spicy vegan black bean soup

The first bowl of Black Bean Soup I ever had was from Panera, way back in high school during my senior year. How I remember that? I’m not sure ha. I wasn’t vegan then but lightly dabbled with the vegetarian thing on and off and also the non-dairy thing here and there – even back when almond milk was unheard of and not as mainstream as it is now!

Back then (about 9 years ago… eek) Panera didn’t offer many meat-free or dairy-free options EXCEPT black bean soup and a couple salads, at least from what I remember. Now they have a handful of vegan-friendly options but I also remember choosing Black Bean Soup because it was low-fat and low-sodium but high in fiber. Guess I’ve always been into nutrition.

Yields 6
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Prep Time15 min Cook Time35 min Total Time50 min


3/4 cup water (or 2 tablespoons olive oil; if not oil-free)
1 red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3-1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped, to taste (optional)
2 medium-sized carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped (or any color)
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
1 15 oz. can organic sweet corn, drained and rinsed
3 15 oz. cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro
sea salt & pepper, to taste
toppings: avocado, crushed tortilla chips, jalapeño, cilantro, dairy-free cheese


Heat the water (or oil, if preferred) in a soup pot or large dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the onions and garlic, with a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
Stir in the jalapeño, carrot, red bell pepper, cumin, chili powder and red pepper flakes. Cook until vegetable are soft, about 7-9 minutes.
Pour in the beans, corn and broth. Bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook until the beans are soft and the broth has lots of flavor, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat.
Using a hand immersion blender, blend about half of the soup, still leaving whole beans in tact. Blend more for a smoother texture or less for a chunkier texture, depending on preference (this step is optional; you can also blend half in a regular blender, making sure to let out the steam, to prevent a soup explosion as it gets very hot. Pour it back into the soup pot).
Stir in lime juice and cilantro and taste test to see if it needs more salt or pepper. Adjust accordingly.
Serve with your favorite toppings!


For an even heartier soup, add in brown rice or quinoa!
Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 4 days or frozen.

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