Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Chiles

One of the wonderful things that people do when you have a new baby is to bring over food. You see, in your sleep deprived state, you should not be operating heavy equipment or things in the kitchen like sharp knives and fire. When our daughter was born I did things in the kitchen like poor myself a cup of hot coffee and keep pouring and pouring as it overflowed puddling on the counter top and oozing over the edges until my brain finally kicked in and said "enough!"

Dylan's friend, Ranita, brought us over a wonderful dish: black bean soup, an avocado, salsa, tortilla chips. I can't remember having had black bean soup before but this stuff was delicious. We have tried to get the recipe from her but I think she is busy with her own little one. So, left to my own devices, I began searching out a recipe that would resemble the one she made. Now that I'm allowed in the kitchen again here is the winning recipe. We will be forever grateful to everyone who brought us nourishing food during those first few months as we adjusted to our new family.

Nutritionally, beans are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and fiber. Most Americans do not get enough fiber in their diets. Beans lower cholesterol and prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, which means they're good for people with diabetes. They contribute to heart health with significant amounts of antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6 and magnesium. AND beans are protective against cancer. There was a study done on 90,000 women and the researchers found a significantly reduced rate of breast cancer in the women who had a higher intake of beans and lentils. Two or more servings a week was associated with a 24% reduced risk! (Encyclopedia of Healing Foods, Murray, 2005)

Black Bean Soup with Chipotle Chiles
adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2004, but pretty much left intact

The best thing about this recipe, other than the taste, is that you can put it in the crock pot and forget about it. AND for those of you who forget to soak your beans the night before, this recipe rocks as there is no presoaking needed. In addition, it's inexpensive, feeds way more than than the 6 people listed in the recipe header, and can be frozen. We even used some as a dip.

Slow cooker (aka Crock Pot)
Immersion blender or regular blender


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium-size red onions, chopped
  • 1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 16-ounce package dried black beans
  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chiles* (more to taste)
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 4 cups hot vegetable broth (preferably homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir 1 minute. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then hot water/broth mixture. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, about 6 hours. Here it is important to taste for the amount of spiciness you desire. If you want more heat add some more chipotle. Use your immersion blender (aka stick blender) to puree some of the soup-don't go crazy here, it only takes a minute, you want some of the beans left whole. If you are using a traditional blender, transfer 2 cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth then return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker. Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt and a few cilantro leaves on top, and a side of avocado slices, tortilla chips or a cheese quesadilla.

*Chipotle chiles canned in a spicy tomato sauce, sometimes called adobo, are available at Latin American markets and many supermarkets.

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