Hearty black bean soup

Black beans are an important source of plant-based protein and fibre. They are also a good source of iron. They are packed with all kinds of minerals and vitamins, and are particularly high in folate, a B-vitamin that helps produce red blood cells and prevents neural tube defects in pregnant women. In addition, black beans contain antioxidants, making them a key food in your fight against heart disease and cancer.

I started cooking with black beans years ago when my youngest daughter became vegan. But they are an excellent food choice for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Below is a hearty and savoury soup that is chock full of black beans. It is perfect on a cold wintery day. To give it a rich and smoky taste without bacon, I added some sun dried tomatoes and grated smoked tofu. And if you don’t care for tofu, don’t worry; you only taste the smokiness, not the tofu. And, because the sundried tomatoes have a natural salty taste, you don’t need to add any salt.

For best results, I prefer to use a homemade vegetable stock which I often store in the freezer. However, you can also use a store-bought kind or vegetable bouillon cubes with boiled water.

You can make this soup with canned or dry black beans. Although dry beans are more nutritious than canned, they are a lot more work to prepare! If you use canned beans, make sure that you drain and rinse them well because they are often high in sodium, which is sometimes added as a preservative.

A good idea is to buy canned beans without the sodium and add the beans with the bean juice to the soup. Just reduce the amount of water in the recipe by the amount of bean juice. Yes, rinsing the beans might wash aways some nutrients; however, given all the healthy ingredients in this soup, you needn’t be too concerned.

Hearty Black Bean Soup

Serves 8-10

  • 6 cups cooked black beans, canned or dry beans soaked and boiled* (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons (tbsps) extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup smoked tofu, finely grated
  • 2 medium-size cooking onions, chopped
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1  jalapeño pepper (red or green), seeds removed and chopped small
  • 10 sundried tomatoes (60 grams), not packed in oil
  • ¼ teaspoon (tsp) cumin
  • 1 tsp fresh or dry rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 cups pure tomato purée, no added salt or sugar
  • 4 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 1-2 cups water (add more if need be)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Ground pepper
  • Salt (option, with sundried tomatoes you may not need to add salt)

* Note: Dry black beans: Cook them separately before adding them to the soup. Soak 2 cups dry black beans overnight in a big bowl filled with water and cover. Strain and rinse the beans and put them in a pot filled with salted water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer beans with a cover half on for 1 to 2 hours or more until they are tender. Strain and rinse and add the cooked beans to the soup and proceed with recipe. If you make them ahead of time, cooked beans can be stored in fridge for one week or in freezer for up to 3 months. 

  1. Soften the sundried tomatoes in a small bowl covered with warm water. Set aside.
  2. Heat up a big non-stick soup pot with olive oil. On medium heat, add the smoked tofu, onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper and sauté until the onions are soft, about 6 minutes. Add a little water if ingredients stick to the bottom.
  3. Chop the softened sundried tomatoes into chunks and discard water. Add them to the pot with cumin, rosemary and oregano. Sauté all ingredients for another 3 minutes adding a little water if it sticks. It should smell fragrant at this stage!
  4. Strain and rinse the beans. Set aside.
  5. Add the tomato purée, vegetable stock, water and half of the cooked beans and simmer for another 5 minutes with lid on. Then, process directly in the pot with a handheld blender until smooth.
  6. Add bay leaves, ground pepper. Add the remaining half of the beans and simmer for another 10-15 minutes stirring from time to time.

This soup tastes great as is or you can add a dollop of yoghurt, sour cream or vegan cream on top of each serving. It also freezes well. Bon appétit!

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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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