Black Bean Soup

photo copy 3I’m currently in the throes of a love affair with black beans, which no bad thing since I’m in spending this month in Guatemala.

Served with eggs for breakfast, avocado at lunch and rice or tortillas at dinner, a saucepan of black beans can last for several days, becoming the basis for many different meals – soups, stews, chilli, and the famous frijoles volteados – refried or turned beans.

The basic recipe of beans, salt, onion garlic and water simmered for a couple of hours is tasty enough by itself, but take the recipe a step further with spices and vegetables and you have black bean soup. Served with a topping of hand chopped guacamole, crumbly feta or yoghurt it’s a very comforting meal.

As well as tasting delicious, black beans contain as many antioxidants as many fruits and vegetables thanks to the pigments which give them their characteristic dark colour. They’re also a good source of protein (20 grams per 100g) and fibre (16 grams per 100g), which will keep you feeling fuller for longer.

For this recipe you’ll need to soak your beans overnight or during the day – for a fast version you can use canned black beans which will make a soup in around 30 minutes.

Soaking beans doesn’t just speed up cooking time – it also reduces gas forming sugars or fodmaps, making the beans easier to digest.


  • 1 cup dry black beans or 1 can black beans rinsed and drainedIMG_9979
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (more or less depending on how hot you like it
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 8 plum tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • water
  • salt / pepper
  • guacamole / cheese /yoghurt /cilantro to service

How to

  1. Measure out the black beans, rinse thoroughly and pick out any damaged beans or stones. Place in a pan and cover with water – leave overnight or for 5-6 hours during the day.
  2. When you’re ready to make the soup, drain and rinse the beans and set to one side. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan and gently fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until golden
  3. Add the spices and cook for a further minute before adding the tomatoes, beans and peppers. Add enough water to cover the beans by an inch and bring to a simmer
  4. Cover and cook for around an hour stirring occasionally – if you’re using canned beans 20 minutes should be plenty (you can also add the stock at this point if using canned beans)
  5. Add the stock cube and 2 cups of water – continue to cook for a further 60 minutes or so (10 minutes if using canned beans) until the beans are tender and you have a soup like texture, topping up with more water if needed. If you prefer a smoother, thicker soup remove half the soup, roughly blend and then return to the pan.
  6. Serve ladled into bowls and top with guacamole or crumbled cheese.