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All Souped Up

black bean soup

This soup is full o' beans

The time of year it is and the way I’m feeling says soup. Plain and simple. It’s cold without and cold within (cold and muzzy within my head, that is). My first thought was carrot and ginger soup (which is a favourite) but then I drifted towards something more substantial, and that lead me to think of this black bean recipe, which I adore. It’s one of those recipes that doesn’t have a long or complicated list of ingredients, but those that are featured just seem to combine to great effect. In its original format, the recipe is for a thick stew but, with a little more liquid added, it makes for a really hearty, chunky soup with a nice chili kick. The black beans used are those that are popular in Latin American dishes (sometimes called black turtle beans), as opposed to the (typically fermented) black soy beans found in Asian dishes, which are a different beast entirely. In any case, the soup version of this dish is exactly what I felt like today. That and a couple of hot whiskeys. Good for what ails ya.

Black Bean Charros: A Mexican Soup or Stew

This is a Mexican recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s great World Vegetarian collection, just very modestly tweaked in terms of the proportions of onion and tomato used.

You’ll need:
  • 225g dried black turtle beans, soaked overnight (or use the quick-soak method, see right); alternatively, if you can get tinned black beans, you’ll need around 5-600g drained weight
  • 1 x 400g can of tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 0.5 – 1 jalapeno or other fresh green chili, finely chopped
  • 2 tblsps coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tsp salt or to taste
The Steps:
  • If using dried beans and you haven’t had time enough to soak them overnight, you can quick-soak them as follows: cover with several inches of cold water, bring to the boil and boil rapidly for about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to soak for at least an hour in the heated water.
  • Drain the soaked beans, put into a heavy saucepan with about 1 litre of fresh water. Bring up to the boil, then simmer, partially covered, for about 1.5 hours or until the beans are tender. Alternatively, if you have a pressure cooker, they’ll only need about 10-12 minutes of cooking once they’ve been brought up to pressure.
  • If using tinned black beans, just drain and rinse them.
  • Remove about half of the cooked beans and place in a blender or food processor along with the salt and a little of the cooking liquid (or water, if using tinned beans). Blend to a rough puree.
  • Heat some oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat, add the garlic and onion, stir and fry until golden.
  • Add the tomatoes and the chili to the pan, bring to a simmer and cook gently, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Add the coriander, the bean puree and the remaining un-pureed beans to the pan. Stir to mix and, if needs be, use some of the liquid that the beans were cooked in to thin the mixture to the desired consistency (or use water, if the beans were tinned).
  • Stir and bring to a simmer, then simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  • If you keep the mixture fairly thick, you can serve as a stew with rice or tortillas. Alternatively, if it’s a bit more liquid, it works really well as a chunky soup and, in either case, a dollop of sour cream makes a pretty good addition, if dairy is your thing.
The Results:
  • Stew or soup for 4-5 bodies that need warming up.

28 Comments

  1. We reached a daytime high of 11 degrees yesterday – I need this soup to thaw out! The lighter color of this dish is an appealing change from the usual dark tint of most black bean soups, allowing the whole beans to peek through.

  2. What an interesting looking soup! I could really use something like this right about now…

  3. Yum. -4 here this morning too. Oh, and the chilli should sort that bunged up head out!

  4. I make a hearty soup every day in Winter and this is one of the best I have tasted, definitely a keeper if you love hearty healthy made from scratch food.

  5. Daily Spud

    Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Tangled Noodle: coldest winter in 30 years over here in Europe they say – I think we all need a bit of thawing out!

    Fearless Kitchen: see comment above :)

    English Mum: that chili will sweat whatever it is out of me, that’s for sure!

    Katkat: Welcome! …and, yep, it’s a keeper :)

  6. I got her curry bible there at xmas……quality book just needs more photos….

  7. Daily Spud

    Friday, January 9, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Welcome to my humble spud home Manuel! I’d have to agree that Madhur does tend to be a bit short on the ol’ piccies in her cookbooks (the World Vegetarian book has approximately zero photos) but I’m willing to forgive on the basis of the otherwise quality contents…

  8. It’s great that you recommend using the pressure cooker. Not enough people do and it makes wonderful soups, especially bean soup.
    You mention Asian fermented black beans, and you can sometimes get black soybeans which are rich and delicious and would be good in this soup but they take much longer to cook. Pressure cooker comes in really handy with them.
    I have rarely had a black bean soup that I don’t like. This sounds delicious.

  9. What a delicious and flavorful soup!

  10. Daily Spud

    Friday, January 9, 2009 at 8:11 am

    Jill: I haven’t tried cooking dried black soybeans (just the regular soybeans), so I must give them a whirl. I cook lots of pulses and I just wouldn’t be without my pressure cooker – it speeds things up no end.

    Meg: it’s a winner alright :)

  11. Soup weather it is, I never remember it being this cold, I love it though. This soup looks great, really warm and comforting:)

  12. Daily Spud

    Friday, January 9, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    It’s soup all the way right now Lors!

  13. I love bean soup, and the weather here is perfect for it. There’s always something inspiring out on the Internet! Thanks for wandering by my wee blog; I appreciate the kind comment. Take care!

  14. Here in Upstate New York we have been trampled with cold and miserable weather. Just reading your soup recipe warms me down to my toes.

  15. That looks like a big bowl of comforting loveliness to ward off the cold weather and whatever ails ye :-) Black beans are a big favourite around our way too.

  16. Jenni: I very much enjoyed my first look at your wee blog – it won’t be my last visit, that’s for sure – there’s lots of stuff there that I can learn from

    Lauri: glad I could help with that all-over warming process!

    Jen: black beans are indeed mighty things, whether you’re ailing or not :)

  17. That really looks delicious. I’d like to invite you to take some time to drop by at Foodista and share your delicious recipe with us. We have launched an online food and cooking encyclopedia ala wikipedia. Add a recipe and you can win a $100 gift card to Sur la table. Don’t forget to register first so we know who to thank the recipe for. Thanks!

  18. I agree with Tangled- I like the contrast- I have a wonderful black bean soup with chipotle and cream I made in my cafe, but I simply love tomatoes (in almost everything…if it suited a cookie I would do it)! I can so see a bowl of potatoes, tomatoes, and black beans…hint of spice. Soup today it is…

  19. Daily Spud

    Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Foodista: Thanks. Been meaning to take a closer look at Foodista, so I’ll just have to get myself on over there…

    Chef E: tomato cookies, now there’s a thought! As for spuds, tomatoes and black beans, don’t think you could go far wrong with that combination…

  20. Yum, this looks like the kind of soup that will kick away the cold.

  21. Sounds delicious! I love soup too. Thanks for posting this, you have a great blog

  22. Nice call pairing it with some whiskey that’ll certainly warm you up.

  23. kickpleat: this soup certainly kicks :)

    maris: welcome and thanks! glad you could stop by…

    Marc: yep, that whiskey is guaranteed to warm you up on the inside!

  24. DS,
    I have a cold and would love some of that soup goodness today! I will go make some.
    PS I love how you put your recipe format in your blog, the shading and boxed instructions. Very easy to read.
    Stacey Snacks

  25. Beans are soooooo good and filling! This soup would keep us satisfied for days.

  26. Daily Spud

    Friday, January 16, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    Stacey Snacks: Thanks – glad you like the format. Hope you’re feeling better by now…

    Duo Dishes: this batch kept me satisfied for about 3 days, as I recall!

  27. You have a great site! I was looking in my pantry and found I’ve been overbuying canned black beans. I’ll be making this soon.

  28. That Black Bean Charros sure sounds good.

    One of my favorite Mexican meals is to fish tacos!

    I love fish tacos.

    Taco Fish La Paz in Guadalajara, Mexico has a stand on Avenida La Paz in Guadalajara sounds like ‘Taco Nirvana’.

    My experience in Mexico is that some of the best places to eat are those that are off the beaten path that the locals frequent.

    I’ve been looking for good places to eat in Guadalajara and Taco Fish La Paz in Guadalajara sounds like just the place.

    Fortunately, I live in Ajijic, Jalisco so the trip is a short one.

    My mouth is watering,

    Gracias!

    Joe Chapala
    Casa Preciosa Ajijic, Mexico

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