Smoky Black Bean Soup

Smoky Black Bean Soup

13 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2011

This will probably be the most hauntingly delicious black bean soup you've ever tasted. The coffee adds a slightly toasty, woodsy background note. The optional ham hock adds smoky, salty ham flavor. Serve with a mixed green salad or a grilled cheese sandwich with pickled jalapeños. Recipe by Joyce Hendley for EatingWell.

Ingredients 6 servings

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  • 1 pound dried black beans (2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped, ⅓ cup reserved for garnish
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups brewed coffee
  • 1 ham hock (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
  • 6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for garnish


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Pick over beans; rinse well. Place in a large bowl with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Let soak for at least 6 hours or overnight. (Or use the quick-soak method: Cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil; simmer 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 1 hour.) Drain.
  2. Heat oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add all but ⅓ cup of the onions, bell pepper, celery, jalapeno and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are beginning to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Add cumin and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add the beans, water, coffee, ham hock (if using) and bay leaf; cover and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Skim off any foam that rises to the top, reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the beans are very tender, 1¼ to 1½ hours. If using, remove the ham hock and set it aside to cool; remove the bay leaf. Stir in salt.
  3. Puree about half of the soup in a blender or food processor until fairly smooth. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Return the pureed soup to the pot and heat through. If desired, cut meat off the ham hock, trim away any fat and chop the meat into small pieces; stir back into the soup.
  4. Serve the soup garnished with the reserved chopped onion, a dollop of sour cream (or yogurt) and cilantro, if desired.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days; thin with a little water if necessary after reheating.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1⅓ cups
  • Per serving: 297 calories; 8 g fat(2 g sat); 15 g fiber; 43 g carbohydrates; 15 g protein; 257 mcg folate; 6 mg cholesterol; 3 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 811 IU vitamin A; 32 mg vitamin C; 92 mg calcium; 4 mg iron; 430 mg sodium; 769 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Folate (64% daily value), Vitamin C (53% dv), Iron (22% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 3
  • Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat

Reviews 13

November 05, 2017
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By: jackiegirrl
So I'm not the only one who did not care for this at all. I agree. Very bland. Waste of ingredients and time. I didn't use ham hock or jalapeños. It also made me physically sick for days. Maybe it was the coffee which added nothing in the flavor dept. I'll stick to my own black bean soup next time.
January 16, 2015
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By: EatingWell User
A waste of ingredients 'Hauntingly delicious?' Perhaps it was that write-up that set this recipe up for failure. Those are some flowery words to describe a meal that is, at best, merely edible. At first, the only modifications we made to this recipe were no hamhock, more vegetables, more garlic, and the addition of chopped, fresh jalapenos as well as some chipotles and adobo. After cooking for two hours, we ended up with a soup that looked a lot like dog food but didn't have the flavor appeal that dog food might have had. To call this soup bland (even after the addition of both fresh and smoked jalapenos) would be giving it far more credit than it deserves. We added cilantro, diced tomatoes, and hot sauce - just to make it edible. There's a ton left over that's just going to go into the trash. Don't waste your time or ingredients on this one. Pros: Makes a lot of soup. Cons: Makes a lot of soup that you have absolutely zero interest in eating.
July 19, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
Delicious with Some Additions I like this recipe and spiced it up in the following manner: I added approximately 4 slices of cut up applewood smoked bacon to the veggies. I didn't use the ham hock although I'm sure it would give it more flavor. I halved the beans and coffee (I'm slowly trying more beans) and I used canned beans. I also added about a cup of spaghetti sauce and some smoked paprika and a teaspoon of sugar to cut down the acidity. I sprinkled a little lime juice at the end for extra zest also. I think using sweet italian sausage or chorizo would also give this soup a lot of flavor. Pros: Finally eating black beans Cons: Bland without additions
April 22, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Bland. Bland. Bland. I had really high hopes for this recipe! We added cayenne, garlic powder, salt salt salt, hot sauce.... and lots of all of those things...which made it taste ok. The coffee does absolutely nothing. I would not make this again. Pros: None. Cons: Everything.
April 13, 2013
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By: jmh
Cook Ahead I put in a ham hock, so in order to remove the resulting fat I cooked it a day ahead, let it cool, then took off the fat before gently reheating. The ham also provided the salt, so didn't need to add more.
January 28, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
I loved it I follow recipe but added some saizon seasoning I thought that gave it the extra kick that it needed
December 26, 2012
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By: nospam99
Smoky, yes, but very bland I had to make some changes due to food allergies and to deal with what was seasonal and in the pantry already. I omitted the onions but increased the garlic I used a ham hock, but mine is fresh from the pig, not smoked or cured I used regular sour cream I used dried ancho chilies instead of fresh jalapeno peppers The taste was indeed quite smoky, but lacked any sort of brightness or zing. I grow a much spicier garlic than you'll find in the grocery store, but it gets lost in the starch and long cooking. The regular fat sour cream helped add body and I also added a splash of lemon juice when plating for acidity. Nonetheless, I had to add quite a bit of hot sauce -- and I'm not a hot sauce fan -- to want to finish the bowl. As a base recipe for black bean soup, it's not bad, expect the seasoning to need to be reworked and ramped up for your tastes. Or consider serving with fresh tomato salsa as well as the sour cream. Pros: Easy to make, Most ingredients already in your pantry Cons: Relatively flavorless, Unsatisfying, a little watery
March 07, 2012
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Bland Bean Soup I had high hopes for this one. I wanted something made from dried beans. But this one was not the one to go with. Bland is an understatement. I don't know how much salt in the world could have saved this but then my salt intake would have skyrocketed. I didn't use the hamhock. Would that have made the difference? I don't know because it was _that_ bland. The coffee seemed to make it more bland. I healped the yogurt and it does help but I've had great black bean soup and you don't need yogurt or anything to make it taste good. It's suppose to taste good without any fixin's. This won't be on my saved recipes list. Pros: Made from scratch Cons: Bland
February 23, 2012
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By: EatingWell User
Earthy bold soup meets sweet topping delights I highly recommend the work involved in getting this soup to your liking; follow the recipe but feel free to add or subtract according to your taste. I recommend cutting the vegetables into larger pieces or waiting to add them in until the last 30 minutes of simmering time. It sounds odd, and I almost omitted it, but putting a good scoop of Greek yogurt and eating that with the soup was a flavor blast I will always remember. This recipe is worth the work. Pros: Excellent source of fiber, filling, rich taste, contrast flavorsof soup and greek yogurt was amazing Cons: Beans dominated all tastes, coffee was lost, long prep time
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