Thanks for stopping by. This is a blog about a man and his family Living, Eating and Growing in London's East End.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup


Another bean soup recipe here, but this time with a little heat breathing from deep inside this smoky and nourishing soup. We eat a lot of beans, and I have waxed lyrical of all the reasons why. We also eat a lot of soups, and we like soup a lot. But there is more to soup than may be immediately apparent. A bowl of soup can contain all of the vegetables you want the whole family to eat without a discussion of its component parts - partly or wholly blended it can conceal any number of plant-based secrets. A soup is generally a one-pot affair and easy on the washing up, simple to prep and painless to cook - just leaving it to simmer, the longer the better. Leftovers are often fought over and occasionally eaten cold. So, all in all, soup is the source of many a good thing. Have I mentioned that this recipe includes cocoa powder?

But soup also serves the dual function of  a sauce for our carb-hungry toddler (he takes after daddy): spaghetti, steamed potatoes, toasted crusty bread, crisp bread, rice, bulghur, quinoa, polenta... all make soup a perfect sauce to be served on the carb of the meal. This soup has been served with bulghur wheat, rice and bread - all of which have been happily gobbled up smothered and swimming in this soup. Have I mentioned that this recipe includes cocoa powder?

We do our best to eat beans that we have prepared, but we are also happy to buy them canned. The nutritional quality is the same as most beans that come in a can are cooked in it, so nothing is lost, but more often than not, the cans contain more than just the beans and cooking liquor. Check for additives when buying canned beans and select those that are just beans and water. Other than price, canned beans create more waste than the dried option. The choice is yours - we try to stick with the dried beans mostly, but when we cannot stretch time to the soaking and the boiling required, we opt for the sweet convenience of a can. Have I mentioned that this recipe includes cocoa powder?

As with all recipes, I have definitely not stuck faithfully to any particular interpretation but used poetic license with soup authenticity and the recipe below reflects this. Take it as a suggestion of how to prepare it. This dish is yummy as is, but there is also room for variation and improvement so please experiment. If you have any suggestions, we would love to hear from you.

For reasons beyond the cocoa content of this recipe, click here for a link to why black beans make it on the wall of awesome.

Ingredients: (Serves 4 adults as a main)

  • 500g  dried black beans (for cans, see below)
  • 2 litres of water
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 tbsp 100% cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp low-salt bouillon
  • 1 tbsp cumin

For a quick soup, use four cans of black beans, in water and without salt, sugar or additives. Add the contents of the four cans plus one empty can filled with water to a large pot, then add the rest of the ingredients in the recipe. Bring to the boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Blend and serve.


  • Give beans a quick rinse and then soak overnight or for 8 hours in 2 litres of water.
  • Drain water and return to pot and add 2 litres of fresh water (this step is optional, if we leave the beans in water for longer than 8-10 hours, then we do a change over, otherwise it can feel like 'one more thing to do' so more often than not, we just cook the beans in the water that they have been soaking in).
  • Bring beans to the boil and then lower temperature so that beans simmer. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes or until beans are soft and tender.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and cook, covered on a simmer, for a further 30 minutes.
  • Blend and serve.
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