ever did. Minneapolis and the tragic death of George Floyd brought injustice into sharp relief. Things are not going to be the same again, but they shouldn’t be. There seems to be progress happening. One can only hope that America gets it right this time.

Life carries on, and we still eat. Comfort food sounds appealing now, and something easy to prepare sounds good, too. This simple black bean soup is satisfying, and true to Mexican seasoning. Curiously, we never see bean soup on menus here. Beef vegetable soup, chicken vegetable soup, and tortilla soup, but not bean soup, even though Diana Kennedy includes a few in her books. This recipe can be made with any bean you have. Here in our part of Mexico, black beans, creamy peruano, and azafran beans are common. But you could use white beans, pinto beans, even kidney beans.

I’m not on the recent sourdough bandwagon, but I have been making a whole wheat version of Jim Leahey’s no-knead bread, a good soup accompaniment. Its overnight rise gives depth to the flavor.

Black Bean Soup

  • 2 cups/450 grams/1 lb. dry black beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dry Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons sauce from canned chipotle chile en adobo
  1. For a quick soak of dry beans, cover beans with water in sauce pan, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and boil for one minutes. Cover and let sit for 1 hour.
  2. Drain, cover with fresh water, add onion, garlic, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and 2 teaspoons salt, and cook until tender, checking to maintain water level.
  3. When beans are tender, puree with immersion blender or standard blender until roughly smooth, not pureed. Add more water if needed to thin to soup consistency.
  4. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro and crema, Mexican sour cream.


~ If cooking dry beans seems daunting, use 4 15-oz. cans of cooked beans.

~ After years of cooking beans in an olla de barro, a clay bean pot, I switched to a pressure cooker. Using a clay pot is muy mexicana, but takes so much longer. The bean pots are now used to hold kitchen utensils.

~ Chipotle chiles are large, dried smoked jalapeños. They are commonly canned in adobo, a sauce of onion, vinegar and tomato.


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