28 Minute Black Bean Soup

This super quick black bean soup (28 minutes start to spoon) is for Ari.  I literally timed it. I started chopping at 11:48.  It was in the bowl at 12:14.

Ari started teaching high school special  ed at an inner city school in Baltimore through the Teach for America program.  At nights, she is working on her Master’s degree with the goal of becoming a speech therapist.

She takes such pride in her work and is trying to be the best teacher that she can be, but it is a tough slog.  These kids have a lot of special challenges.  Then she goes home, does her own school work, and goes to sleep.  Get up and repeat. 

No Stock Required

Ari is always exhausted.  She asked me for a simple, filling and healthy soup recipe to keep her warm in winter and that she could make in less than half an hour.  Her eyes lit up at the suggestion of Tex Mex.  I immediately thought of Black Bean Soup, because it uses canned beans and doesn’t need the extra step of a soup stock. 

This method gets around the need for stock by using the liquid in the can from the beans and the tomatoes.  Remember, you’re also getting a fair whack of salt when you do that (unless you bought no-salt beans and tomatoes), so taste atthe end before you add any more salt to the pot.

Keeping It Fast

This recipe does require you to chop an onion and a red pepper, plus mush some garlic cloves.  This will take a few minutes. I do this by hand because I do it often enough that it’s a quick job.  I cheated by buying a bag of carrots already cut into julienne slivers because that saves time.  If cutting up the onion and the red pepper are going to take enough time that it is going to stop you from making a homemade soup, then you have two options. 

1) Use a food processor if you have one.  A blender won’t work well for veg chopping (although it would for pureeing the finished soup if you choose to do that).

 2) If you don’t have a food processor, look in the vegetable section of your grocery store for a package of chopped diced “soup mix” veg that includes a mixture of onions, garlic and peppers. If it also has carrots, bonus!  In that case you won’t need a separate bag of carrots.  If it includes something else like chopped up celery, that’s fine.  Don’t worry about it.  Just rinse well and chuck it in the pot.


  • Spicing: Regard the spicing as a suggestion, and change it to your tastes.  My family doesn’t like food too spicy; I like lots of cumin.  Change it however you want.  Seriously, whatever you want.  The easy thing to do would be to just buy a jar of a chili powder that you like instead of buying separate jars of things like ancho, cayenne and cumin unless you think you’re going to use them.  Note that I have not added salt in the recipe, because the recipe uses the juices from the cans.  Taste at the end and decide for yourself.
  • Smooth or chunky? Like your soup with nice big pieces?  Then leave it alone and serve as is.  Like it smooth?  Puree it – but you will need a food processor or blender.
  • Thick or thin?  If you want this soup to essentially be a vegetarian chili, just put less water in, or boil some of it off.
  • Want more veg?  Try tossing in a grated or finely chopped zucchini.


  1. Karen N Feuerstein

    Hi Ellen – Great recipe – I’m going to try it – so nice you thought of helping Ari – she’s doing an amazing job too!

  2. I am also going to try it!