Black Bean Soup

Every time I make this soup I think of this clip from Ratatouille. And it’s not because of any filthy vermin sticking their nasty paws into my soup (was anyone else grossed out by that?) It’s because of Anton Ego’s childhood flashback. I love the way his eyes get huge as it zooms him back to his boyhood home. My flashback isn’t to my childhood (if it was then this would be a post about some sort of heart-warming casserole involving cream of something soup). Instead, it takes me to this place:
That’s a quaint little house in the middle of a palm-covered oasis in Maceo, Brazil. It’s the kind of place where you play pick-up soccer games barefoot in the middle of a palm clearing, and half of the members of your team have more than 2 legs.

And the kind of place where you can ride a horse into a lagoon and catch a guy in a canoe half way out who gives you a fish for dinner.

It’s where some dear friends of ours live, and several years ago after a long day we sat around a creaky old table late one summer night while the cute little housekeeper made us a big pot of black bean soup. It was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, probably in part because it represented so many memories and experiences for me. I was in a place and with people I had grown up hearing stories about, and I was with my Father who had told me those stories when I was a child. The whole thing was just surreal. I had just finished spending a year and a half in Brazil by myself and at that point I finally understood why it was such an important place to my Dad. We suddenly shared a bond centered on a culture, a language, and a people that we adored. Somehow that soul-warming soup represented all of those emotions so I’ve tried to replicate it ever since. I made countless versions over the years, tweaking and tweaking and starting all over. One day when I didn’t have anything fancy to throw in it, I made it with the most basic ingredients, and even though I know this is probably not anything like the one the housekeeper made from the vegetables in the garden and fresh, local peppers and spices, it’s the only one where when I took a bite, my eyes got wide and my mind zoomed back to that summer night. That’s when I knew that this was the one. Something about it brought all of the memories back, and because of that it’s on my list of big-time comfort foods. And because it takes minimal ingredients, and ones I almost always have on hand, it’s also a regular on our menu.

The great thing is that it’s super low-calorie, and high in fiber, so you can totally afford to throw some toppings on there (which they totally wouldn’t do in Brazil, just for the record. Tortilla chips? Blasphemous! But I am American and I know no one will hunt me down. It’s way better with toppings.)It’s also a great side for a big southwest salad, or paired with a grilled sandwich (we love it with pepper jack panini).And don’t forget the Brazilian Lemonade!

Alright, enough story telling- onto soup!

Start by sauteing some carrots, onion, celery, and garlic.  Pretty much the standard “soup starters”.

 Add in black beans

And then some green chilies, beef broth, and a bunch of spices. 
Simmer for 20-25 minutes and then puree until smooth.  Add the juice from one juicy lime and then top with stuff like cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, tortilla chips, etc. 





Nutritional Information (1 C soup, w/o toppings):
125 calories, 2g fat, 8g fiber
2 Weight Watchers points
South Beach Diet Phase 2 (eat carrots sparingly)


  1. Hey I read the whole thing! I’d like to associate that memory with this soup too, maybe we’ll need to make Maceo part of my memory too:)
    Excellent stuff soup though, love this stuff!

  2. I always read everyone’s long post, I write them myself as well πŸ™‚

    This sounds like you got close to the memory…I have made this before in my cafe and it is a nice bowl of goodness!

  3. I had the same issues with the movie! I saw it once, it’s cute, but I can’t see it again. All the rats in the kitchen just grossed me out.
    I can’t wait to try this soup. My husband lived in Brazil for two years, mabye it will bring some memories back for him…

  4. I loved your story. For some reason it gave me chills. Food with memories are the best. Can’t wait to try some.

  5. Thank you for another YUMMY addition to my recipe reptoire! We LOVE black bean soup. We will be eating this very soon!

  6. I’ll be making this one for dinner tonight…. I don’t have any beef broth though, do you think it will be OK, or should I wait until I can get to the store and pick some up?

  7. Amber- I don’t know, I always make it with beef broth. You could try substituting chicken or vegetable broth though and see how it is.

  8. I made this soup for dinner tonight!! YUM, YUM!! I didn’t have a bay leaf or a lime, but I can’t imagine it being any better. But next time I’ll go by the recipe and see. Thank you for a WW friendly recipe that I’ll use over and over.

  9. Awww… flashbacks… I miss Brasil πŸ™ Luckily I don’t have to miss the black bean soup much longer- YUM!

  10. Okay, stupid question: Why are we removing the stopper in the middle of our blender lid only to cover it with a papertowel? I reread the directions over and over to see if I missed something but clearly I’m not getting it! πŸ™‚ ~Jenn

  11. Oh Sara. . .
    I LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. your description.

    I’m craving this soup already – and a vacation to the jungle.

  12. I can’t WAIT to try this! I bought everything for it yesterday (except I got dried beans in my on-going effort towards martyrdom AND to be more frugal…no, really, I’m just trying to not be scared of dried beans so I can feel comfortable using them for food storage. But I digress).

    ANYWAY. I’m super excited–it sounds so good.

  13. Jenn- not a stupid question! You’re taking off the blender stopper so the steam can get out, and putting a paper towel over it while it’s on to avoid the splatter. Have you ever put hot soup in a tupperware and then put the lid on it? The steam starts filling up in there and when you open it, it wants to explode. Same concept with the blender- the steam needs somewhere to go or it will make a little soup bomb in there!

  14. I wouldn’t want to clean up a black-bean soup bomb πŸ™‚ You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had black bean soup, but it sounds great!

    Do you think I could get away with leaving the onion out? My nursing baby says “Momma can’t eat chocolate or onions”

  15. Hey, I made this last night and it was soooo good! My kids actually ate a bowl of brown stuff because they loved dipping the chips in it! Also, we are going gluten free here so I am loving any recipes that go with that. Thanks!

  16. Steph- would onion powder still upset the baby? Or granulated onion? That might be an option if you could sneak it in, because I think it definitely needs onion!

  17. I made this and my family loved it. I took my Kitchen Aid hand blender and put it straight in the pot to whiz up the soup, so I didn’t have to transfer large quantities of hot soup back and forth, it worked wonderfully. Next time I would leave it a tad more chunky and less pureed. I served it with a scoop of cooked white rice on top. The kids and all of us loved it!

  18. LOVED this soup. My family INHALED it. My kids (6,3,2) asked for seconds. Two thumbs up for sure! And like someone mentioned, I wanted a chunkier soup, so I only pureed half of it. It was fabulous. Gotta love it when your husband (and mother in law) rave about something you made for dinner. lol Thanks Sara!

  19. This was so so good! I did make it with chicken broth, since I’m not a beef lover, and it was delicious. Thanks! It tasted like the inside of a really yummy burrito.

  20. I know I'm a little late to the game in asking a question, but this recipe sounds so yummy I want to make it for dinner. But I only have regular beef broth, not low sodium. Will it be too salty with regular?

    Love your blog! I recently found it and I've become obsessed with all the yumminess.

  21. Regular beef broth is just fine. I use low-sodium mostly for health reasons. You can cut back on the 1 t salt called for in the recipe and just add to taste if you want but I don't think the low-sodium really affects the saltiness to be honest.

  22. I tried it with homemade vegetable broth. I think it was too vegetable-y. And kinda orange/green in color.

    I'd suggest maybe cut the quantity of raw carrots/celery/onion if you're using vegetable broth. Or increase black beans and green chilies.

    Served it with sweet corn cake. MMMM…..

    1. Just had to tell you how much we LOVE this soup. We make it a lot. I could eat soup every day when it is cold and this is one of my all-time favorite soups. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  23. Oh my gosh! Thank you such much for this recipe. My husband and I loved it.
    I've always been a fan of Panera's black bean soup, however, my husband could take or leave it. However, he thought this was awesome, and I liked it more too.
    It has a great kick to it. I only blended half since I like my soup a little chunky.

  24. Along with Manda, I also made it with chicken broth, but only because I had chicken base- I had beef bouillon cubes- but after tasting base, I just can't go back. I also did not have green chiles, so I just chopped up a jalapeno pepper (without seeds) and it was absolutely delicious! I love it! Next time, I am going to use less broth and use it as a filling for smothered burritos. Yum! Thanks so much!

  25. Are you kidding me with this soup?! It is so delicious! My 21 mo. old son who has to be the world's pickiest eater ate 1/2 a bowl. So, thank you for the recipe. Now he can eat something with fiber and protein and not live on applesauce, yogurt and Life cereal. =)

  26. This was yummy, but it was too salty. I would eliminate the extra salt as adding broth gives it plenty of salt. A yummy experiment, but I will stick with my black bean soup from allrecipes.

  27. I just made this soup and sent the link to everyone i know! SO GOOD! I just loved it! MmmMMm. Thank you so much for the recipe- i will probably make this one weekly- well as of now! haha.

  28. Has anyone tried this using dried beans? And want to walk me through it? I am trying to be all food storage-y and stuff but I'm kind of clueless.

  29. First I would like to say that I like the way you write the ingredients. So many times a recipe will say one medium onion. Whose to say what a medium onion really is. So saying that plus the amount is tops for me.

    Did I miss though how much this recipe makes? Enough for 4 etc or how many cups or qts it makes.
    Can't wait to try this. Would this freeze well?

  30. Sunny- that's a pet peeve of mine too! I try to always include how many cups, but know that if we don't then that just means that it's not really important and it's okay to have a little more or a little less of something.

    And that's weird that I didn't include how much the soup makes because I always measure when I make up soups. You'll probably get 6-8 C though. For whatever reason my soups almost always make that much!

  31. nonitucker- she was 14 (not unusual there) and about 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. So yes, "cute little housekeeper" indeed!

  32. Just had this for dinner! It was FINE! I served it over a bed of short grain brown rice and topped it off with avacado, a bit of sour cream and the juice of a lime! I used dried beans with the quick cook method of preparation.

  33. Since I have dry black beans in my food storage and no clue how to use them, I'd be so grateful for some directions on how to make this yummy soup (and also your Quick and Easy Black Beans recipe which I love) using dry beans instead of canned.

  34. I love black bean soup and this is my new favorite of the many recipes I've tried so far. Between my husband and I, we finished all but about a cup of it, though, so it's a good thing my boys had other plans for dinner. Next time I'll be sure to double it. Thanks for a great recipe.

  35. I made this tonight and it was amazing! My children are the two worst eaters ever and even they loved it! My husband started thinking about all the yummy things he could use this soup for while he ate it!

  36. This is divine! Oh my gosh. Thank you! A dollop of sour cream on top really did the trick. Have you ever tried freezing it? My husband and I would have to eat this three meals a day to eat it up in time. πŸ™‚ Although maybe that isn't such a bad idea . . .

  37. My husband served his mission in Brazil and has been searching for a great bean soup recipe. I stumbled across your blog and tried out your soup. We loved it! He said it was perfect. I also love all of your other recipes! Thanks for sharing.

    Kelli in West Virginia

  38. I tried this recipe last Friday and man oh man. It was delicious! I didn't change anything to it and it came out perfect. I used sour cream and lime flavored Tostito chips on the side, which my husband loved. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  39. Just made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! Even my picky 2 year old ate a whole bowl! I add thick pieces of ham to mine and love it! Your girls are the best! I love everything ya'll make!

  40. ok, this soup is SO good!! at the beginning i wasn't so sure…but once you blend it together, WOW! so yummy! we just put a little cheese and cilantro on top and it was perfect. (spicier than i expected!)

    this is the second thing i have made from your blog (the first was baked sweet potato fries…YUM!!) and i have loved both. will definitely keep reading and trying recipes!

  41. So, I made this for dinner yesterday, and when my husband found out what I was making he sort of grumped around…I don't like beans in soup and I don't like black beans, etc…he ate 3 bowls and told me I could make it again. Totally a winner!

  42. I spent a year and a half in the nordeste too and Maceio is soooo beautiful. I can hardly wait to try this taste of my beloved Brasil. Thanks for sharing.

  43. Just made this soup tonight. We LOVED it! Even my picky kiddos. I'm going to share it with my mom and sisters, and I'm definitely buying your cookbook when it comes out!

  44. Excellent soup! Thank you for the recipe. Two cans of black beans contains about 3 cups of beans. I started from dry beans (cheaper) and had to figure this out!

  45. Making it tonight but would like some advice on how to do it with dried black beans. I love your recipes. Thank you soooo much!!

  46. I made this for dinner last night, it was fabulous. Way more flavor than other black bean soups I've tried. I doubled the recipe. I usually like my soup chunky but for this I decided it was better processed very smooth. I didn't like getting chunks of carrot and celery in my mouth. The dallop of sour cream (i used light) is a must. I also added in queso fresco (a crumbly mexican cheese), a squeeze of lime (also a must) and tortilla chips. Fabulous!

  47. Have you ever used dehydrated beans for this soup? or just the canned beans? I have a ton of black beans in my food storage and I can never get them right. If you have tips that would be great. Thanks for your yummy recipes

  48. Christen- you could use dry beans for this recipe, they just need to be fully cooked before adding so they're at the same point as a canned bean.

  49. I thought I was going to have left overs when I made this for my small family. Next time I will have to double it. Loved It!!!!!!

  50. Another hit! Made this for dinner last night & it was so yummy! There was a local independent restaurant that made the best black bean soup & they sadly went out of business. This is a great substitue & so easy to make! I bought an immersion blender just for this recipe (that's a whole 'nother story!). Soup was yummy! Thank you for another hit!

  51. I consider myself somewhat of a soup connoisseur, and this was one of the best that I've ever had! Really great recipe…keep up the good work!!

  52. Just made this tonight for the first time…LOVED it!! My 13-month-old scarfed it down in minutes! We served it with homemade tortilla chips (your recipe for cinnamon chips, only with salt). Perfect!!

  53. I'm really excited to make this soup. It sounds delicious! Just an FYI, the soup is now 3 WW points on the new PointsPlus system. I'm excited to add this to my lunch repertoire!

  54. This was yummy. Just an idea, maybe you should include the lime in the ingredient list. I read where you said to add the juice, and i fully intended to add it but I forgot! I didn't have a bay leaf and I used italian seasoning instead of just oregano and it was so good. I also added 4 oz of tomatoes and green chilis.

  55. This was terrific! We pureed half the soup instead of the whole batch for a heartier texture, and it was fabulous. Thanks for a great dinner!

  56. I'm wondering how I could make this vegetarian? Could I use a vegetable broth? I would love to make this, but I have a guest staying with us who is vegetarian. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  57. Melissa, you could use vegetable stock. I don't think the flavor would be quite as good, but I know others have done it.

    1. I loved the story behind the recipe. I have also been to Brazil and my daughter is half Brazilian. I hope that she will get to experience the beauty, the people and the incredible simple foods. I am excited to try this recipe.

  58. Sara, my brother served in Curitiba Brazil and recently returned. I invited him over for dinner and made this black bean soup! He almost cried, he LOVED it so much!!

  59. I have leftover black beans from a salad I made last week so I thought of using them in this soup recipe. It reminds me of the last time I made this recipe–my husband came into the kitchen just as I was pouring the soup out of the blender. He got a funny look on his face and asked me what I’d made. He didn’t like the looks of my black bean “milkshake”! Sure tasted good, though.

  60. I made this for dinner last night and we loved it!! πŸ™‚ It is definitely a keeper in our house, thanks! πŸ™‚

  61. We tried this today for the first time. We didn’t have the green chili’s, so we just left them out. It was really good. Solid Sunday dinner for us.

  62. I went on my mission to Recife in 95-96. Teared up a bit at this description. Many memories of soccer games in palm tree clearings. Special world down there πŸ™‚ Trying this recipe tonight.

  63. I went to a baby shower last night and they served dinner. They made soup, the creamy chicken taquitos and a few others things. I asked for recipes and they said, “Everything is from our best bites!” I’m still salivating over the delicious food!! So glad you served in Brazil and are sharing your talent with us! Thanks!!

  64. Just made this, Fantastic! A great “What the heck am I making for lunch?!” meal, since I had all the ingredients on hand.

  65. This blog is making me soooo hungry. I’m really excited to try this, but my fiance has an allergy to onions- do you think removing that ingredient will have a large impact?

  66. He can have onion powder, its just raw or cooked onions that seem to doe it- how much onion powder would you suggest? Thanks for responding so quickly!

    1. In that case, I would suggest dehydrated onion (which you buy just by the regular spices) but onion powder would work okay too. You might look on the bottle and see if it gives you an equivalent, otherwise you might just do a teaspoon or so of powder or a couple tablespoons of dehydrated.

  67. Yummy! I made this soup for lunch today. It took no time at all — and I’m a super slow cook. It was delicious, and I’m so glad I have plenty of leftovers for later.

  68. SOOOO GOOD!! We’ve decided to try a more whole foods, plant based diet in my family. and this fit perfect. My husband is a major meat eater so he was a little skeptical at first. but he totally LOVED this! Even my little girl was eating it! I also added some spinach at the blender part.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  69. I loved this soup! I used regular beef broth and I didn’t have a lime. I really liked the creamy texture. There was a weird sort of aftertaste and I’m not sure what that was. Maybe it was the type of broth I used or the brand of bay leaves I have? Not sure.

    So just so you know… I have started cooking a lot more ever since I found this website! I love how the ingredients aren’t obscure and that there are step by step directions as well as pictures!

  70. Kind of reminds of soup we had at La Hacienda De San Angel at EPCOT (minus the cactus leaves). Delicious! Made it for a girl’s recipe swap dinner and can’t wait to share it. Thanks!

  71. never mind about the freezing comment…found my answer in the above comments
    we LOVE this soup. my 18 mo old eats just as much husband and I do when I make this. Also, after making it several times according to the directions, I decided to try it in the crock pot. I just throw everything in the crock pot (I skip sauteing the veggies) until the veggies are tender (about three hours on high) and then blend it.

  72. This looks amazing! My husband served a mission in Brazil and I can’t wait to make it for him. I love that you posted the weight watchers points also!! So helpful!

  73. I’m just about to make this for lunch and realize I don’t have a lime! I guess I need to pay closer attention to my shopping list! Ugh! Do you think I could use lemon juice or would that totally ruin it?

    1. Okay, I just made this soup with a small lemon instead of a lime. Oh. my. goondess. This soup is so delicious! Once again, thank you so much!

  74. I finally made this for the first time and what a hit! I’d avoided it (even though I thought it looked so good!) just cuz I figured I’d be the only one that liked it. And even though it took 20 minutes and 45 minutes respectively to get my 4 year old and 3 year old to try a bite, once they actually tasted it they loved it! And my husband and the baby loved it too. Total winner! I will for sure be making this again and again!

  75. All I can say is WOW. I have never had black bean soup, assuming it would taste like beans made to soup. I love beans, but didn’t sound appetizing. Holy cow, I have been missing out! This will for sure be a regular this season. Thank you! You guys are awesome

  76. Yummy yummy!! Never had black bean soup before, this is so yummy! I’ve had your cook book since it came out and FINALLY tried it today since I got my wisdom teeth pulled and needed something easy to eat that was healthy. Thanks so much!! We all loved it!

  77. Made this last night using dried beans (I boiled them for a few minutes then let them sit for a few hours before adding to the recipe). It was fantastic! I love it when I can make food that taste as good or better than restaurant food in my own kitchen!

  78. This is quite possibly one of the best soups I have ever made. Served it with baked quesadillas and sour cream, to die for. This is going into heavy rotation at my house.

  79. I’m from Brasil and even though this recipe looks really delicious, this isn’t how we make our beans in Brasil. But at least you did mention that we do not put toppings on our beans. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I’m always happy to see someone share something about my beautiful country.

  80. Instead of blending hot soup, we blend some of the beans and broth ahead of time. We don’t blend all of the ingredients because we like our BB soup chunky.

  81. I made this a few months ago & think I will be making it again soon! At the time, I thought it sounded kind of gross(ish) but my husband loves beans. Tried it, loved it, ate seconds and thirds.. thanks for such a great healthy recipe πŸ™‚

  82. Hey, Sara! Love your recipes, and the stories that come with them! Black bean soup cooking right now, preliminary tastes are great! πŸ™‚ I wonder if you’d consider adding the lime juice to the ingredient list? I went to the store for chillis, but didn’t realize I needed a lime at the end. πŸ™ I’ll bet we’ll still be able to choke it down, right? Teehee! We’ll have lime juice in the leftovers, if there are any. Thanks!

    1. Sorry about that- I hate it when that happens! Didn’t realize it wasn’t on there, I just added it!

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