Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hearty Vegan Black Bean Soup

Hearty Vegan Black Bean Soup

To warm you this winter, ladle out a piping hot, spicy bowl of black bean soup. It features a combo of black beans and colorful veggies that are nutrient rich, appealing, and comfort cravings for a filling, delicious meal.


1 lb. dried organic black beans
10 cups cold water
1 large organic yellow onion chopped
5 cloves organic garlic grated
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon chili powder or more to taste
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro and a handful of fresh chopped parsley
½ jalapeño pepper (wear gloves to seed and chop)
1 can 15 oz. chopped organic tomatoes (get ones that are packaged in a BPA free can) or use 3 fresh chopped organic tomatoes, when in season
4 organic carrots chopped
4 stalks organic celery chopped
½ cup organic cremini or baby bella mushrooms sliced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

What to do:

1. Pick over and rinse black beans to remove extraneous matter. Soak black beans for at least 6-8 hours. Spill out soaking water, and rinse well. The US Dry Bean Council provides several methods for soaking beans. See which one you like best.

Note: I offer you the choice of using dried black beans or canned ones. Consider this. Dried beans are more economical and taste better than canned ones, because the flavoring melds into them as the beans simmer on the stove. Here in Tucson, a 1 lb. bag of organic black beans costs approximately $ 2.99 lb. One 15 oz. can of organic beans cost $1.30. Dried beans get hydrated as they cook (expand) and equal 4 cans of black beans at a cost of approximately $5.20. Some canned products are still packed in cans that contain BPA or are highly salted.

On the plus side, canned beans are fully cooked and cut down on prep time. If you’re using canned beans, follow prep directions for onion and garlic in step 2. At step 3, pour out the liquid from the cans of beans and rinse. Add them to the veggies and 10 cups of water and continue on from there.

2. Chop onion and grate garlic. Much experimentation on my part has deemed it the best way to make garlic taste bold, yet not overpower or mask the other ingredients. 

Put onion and garlic into a large ceramic, cast iron, or heavy weight stainless steel pot or Dutch oven on the stove top. Without using any oil, brown onion and garlic for about 2 minutes on medium heat. If any sticks, use a drop or 2 of water. Cook 3 or 4 minutes more, until the onion and garlic are soft and browned. It may surprise you to learn this is an easy way to brown ingredients without oil. It gives the soup a lively flavor, rich color, and adds a delightful aroma to the soup as it cooks. Add soaked dried beans to the pot and pour in 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Add bay leaf, salt, chili powder, and chopped jalapeño. Cook covered on medium heat for 45 minutes or until black beans start to get soft. Watch pot every few minutes and lower temperature slightly, if you sense soup is ready to boil over. Cooking times vary depending on how fresh beans are, what soaking method you use, and the actual temperature of your stove.

3. Add chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms, and canned or fresh (chopped) tomatoes to the mix and cook for 20 minutes. Unlike some vegetables and fruits that are best eaten raw, tomatoes need to be cooked (ideally for ½ hour) to release the most phytonutrients/health benefits.

Baby Bellas Add a Hearty Dimension to the Soup 

4. Include as many optional veggies as you’d like to include now (zucchini, cabbage, butternut squash, kale, red pepper, and peas are my suggestions) to increase thickness, depth of flavor, and nutrition. Cook 10 minutes longer to release the full power of the tomatoes and heat optional veggies. Before removing pot from the stove, check beans and vegetables to see that they are soft enough to stick a fork in them, but not fall apart completely. Remove bay leaf, grind on black pepper, and sprinkle on chopped cilantro and parsley before serving.

Note: I use organic items whenever possible, because organic produce tastes better, is healthier for you, and doesn't pollute the planet.

Serve the soup in cups or bowls, accompanied by a salad and whole grain bread like I did. Another way to serve it is with cooked brown rice, corn chips, salsa, and guacamole.

Guacamole and Organic Corn Chips Go Well with Black Bean Soup

Feel good about making this hearty soup for yourself, family, or friends. A 1 cup portion of black beans is a good source of Thiamine, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, and Manganese without cholesterol or fat. Black beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein. One cup provides 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein. Their hearty taste and high nutritional value makes them satisfying, economical and a smart food choice. My recipe is delicious and spicy, without being dangerously hot. If you’d like to turn up the heat, add one or more of these: salsa, cayenne pepper, shake of Tabasco or other hot sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, or more cilantro and garlic.

The quote for today appeared on Brainy Quotes and it follows: "Only the pure in heart can make a good soup." Ludwig van Beethoven

I'm curious to know other ways you use black beans. I welcome comments, questions, and hope you'll share your ideas or tips about this nutritious legume. Sharing is caring. 

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Thanks for Visiting

Hope you enjoyed your visit and will return again. Be well. Live well. Lead a colorful life! Warm regards, Nan