This morning, we piled out of the car for school drop-off and Phoebe hugged her t-shirt clad body and announced, “It’s cold!” Henry, not to be outdone, chimed in with “It’s absolutely freezing!” And, thanks to the near-arctic (for Austin, lately) 70-degree temps this morning, I smiled in satisfaction since I was perfectly comfortable in my hoodie. Especially since I’ve been sweating in my fall clothes for the last two weeks, just waiting for that first briskness in the air. And speaking of jumping the gun on fall, I’ve also been making this cozy, hearty, one-pot, and incredibly easy black bean soup on repeat lately.
This is one of those workhorse recipes that leverages the extreme convenience of canned black beans and makes the most of every ingredient—’cause when it’s 5:30 pm on a Tuesday night, no one needs to be rummaging around for random spices or kicking themselves for forgetting to soak the beans the night before.
I got the idea for this soup from Gwyneth Paltrow’s black bean recipe that I’ve been making for years. The key to the restaurant-level flavor of that simple recipe is to not drain the beans (#gamechanger) but instead to let them simmer right in their liquid for at least 20 minutes until everything thickens up and they start to break down into a near soup-y consistency. After making this recipe approximately 900 times, it finally occurred to me that by adding a little broth and a few more aromatics, I’d have a delicious hearty soup on my hands—especially when topped with alllll the fiesta-inspired Mexican garnishes.
This soup couldn’t be more perfect for those crazed weeknights when I didn’t nail my meal planning. It’s faster and so much cheaper than ordering takeout, especially since I almost always have the ingredients laying around in my pantry. Double or triple the recipe and freeze it for an even faster impromptu meal—you can always choose just one or two of the toppings in a pinch. And this is one that my kids really gobble up, especially when I give them a cheese quesadilla on the side that they can use as a dipper.
Hot tip: for the easiest version of this recipe (pictured here), serve the soup as-is with the beans starting to break down but still whole. If you like a creamier consistency, transfer half the soup to a blender and puree, then add it back into the bowl for a richer, more luxurious texture. It keeps well for three days in the fridge or two months in the freezer.
Scroll on for the recipe, and let me know in the comments if you give it a try!
This post was originally published on October 8, 2019, and has since been updated.
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 3 cans black beans
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2 limes
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (more or less depending on preference)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- for the toppings: sour cream, chopped avocado, sliced jalapeno, pico de gallo, tortilla chips
- In a dutch oven or stock pot, warm olive oil over medium-high. Sauté garlic cloves and onion just until they start to soften, then add all 3 cans of black beans, along with their liquid, and the chicken broth. Add about 8 stems of cilantro, juice from both limes, chili powder, and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Turn up to high until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer the soup for 20 - 30 minutes, until the beans start to break down and the soup is thickened to your liking. Divide into bowls and top with toppings of your choice.
**If you like a more luxurious, creamier texture, transfer half the soup to a blender, and blend into a chunky puree. Add back to soup pot and stir into the soup before serving.