Looking for the best black bean soup recipe? This is it! Black bean soup is made with canned beans for convenience, and tastes like it came from a restaurant.
This recipe actually reminds me of Panera’s black bean soup, if you ever had the opportunity to try their version before they discontinued it. It has a slightly smoky, savory flavor with plenty of veggies packed into each bite.
Why You’ll Love It
This soup is packed with fiber and plant-based protein, thanks to the black bean base. Research suggests that adding beans to a meal may help to lower blood sugar spikes and they contain minerals like calcium and magnesium, which may help to promote healthy bones.
You also don’t need to use partial ingredients here, like opening a can of tomato paste to get a few tablespoons, or a can of chipotles in adobo sauce. (Which, I admit, is one of my favorite things to add to a soup recipe like this, but I don’t want you to open a whole can just for this recipe.)
Instead, we’ll use simple pantry ingredients that you may already have on hand.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in black bean soup?
- Red bell pepper
- Dried spices
- Black beans
The base is super easy, and then you’ll stir in the final layer of flavor, including lime juice and cilantro, and the end.
I add red pepper flakes to this recipe to give it some kick, but feel free to swap that out for a pinch of cayenne pepper (literally, only a pinch!) or omit it entirely for a less spicy soup.
Note: I don’t use vegetable broth in this recipe because I think it’s unnecessary from a flavor standpoint. This soup is so flavorful on its own! However, feel free to swap the water for prepared broth, if you’d like to. Just keep in mind that you may need to watch the amount of salt you add in that case. (You can even use chicken broth if you don’t need this to be a vegetarian soup.)
How to Make It
1. Saute the veggies. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a large pot over medium high heat and saute the onions, celery, and bell pepper until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
Add in the garlic, ground cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, and red pepper flakes and stir briefly, just until they are fragrant. This should take about 1 minute.
2. Simmer. Add in the water, drained and rinsed canned beans, and salt.
For a thick soup, you may only want to use 3 cups of water, but I prefer to use 4 cups in total. If you reduce the water you use, you may want to also reduce the salt. You can always add more later!
Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and lower the heat. Let the soup gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. This will bring out all the flavor, and make the beans very tender.
3. Blend. Transfer 4 cups of the soup to a blender, and blend until very smooth.
Safety tip: When blending hot liquids, be sure to remove the vent cover in your blender’s lid, and cover it lightly with a thin dish towel to allow steam to safely escape. This will prevent the steam pressure from blowing the lid off your blender.
Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender and blend the soup directly in the pot, instead.
4. Enjoy! Return the blended soup back to the pot, and stir in the lime juice and cilantro. Adjust any seasoning to taste. (I usually add a little more salt.)
Serve warm in bowls with your favorite toppings, like sour cream, avocado, or even tortilla chips, for some added crunch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I cook this in the Instant Pot? Yes. In fact, cooking black beans in the Instant Pot may make them easier to digest, by potentially reducing their lectin content.
To cook this soup in the Instant Pot, I’d saute the veggies and spices as directed in the recipe using pressure cooker’s saute function, then add in the water, drained beans, and salt, and cook at high pressure for 8 minutes.
Let the pressure naturally release for 15 to 20 minutes, so that soup won’t spew out of the steam release valve, then move the steam release valve to venting to release any remaining pressure. When the floating valve in the lid drops, it’s safe to remove the lid.
Then blend a portion of the soup as directed, and add in the final ingredients.
Is this recipe vegan? Yes, this recipe is dairy-free and vegan as written. It’s also gluten-free!
Can I make substitutions? I can only vouch for this recipe exactly as I’ve tested it, but you can always swap things you have on hand. Try using carrots instead of red bell pepper, if you like, or a touch of chili powder instead of the smoked paprika, if that’s what you have on hand. You can add a bay leaf into the soup as it simmers, too, but don’t forget to remove it before blending and serving.
I think adding some corn or a can of green chiles would probably be interesting, too. Feel free to experiment with it!
Can I use less beans? You can, but the soup will be much more watery if you don’t cut everything else in half, too. My goal was to use only 2 cans of beans for this recipe, but to achieve the best texture, using only 2 cans makes a disappointingly small batch of soup, so I had to double it!
The leftover soup is amazing over baked potatoes, FYI. I highly recommend trying it with any extra soup you may have on hand.
Best Black Bean Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion , finely chopped
- 3 celery ribs , chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper , chopped
- 4 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional; for a spicy soup)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 4 (15 oz.) can black beans , drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt (I use Real Salt brand)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and saute the onion, celery, and red bell pepper until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using), and stir briefly, just until they are fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add in 1 cup of the vegetable broth, and scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure nothing is stuck to the pan. Add in the remaining broth, along with the drained black beans, and salt. Bring the liquid to a boil.
- When the soup is boiling, lower the heat and cover the pot, letting the soup cook until the beans are very tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Transfer 4 cups of the soup to a blender. Be sure to remove the vent in the blender's lid and lightly cover it with a towel, to allow steam to safely escape as you blend. (This way the steam pressure won't make the lid blow off the top-- don't burn yourself!) Carefully blend until smooth, then return the puree back to the soup pot.
- Add in the lime juice and cilantro, and stir until wilted. Then adjust any seasoning to taste, adding more salt, as needed. (I usually add a 1/2 teaspoon more salt.) Serve warm with your favorite toppings, like sliced avocado, sour cream, green onions, or tortilla chips. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you try this black bean soup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it!