(Note: this post was originally published on January 19, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
Black Bean Soup, Re-imagined
Who else loves a bowl of hearty black bean soup on a cold winter day?? It's one of my favorites! I think my love of black bean soup actually originated at Panera, long ago when Panera first came on the scene. I grew up in rural Vermont and had never seen anything like a Panera; the huge selection blew my mind. While I haven't been to one in years, I definitely credit them with the inspiration behind this soup.
But ssshhh, don't tell Panera, I think mine is way better. It's loaded with colorful grilled and fire-roasted veggies, yielding a huge diversity of textures and flavors. Plus I like to keep some of the beans whole while pureeing others, providing even more texture diversity.
The magic of this soup is the grilled vegetables. They provide so much more flavor than if the veggies just cooked in the soup directly. Yes, it's a bit of a pain, and yes it takes more time. But I promise it's 100% worth it. Please have faith in the grill and give it a try!
Here's the most important tip. You're going to be standing over the stove for a while, grilling all these veggies while the soup simmers away. Embrace it! Put on some music and make yourself a cocktail. This is what winter evenings are made for! If you grill the veggies in order of hardest to softest, you can just drop them right into the soup as you go and won't need to dirty a bunch of different prep bowls.
Make It Work for YOU
This is a soup with a LOT of great options. Feel free to change up the veggies based on what you have on-hand; anything you like alongside Mexican spices would be great. If you're really intrepid, you can grill outside, but I do it all on a grill pan and recommend that for ease (and for not dying of hypothermia). You can also control the heat level by adding a grilled poblano, a grilled jalapeno, and/or additional cayenne.
Don't forget all the fun toppings! I like to serve this with some combination of fresh toppings (cilantro, tomato slices) and crunchy toppings (pepitas, tortilla chips), and creamy toppings (avocado, greek yogurt). Cornbread is lovely with it too. My foodie friends Suz and Courts of the Treks and Bites Blog even designed a very special Grilled Corn & Cheddar Focaccia specifically to go alongside this soup, which you'll definitely want to check out.
Soup in general is a make-ahead wonder, and this one is especially so. It actually gets better over time! If you want to make this ahead of time, you have a couple options:
For a partial make-ahead approach, you can grill the veggies ahead of time and store them in the fridge overnight. It will cut down on dishes and on how many things you're trying to do at once on the day you actually make the soup. If you grill them all at once, just remember to add the harder veggies (e.g. sweet potato) first and save the softer veggies (e.g. bell peppers) for the end.
For a full make-ahead approach, make the whole recipe except for adding the lime juice and cilantro. When you're ready to serve, just reheat the soup, either in the full batch or in a smaller batch. Add the lime juice and cilantro right before serving for the best flavor.
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Salt and pepper
Oil of choice. For sauteeing and grilling.
Cumin seeds. Powder is okay too, but I love the whole seeds. If you decide to use powder instead, add it in at the same time as the other powdered spices.
Ancho chili powder
Tequila. Optional, for deglazing the pot!
Vegetable broth. This soup is so flavorful that water works totally fine too, if you don't have veggie broth on-hand.
Mexican oregano. Fresh if great if you can find it, if not then dried is fine.
Lime. You'll use both the zest and the juice!
Corn. Assuming you'll be making this soup in the winter, then frozen corn is the way to go.
Colored bell peppers
Garnishes of choice for serving. I like to use chopped fresh cilantro and roasted/salted pepitas. Maybe a few tomato slices? Avocado? A spoonful of sour cream or unflavored/unsweetened yogurt?
Now that we're in the depths of winter, Dave and I are pretty much subsisting on soup. I need to be warmed from within! This Black Bean and Grilled Vegetable Soup is just the thing for long, cold, dark winter nights.
This is a soup that I make again and again throughout the winter. It's just so wonderfully warming, delicately spicy, and hearty. Each time I make it, it ends up a little bit different based on what veggies I have around and what sort of spices I'm in the mood for. I like to make a big pot over the weekend, then enjoy the leftovers a couple times during the week.
Hope this one keeps you warm and cozy all winter long!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
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Take ONE of the red onions, dice it up, and caramelize it in a large soup pot with a dash of oil. Salt and pepper it liberally.
When the onion is caramelized, add the cumin seeds and toast for a minute, stirring frequently.
Add all the powdered spices (chili powders, coriander, paprika, cayenne) and toast for another minute, again stirring frequently.
Optional but awesome: deglaze the pan with a few shots of tequila!
Add vegetable stock (~4 cups to start) and start bringing everything to a boil.
As the soup is heating, add in about two thirds of the beans, more salt and pepper, oregano, and the zest of a lime.
Let it all come to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes to let everything soften.
Using an immersion blender (easy!) or a regular blender (working in batches), puree the soup base until you have a smooth consistency. Return it to a simmer and allow it to keep cooking as you work on the remaining components.
Add the remaining black beans AFTER pureeing. This will allow you to have some whole beans in the final product.
Taste and adjust! Do you want more heat? Then add more cayenne and/or chili powder. Do you want more flavor depth without adding heat? Add cumin or paprika. Feel like you need more zing in general? Add salt or lime zest (but save the lime juice for the end).
Cut the sweet potato into disks and grill until charred on both sides. Don't worry too much about cooking it all the way through, since it will have some additional time to keep cooking in the soup. Dice it up and add it to the soup.
Cut the second red onion into rounds and grill until charred on both sides. Dice it and add it to the soup.
Grill the corn and add it to the soup.
Fire roast or grill the bell peppers. Dice them up and add them to the soup only shortly before serving so that they don't get too soft.
Just before serving, add some finely chopped cilantro and the juice of a lime.