Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Cilantro-Lime Cream, one of the world’s great comfort foods, is also one of the easiest to make. Just chop up some vegetables and cook with the beans and you’ve got a meal that is filling, healthy, and absolutely delicious.
When I was young, I couldn’t stand my mother’s white bean soup. I would do anything I could to get out of eating it. You should have seen the shenanigans I pulled. But my folks wouldn’t put up with it and I went to bed hungry whenever she served it.
My parents were not rich people, especially when their four children were little. As we got further from pay day, our meals contained less and less meat, saving my mother precious money from her household allowance. Bean soup was extremely economical to make and fed all of us with some sliced bread. It was often the last meal we had before pay day.
As it turns out, the primary reason I didn’t like bean soup wasn’t the flavor, it was the texture of the beans. I still much prefer refried beans to whole beans in Mexican food. One way around that aversion for me is to puree or smash the beans whenever possible. The best tools for that are the old-fashioned potato masher and an immersion blender.
You can pick up a potato masher at any hardware or kitchenware store and it cannot be beaten for making mashed potatoes and whenever you want your cooked foods left with some chunkiness to them. But if you really want a fast and efficient way to puree soups and sauces, an immersion blender is the way to go. With all the attachments available on the new models, it is a very handy tool to have available for a myriad of kitchen tasks.
For a perfectly smooth puree, nothing beats a traditional blender. It has the power to create a vortex that pulls all the ingredients down into the blade repeatedly until everything is smooth. You just need to be cautious when blending hot liquids. The steam can build up and make the top explode under the pressure. The best way to avoid being burned is to loosen the top of the blender or the little plug in the center of the lid. To be safe cover the top with a kitchen towel and hold it in place while blending and work in batches.
Chipotle peppers are one of my favorite ingredients. They are smoked jalapeño peppers and found either dried, pickled, or in a savory sauce called adobo. If you cannot find them in adobo sauce you can reconstitute dried chipotles in boiling water until softened and supple. Discard the stem and scrape out the seeds. Then slice or dice according to recipe directions. If you like the smokiness chipotles add to foods but have people who cannot take the spiciness, you can substitute smoked paprika.
Make sure you serve the cilantro on the side if any of your guests object to its flavor. Some people find it objectionable citing tastes from soapy and distasteful to down right nauseating. This variation seems to be due to predisposed genetic sensitivity to certain compounds found in its aroma. For more information, read this terrific article on NPR.com.
If beans give you the common gastric reaction, you can reduce the pain and bloating by using a product called Beano. Made from enzymes that help your body break down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars that your body can easily absorb. Because of the potential increase in blood sugar, anyone with diabetes should use Beano with a doctor’s supervision.
While this full-blown recipe is one of my favorites and well worth the time and effort, I do use canned black beans if my time is short. Make sure you drain and rinse them well before adding to the other ingredients to wash away any metallic flavor. If even this amount of prep is too much for you on especially hectic days, see my super duper shortcut under the Pro Tips section below!
I love the look of a dollop of the white cream on the top of a bowl of the dark soup, but if you want a more professional appearance, you can create a swirl. Thin the cream a little if needed to make it “pourable” and pour some in an ever widening circle on top of the soup.
To fill out your meal and to help offset the heat of the soup, you might want to serve something alongside such as tortillas or cornbread. The traditional accompaniments to Mexican food, guacamole and sour cream are also cooling agents that can help your guests if they are extra sensitive to spicy foods. If they are good with cilantro, you can give them an extra dollop of the Cilantro-Lime Cream. With this soup, crunchy tortilla chips are the perfect foil. I love the textural variety and satisfaction they give to the soup.
This soup would be perfect for your Cinco de Mayo celebrations! I hope you enjoy making this Chipotle Black Bean Soup using any of the methods described, and that it brings you happiness and satisfies your hunger for healthy, comforting foods!
Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Almost Cinco de Mayo!
Did you enjoy this recipe? Let me know in the comments and leave a star rating, I love hearing from you!
Ingredients needed for Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Lime Cream:
- For the Soup: Black beans (dried or canned), oil, onion, bell peppers, garlic, oregano, cumin, chipotles en adobo, tomato paste, water, chicken or vegetable stock, cocoa powder, orange juice, limes, fresh cilantro
- For the Cream: sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper
- Garnishes: Cilantro, tomatoes, limes, tortilla chips, cream sauce
Here is the super fast and easy version of this soup that is nearly as tasty using pre-seasoned canned goods. Combine 2 tbsp oil with 1/2 chopped onion in a saucepan. Sauté about 4 minutes to soften the onions. Add 2 cans of seasoned black beans, such as Cuban-style and 1/3 cup prepared salsa or more to taste (I like Frontera brand by Chef Rick Bayless). Stir together and bring to a boil. Cook for about 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture. Taste and adjust the seasonings. You can have this done in about 20 minutes!!
Because the black bean soup recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, the easiest way to measure out this small amount is to use tomato paste in a tube. You’ll find them in tall slender boxes near the tomato products at the grocery store, usually on a high shelf. This way you don’t have to throw out most of the can of tomato paste!
How to make Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Lime Cream:
- Prep the dry beans: Place beans in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour, Drain thoroughly. *Alternately, using canned beans, rinse very well in running water and drain completely.
- Make the Soup: Heat oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic, cook until onion is translucent, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the oregano, cumin, chipotle chiles, and tomato paste. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the cold water, stock, and soaked beans.
- Bring to a boil, boil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 3 hours or until beans are tender and liquid is mostly absorbed and slightly thickened. *If using canned beans, cook the other ingredients for about 30 minutes to develop flavor then add the rinsed and drained beans and cook an additional 30 minutes until tender and flavorful.
- Make the Cream: While the soup is cooking, combine the sour cream, lime juice (start with 1/2 lime) and cilantro in a food processor, running the motor until the herbs are completely blended in. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed or more lime juice or cilantro. Transfer to a bowl and store, covered, in the refrigerator while the soup finishes.
- Complete the Black Bean Soup: When beans are tender stir in the cocoa powder, orange juice, lime juice, cilantro, scallions, and salt, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot. Keep warm over low heat until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.
- Ladle into warmed bowls, top each with some of the cilantro-lime cream and garnish with fresh cilantro, chopped chives, and tomatoes. Serve with tortilla chips and extra lime wedges. For a hearty vegetarian main course, serve the soup over cooked brown or white rice.
Because the stems on cilantro are so pliable and slender, you don’t have to be as careful about stripping the leaves, especially if you are pureeing the soup. The easiest way to separate a portion of the cilantro to chop is to literally shave it off the bunch with a sharp knife. Hold the bunch by the stems with the leaves downward. Slice downward with the knife blade shaving off just the amount you need.
Cilantro tends to collect sandy soil in its leaves and be gritty. Make sure you rinse it under cold running water one sprig at a time. I run each leaf through my fingers to see if there is any grit left. Pat leaves dry with paper towels before chopping or mincing. Collect into a pile and run a very sharp knife through the leaves. Put all the pieces back into a pile and chop again. Keep doing this until you have the leaves minced to the size you like.
For sorting dry beans, it is easiest if you spread them out on a baking sheet with sides. Then you can work a small section at a time, removing any pebbles or other debris as you find it.
Recommended Tools (affiliate links; no extra cost to you):
- Chef’s knife and paring knife
- Cutting board
- Citrus reamer
- Dutch oven or stockpot
- Immersion blender or regular blender
- Food processor
- Soup bowls
Make sure the beans, chipotles, seasonings, stock, and tortilla chips are all gluten-free.
All recommended ingredients are gluten-free as of the writing of this article. Always check to be sure the products haven’t changed and are still safe to consume.
- 1 lb (454g) dried black beans, picked through for pebbles and rinsed, or 2 [15 oz; 425g] cans black beans*, drained and rinsed
- 3 tbsp (38g) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 medium red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 to 3 canned chipotle chilies en adobo, chopped
- 2 tbsp (29g) tomato paste
- 3 cups (681g) cold, fresh water
- 3 cups (681g) chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp (5g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup (168g) orange juice
- Juice of 1 fresh lime
- 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves or parsley
- Sea salt, to taste
- 3/4 cup (170g) sour cream or crème fraîche
- Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed very well and patted dry
- Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste
- Fresh cilantro sprigs, chives, or finely minced green onions
- Fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped
- Fresh lime wedges
- Tortilla chips
- Cilantro-Lime Cream (from above)
- Prep the Beans: Place beans in a saucepan, cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Drain thoroughly before using. (If using canned beans, there is no need to soak them ahead. Pour into a colander, rinse very well with cold running water and drain thoroughly.)
- Make the Soup: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the red onion, peppers and garlic; sauté until the onion is translucent. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the oregano, cumin, sumac (if using), chipotle chilies, and tomato paste; sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the cold water, stock, and soaked beans.
- Bring the soup to a boil, boil for 5 minutes stirring occasionally, then lower to a simmer and cook, covered for about 3 hours, or until the beans are tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed and slightly thickened. (If using canned beans, cook the other ingredients on their own for about 30 minutes to develop the flavors. Add the rinsed canned beans and cook an additional 30 minutes or until beans are tender and flavorful. Don’t worry if they get really soft because you are going to puree the soup.)
- Make the Cream: While the soup is cooking, make the cream. Combine the sour cream or crème fraîche, lime juice (start with juice of 1/2 lime), and cilantro in a food processor. Run the motor until the herbs are completely pureed and well blended. Taste and add salt and pepper. Add more lime juice or cilantro if you want a bolder, brighter flavor, but remember that flavors intensify with time.
- Transfer to a bowl and store, covered, in the refrigerator while the soup finishes.
- Finish the Soup: When the beans are tender and the flavors blended, stir in the cocoa powder, orange juice, cilantro, scallions, and salt; continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot. Keep warm on low heat until ready to serve. You can also use a food processor or regular blender, just work in batches.
- *If you prefer to use a traditional blender, puree the soup in 2 or 3 batches never filling the blender more than about half full. When blending hot liquids, always leave the top slightly ajar and cover it with a kitchen towel to protect yourself from the steam and splashes. Puree the first batch, pour into a large bowl and repeat until all the ingredients are smooth. Transfer back to the saucepan and reheat if needed.
- Ladle soup into warmed serving bowls, top each bowl with a dollop of the Cilantro Cream, sprinkle with chopped tomatoes, and garnish with a sprig of fresh cilantro or chopped chives. Serve with extra lime wedges and tortilla chips.
- For a hearty vegetarian main course, serve the soup over cooked rice.
Recipe found at www.theheritagecook.com
Adapted from a recipe in The Whole Foods Market Cookbook.
This soup is naturally gluten-free! All recommended ingredients are gluten-free as of the writing of this
article. Always check to be sure the products haven’t changed and are still safe to consume.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 467mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 5gSugar: 15gProtein: 5g
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is calculated by online tools and is merely an estimate.
If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to follow me on social media so you never miss a post:
Create a New Tradition Today!