I’m pretty smitten with black bean soup – all kinds. And so when I came across Smitten Kitchen’s black bean soup made with dry beans in the slow cooker, I had to give it a spin. There are plenty of people who aren’t aware that you can cook dry beans this way – just tossed into the slow cooker with plenty of liquid – without presoaking them. This black bean soup is infinitely versatile – try adding a ham hock, a big can of tomatoes with their juices, or using some stock along with the water for added flavor. You can’t get much easier, more inexpensive, or better for you.
Like chili, black bean soup improves after a day or two in the fridge – I like to make a big batch (which this is) on the weekend and have a stash to dip into all week. For a more substantial meal, serve your soup over a scoop of cooked rice or quinoa.
Vegan Black Bean Soup
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 large purple onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 16 oz package dried black beans (or 2 cups)
1 Tbsp. chipotle chiles en adobo (optional – it gives a nice smoky taste, but you could sub chili powder)
7 cups hot water
juice of a lime
1-2 tsp. coarse sea salt (it seems like a lot, but it needs it)
sour cream/yogurt (or vegan sour cream/yogurt) for serving, if you like
Heat a drizzle of oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery and pepper and sauté until soft and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and cook for another minute. Transfer mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans, chipotle chiles and water; cover and cook on low heat for about 5 hours (this will vary – hers took 3).
Add the salt and lime juice and stir well (you don’t want to cook the beans with the salt – they tend to get grainy that way) – scoop out about half of the soup and transfer to a blender; puree until smooth. (Alternatively, stick in a hand-held immersion blender and puree a bit right in the slow cooker.) You want it to be half smooth, half chunky. Serve hot, or cool down and refrigerate for a day or two to allow the flavors to improve, then reheat. Serve topped with sour cream, if you like. Makes lots-6-10 servings, depending on appetites.