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 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. 



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Black Bean Soup


This Brazilian inspired Black bean soup is all at once homey and magnificent in it’s simplicity. Perfect on it’s own as a light meal, but also great as a side for a big Chipotle Chicken Taco Salad, or paired with a grilled cheese sandwich. We particularly love it with a pepper jack panini.


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.


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.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup, no toppings
  • Calories: 125
  • Fat: 2g
  • Fiber: 8g



  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. Oh Sara. . .
    I LOVED. LOVED. LOVED. your description.

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

  7. 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

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