Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Comfort Food: Homemade-From-A-Can Black Bean Soup

I'll be honest:  Fall isn't my favorite season.  I'm too much of a warm-weather girl to be down with the plummeting temperatures and vanishing foliage.  Spring and summer have my heart, and every October I'm sad to bid them adieu.

But even while I'm mourning the death of summer and the approaching tentacles of winter, some parts of fall make me smile:  boots, sweaters, postseason baseball . . . and soup.  Truth be told, I eat soup all year, but I can't deny that fall and soup are made for each other.

This black bean soup is one of my favorites, and it couldn't be easier.  All the major ingredients come from a can except the onions, and you can throw it together in half an hour.  I made this the other night with two whining toddlers clinging to my leg, and I didn't break a sweat.

Seriously, if you can dice an onion and operate a can opener, you can make this soup.  I try to keep the ingredients in my pantry so I can whip it up on those evenings when it's 5 o'clock and I realize that the Dinner Fairy isn't coming and it's all on me.

Start by dicing your onions.  I usually use one very large yellow onion, but this time I used a medium one and two small ones because that was what I had on hand.  You want about 1.5 - 2 cups of diced onion:

No need to be too fussy about the chopping; you're going to be pureeing everything eventually.

Put the diced onion in a heavy pot or dutch oven along with 2 tablespoons olive oil (or your fat of choice) over medium heat.

While the onion is softening, get your herbs and spices.  Thyme, oregano, and cumin:

I used fresh thyme because I had some growing out on the deck, but I usually use dried and it's fine.  Start with about half of teaspoon each of the dried oregano and dried thyme.  I'm not a big cumin person, so I use just a dash of it, but a half teaspoon would be a good place to start if you're not cumin-averse.  You can always add more when you get to the tasting stage.

Add the spices to the onion.  You don't want the onion to carmelize, so if it starts looking dry, open one of those cans of chicken broth and pour a small amount in the pot, just enough to keep things moist.  Keep going, stirring occasionally, until the onion is good and soft (about 10 minutes).

Then add the beans.  No need to drain them first; add the liquid too.

Also add the crushed tomatoes.  The tomato is the secret ingredient that makes this soup great.  It adds a nice acidity to balance out the beans without overwhelming them.  I use at least a cup of crushed tomatoes.  Slightly more would be okay.  Freeze the leftover tomatoes for the next time you make soup.

Also add one full can of chicken broth now.

Now comes the blending.  I used to puree this whole pot, in batches, in my food processor.  It was messy and a total pain (but still worth it because I love this soup).  Then Em realized I didn't have a stick blender and promptly got me one for my birthday.  And the heavens opened, and angels sang.

Seriously, best soup-making tool ever.

I like to puree this soup very thoroughly.  No chunks.

It's tasting time!  Check the consistency and add more chicken broth if it's too thick.  You might want to add more spices now, too.

And that's it!  You can eat it right away or let it simmer on the stove while you pick the kids up from soccer practice.

Serve it hot with the garnishes of your choice.  I topped it with sour cream and cheddar cheese here.  You could also do crumbled bacon, green onions, or avocado.

Snap on a bib and enjoy!

Here's the recipe in proper form:

Homemade-From-A-Can Black Bean Soup
from Ellementary Home

2 large (16-oz) cans black beans *
Approx. 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 cans chicken broth
1 large onion (or two medium)
Olive oil

Dice the onion and add it to a heavy pot or dutch oven along with 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Saute over medium heat.

Add a dash of cumin and approximately 1/2 teaspoon each of the oregano and thyme (if using dried; use more if fresh).  If the onion begins to carmelize, add a splash of chicken broth.

When the onion is soft and translucent, add the beans (including liquid), the crushed tomato, and one can of the chicken broth.  Puree using an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor.

Continue to heat, adjusting spices to taste.  Add more chicken broth if needed.

Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, or green onion.

* This makes quite a bit of soup.  There will be leftovers.  If you're just cooking for one or two, you can easily halve the recipe by using just one can of beans.

Linking up to Centsational Girl's Comfort Food Link Party!


  1. This looks amazing!

  2. I'm going to have to try this. Looks yummy!

  3. One of my favorite soups! Brings back memories of fall at the farm.