Black Bean Soup

Every time I make this Black Bean 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 lovely 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).

Ingredient and Equipment Notes

  • Green chilies – You can find fire roasted green chilies on the ethnic food aisle near things like enchilada sauce and taco ingredients. You want the diced ones. Double check the heat scale– I use mild, but if you like some spice, you could get the hotter ones.
  • Onion – Yellow or white onions work best, but you can use any onion in a pinch.
  • Toppings – We love this soup with sour cream, tortilla chips, grated cheese, chopped cilantro, avocado, etc.
  • Spices – You’ll need chili powder, cumin, oregano, and a bay leaf.
  • Blender – I blend this soup up in my blender. An immersion blender is another option.

Instructions

  1. Start by sauteing some carrots, onion, celery, and garlic for a few minutes. Pretty much the standard “soup starters.”
  2. Then add in some drained and rinsed black beans.
  1. And then add some beef broth, green chilies, and your spices.
  1. All of that simmers on the stove until the the carrots are nice and tender.
  2. Remove the pot from the stove, remove the bay leaf, and carefully transfer the hot soup to a blender jar. Remove the stopper from your blender lid to let the heat escape, and cover with a paper towel to prevent splatter. Puree the soup until it’s completely smooth. Optionally, you could pulse it until a semi-chunky soup is achieved.
  3. Squeeze in the juice of one lime and pulse to combine. Ladle into bows and top with desired toppings. Serve with extra lime wedges.

Serving Suggestions

This black bean soup is the perfect served alongside a pepper Jack panini. It would be delicious with a quesadilla or other Brazilian favorites like grilled meat with Brazilian Vinaigrette and a cold Brazilian Lemonade.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I make this ahead of time? Of course! Allow the finished soup to cool completely and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat small portions in the microwave, or reheat the whole batch on the stovetop.
  • Can I freeze this black bean soup? Yes! Soup in general makes a great freezer meal and this one is no different. For easy reheating, freeze individual soup pucks in silicone muffin trays or my favorite Souper Cubes, then store in a zip top bag in a freezer. Pull out as many as you need for a serving and heat in the microwave or on the stove top.

Did You Make This?

I’d love to hear from you! Snap a picture and tag me on Instagram, then come back and give this recipe a rating!

Black Bean Soup

5 from 1 vote
This Brazilian inspired Black bean soup is all at once homey and magnificent in its simplicity. Perfect on it's own as a light meal, but also great as a side for a big salad or paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. We particularly love it with a pepper jack panini.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced carrots about 2 med carrots
  • 3/4 cup diced celery about 2 ribs
  • 1 cup diced onion about 1 small-medium onion
  • 2 cans black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 3.5- ounce can green chilies
  • 2 cans low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lime
  • Optional Toppings: sour cream tortilla chips, grated cheese, chopped cilantro, etc.

Instructions

  • Place a large stock pot on the stove-top and set to medium-high heat.  When pan is warm, add olive oil.  Add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and sauté 4-5 minutes.
  • Add in the black beans, chilies, and beef broth. Stir to combine and then add the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and bay leaf.
  • Simmer uncovered for about 20-25 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  • Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf from soup.
  • Place soup in a blender. (You could use an immersion blender in place of this step.) Place lid on blender, but remove the stopper in the lid to let heat escape. Place a paper towel over the hole to avoid splatters.
  • Puree soup until completely smooth.  Optionally you could pulse until a semi-chunky soup is achieved. Squeeze in the juice from one lime and pulse to combine.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with desired toppings. Serve with extra lime wedges.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup, no toppings, Calories: 125kcal, Fat: 2g, Fiber: 8g
Calories: 125kcal
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. I wouldn’t want to clean up a black-bean soup bomb 🙂 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”

    1. This is a family favorite! We’ve made it for years & even our picky eaters love it! I made this soup today & when I went to grab an onion from the pantry…I didn’t have any! ? With the rest of the ingredients already cut up & a hungry family waiting, I just quickly doubled the carrots & celery to make up for the missing onion & it turned out just fine! ?I definitely think using the onion is ideal, but in a pinch fake it with the other mirepoix ingredients!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. Oh Sara. . .
    I LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. your description.

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

  13. 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! 🙂 ~Jenn

    1. You remove the stopper to let the steam out and cover with a paper towel to help with splatters.

  14. Awww… flashbacks… I miss Brasil 🙁 Luckily I don’t have to miss the black bean soup much longer- YUM!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

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

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

  20. 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…

  21. I always read everyone’s long post, I write them myself as well 🙂

    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!

  22. 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!

  23. this looks absolutely delicious! I’m going to make it this week. I love a good bean soup.