The fall harvest and crisp temperatures make autumn the perfect time to stir up large, comforting pots of soup. It’s also a crucial time to boost your immune system with school back in session, gatherings moving indoors, and fewer hours of sunlight. Soups like this vegetarian black bean are a great source of nourishment because not only is it packed with veggies, the black beans are a great source of protein and fiber so it’s a complete one-pot meal.
If you follow a vegan lifestyle, this recipe should work well for you, just skip the garnish options that contain dairy. Many black bean soup recipes contain bacon, but I’ve added a smoky flavor by using a good amount of smoked paprika. If you don’t have it on hand, regular paprika will do, but I find I use mine in a lot of recipes so it might be worth it to you to stock up.
Remember that the salt/sodium content can be very different depending on the vegetable stock you use and if you use canned black beans instead of cooked dried beans. Adjust the salt you add accordingly, and never be afraid to taste your food to make sure it’s seasoned properly.
I cooked my black beans in my Instant Pot this time, though, admittedly, I most often reach for convenient cans. It was very simple and far less time-consuming than the long soaking and traditional cooking process. Here is the link to the Instant Pot cooking guide https://instantpot.com/instantpot-cooking-time/#tab-id-3. You might want to give it a shot considering that you will pay less than half the price for dried beans vs canned and they take up less space in your pantry.
Vegetarian Black Bean Soup
(makes about 6 servings/48 ounces)
1 tablespoon cooking oil (something neutral-flavored)
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow or white onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1 cup chopped celery (about 4 ribs)
1 cup finely chopped carrots (2 – 3 carrots)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped bell pepper, any color (about 2 peppers)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro flakes
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 ounces canned green chiles
1 teaspoon grated or finely chopped garlic
1 bay leaf
4 cups cooked or canned black beans (if using canned, about three 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1-quart vegetable broth (chicken broth/stock works as well)
salt and black pepper
fresh cilantro or oregano
Place oil, chopped onion, celery, carrots, and salt in a large saucepan, stock pot, or Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
Remove the stem, seeds, and ribs from the bell peppers, chop finely, and add them to the pot.
Stir in the green chiles, garlic, and bay leaf.
Add the black beans, lime juice, and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and allow the soup to cook for another 15 – 20 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup, or place half of the soup in a high-speed blender, blend until smooth, then add it back to the pot. Taste the soup and add more salt, black pepper, and/or cayenne pepper to your taste.
Note: It’s up to you how smooth you want to make it; I like to keep some texture and find the immersion blender works well for me. You could also blend the entire soup in the high-speed blender (in batches) or not blend it at all if you want a chunkier texture. Keep in mind it will thicken as it cooks.
Allow the soup to simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens, about 30 – 40 minutes. Taste it to check the texture, and blend it more if you want.
Serve hot and garnish with your favorite toppings. I like Greek yogurt, cilantro, and avocado, but sour cream, grated cheese, hot sauce, and tortilla chips are some other great accompaniments.
A Little Personal Update
It’s been eight months and fourteen days since I lost my husband, Bob. People wonder how I’m doing, and the truth is, some days, I’m great. Usually, those are days spent with my girls or good friends that include lots of distraction and laughter, or days I feel proud and accomplished in my work. They are a welcome gift I receive with gratitude.
On other days, I’m filled with intense sadness, disbelief, and loneliness. I feel stuck and unable to imagine the future. I don’t say that to invoke sympathy but to be honest and transparent about my grief. Grief is a scary subject, and we need to talk about it more.
Most days are a combination of great and terrible. I laugh and cry a lot. Sometimes at the same time.
I understand that all of the above are valuable emotions. My pain and fears are valid, and my pursuit of peace and happiness is essential. I am not numbing myself to avoid discomfort (it will surface anyway), and I am not withholding joy as some sort of misplaced duty to his memory. He would hate that.
So, that’s how I’m doing; terrible and great. I love the following quote. Usually, I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking for the right one, but this jumped out right away. It’s from the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, and it’s exactly what I want to say today.
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”