Cooking with Lou

Black Bean Soup

– Posted in: Soup

I really enjoy beBlack Bean Soupan soups and one of my husband’s favorites is Black Bean Soup. Thick, creamy with a little kick and chunks of ham on top is always a crowd pleaser in this house.

There are at least a dozen recipes for black bean soup on Food Network alone and low and behold…..mine is just a little bit different. So…unique..maybe, but probably not. People in Paulding County, Ohio have been making bean soup (with navy beans) forever and that is where my recipe has its roots.  It starts with that left over ham bone from the holidays, boiled until the ham bits can be pulled off. (No, it’s not just boiled in plain water, but with vegetables and herbs for flavor.) That juice becomes the stock for my black bean soup. All that hammy goodness is soaked into those beans for a very full flavored soup. Stick around, I’ll tell you how, from start to finish.

Fear not….if you don’t have a left over ham bone, you can purchase a ham hock or two from your local grocery store. They typically have some bits of ham left on them. Or….you can use chicken or vegetable broth for the stock. You will need 2 quarts. Skip the “Making the Stock” part and go straight to “Making the Black Bean Soup” section

Black Bean Soup

Making the Broth


  • 1 good sized ham bone with some meat left on it.
  • Water, enough to cover the bone.
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard or 1 teaspoon mustard seed….which ever you have is fine
  • If you have whole cloves….add just a couple. If ground…1/2 teaspoon
  • 4-5 Allspice corns, or 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • NO Salt is needed at this point, the ham is salty enough
  • 1 celery stalk (tops and all)
  • 1 small onion or half a large one
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 cloves of garlic


Use a stock pot or large soup pot. Put the ham bone in the pot, cover with water. Turn heat to high.

Chop the celery, onion and carrots into large chunks and put those into the pot. Peel the garlic and just add it to the pot.

Now add all the herbs and spices.

Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about 1 hour. Let it cool for a while

Take a large colander and put into another large pot or container. Now carefully, remove the ham bone and place in the colander. Pour the ham broth over the bone, straining out all of the vegetable chunks, bay leaves, and other flavor boosters. They have served their purpose and are no longer needed. Lift the colander out of the liquid and allow all that juice to drip through into the container below. You can use this broth right away or save it for another day. It freezes really well

Once the ham bone has cooled enough to hold, pick off all of the ham and put aside until you’re ready to make the soup. It too can be frozen.

This broth recipe is good for just about any type of broth that you may want to make. Substitute left over chicken bones, or that turkey carcass, or if you want to make beef broth, use a couple of good sized short ribs or beef knuckle bones. The same flavor boosters work for just about any stock. They all freeze for ongoing use.

Making the Black Bean SoupBlack Bean Soup


  • 1 lb package of dry black beans
  • 2 quarts stock (ham stock from recipe above or chicken or vegetable stock)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic (or use garlic powder if that’s what you have on hand 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 bell pepper (I like using red or yellow, or a sweet green pepper like a cubanelle, but a green bell pepper is fine)
  • 1 chipotle pepper (or two if you like more heat)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (if you have an aversion to cilantro… could leave it out and substitute some fresh basil, you just won’t need as much.  A few leaves chopped.
  • 1 small lime (zest the lime and save the zest for the sour cream)


Add all of the stock to a large pot. Save a 1/4 cup out.

Add the beans to the stock, bring to a low boil.

Chop the onions, pepper, garlic, and carrots

Chop about 1/4 of the cilantro or the basil if that’s what you’re using.

Add the olive oil to a saute pan and heat, add the carrots and saute for about 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the vegetables and the chopped cilantro or basil . If you are using garlic powder or granulated garlic, just add it to the pot. Once all the vegies are soft, add them to your food processor or blender along with that 1/4 cup of broth you saved and the chipotle pepper. Blend until smooth.  Then add the puree to the pot. Stir. Turn down to low .

Take a taste. Add salt or pepper to taste.

Let everything simmer together for at least 2 hours or until the beans are soft. Remember to stir every 15 minutes or more often to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. Beans are full of starch and as they cook they have a tendency to stick. Stirring is important. Don’t forget. If you find that sticking is becoming a problem….turn down the heat.  As the soup simmers, the liquid should reduce by about 1/3. It will also get thicker. This is a result of the starch in the beans. If the liquid has reduced by more than 1/3 put a lid on it. The steam will add moisture. This shouldn’t happen until the soup has simmered for over an hour. If the liquid reduced sooner than that, you had the heat up too high. So, turn it down AND put a lid on the pot.

Oh, and don’t forget to taste. As the soup simmers the flavors change and become more intense, so add salt, pepper, or more heat if you want.

Just before serving time, chop the ham bits if they are bigger than a small bite. Also, chop some more cilantro. Now squeeze the lime into the soup. Make sure no seeds get into the pot.

Remove about a 1/3 of the soup and put it into your blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth. Add it back into the soup pot.

If you have a stick blender you can use that without removing any of the soup. Just blend until about 1/3 of the soup has been blended smooth. If you want whole beans, only do about 1/3 of the soup to smooth. If you want your soup totally blended, just keep going until it is all smooth. One this step is done add the ham to the pot. Let it heat through.

Now you’re ready to serve. On the top of each bowl, add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

While the soup is simmering, take a cup of sour cream and add the zest of the lime to it. This is an optional step. It’s just I once ate in high-end Cuban restaurant that added lime zest to their sour cream and it was delicious. If, you’ve a mind to, zest the lime and add the zest to the sour cream;then garnish each bowl with a dollop of the cream.



0 Comments… add one