Best Black Bean Soup Recipe (2024)



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Marc Hamilton

I soak the beans overnight in a dark lager, usually Dos Equis, which adds additional earthy flavors.


Why puree an entire 7 oz. can of chipotle chiles in adobo if you only need two tsps? I would use one with some adobo and freeze the rest in a ice cube tray, for other uses.

Julia Moskin

Hi all, I've researched the question of why some of you made this recipe and were frustrated by beans that never got soft.

Since there is acid in the cooking liquid here (from the wine), if your tap water is hard there may have been a reaction that prevented the beans from softening.

To be safe, you can add the wine later, along with the stock. And if there is any question about the hardness of your water, use distilled.

Hope that helps.



To be honest, my Latin American friends and I have giggled a lot about Bittman's recipe. This is how a French-trained chef might make black bean soup, but this is how you make it for real from Brazil to Guatemala, where black bean soup is part of everyday cuisine: black beans, a full head of garlic (remove at end), lots of fresh thyme, bay leaves, and then salt and pepper to taste. That's it. No red wine or carrots -- get out of here with that! ;-)


I made this soup this afternoon, skeptical about not pre-soaking the dried beans. Sure enough, even after cooking for 2-1/2 hours, the beans (which are not terribly 'old') were still too firm -- edible, but not lusciously soft. We were under a time constraint and ate the soup anyway -- the flavours were delicious -- but next time I'll definitely pre-soak the beans for at least several hours, if not overnight, as I do with all my other black bean recipes.


Just use a potato masher instead of a blender. It will give you the requisite amount of bean bruising you need with more control.


Bean shortcut to soaking overnite. WASH AND DRAIN THEM A COUPLE OF TIMES. BRING 6 CUPS WATER TO BOIL. ADD BEANS. BOIL 2 MINUTES, COVER POT, TURN OFF HEAT. LET STAND AT LEAST 1 HOUR UNTIL NICELY PLUMP. Been doing this since the 80's. Chop & sautee the following:1 head garlic, 1-1/2 green bell pepper, 3 med onions. Chop, seed and add 4 plum tom's, - simmer 10 min. Keep in fridge. Use 4 heaping tblsp + bay leaf for black bean soup. Wonderful and easy. Add heat to taste.


I cooked this for two and a half hours and the beans were still hard. It really ruined it for me. Rather than chalking it up to the possibility of hard water as in the response, when so many people report the same problem wouldn't it be better to just alter the recipe to include soaking the beans. Just sayin'.

George Hubbard

Black bean soup was always on the menu of a long-gone restaurant. I enjoyed it frequently, but wondered why it seemed better toward the end of the week. The chef's answer? Keep the pot going all week, adding sherry as needed to thin. Genius! (Rest in peace, Willy & Paul.)


Yes, I can vouchsafe for this, chipotles do keep a long time. For a real treat make grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches with schmears of the abobo on the bread with sliced red onion and tomato, really divine, for an extra kick add cilantro as well.


I like to add dry roasted coriander and cumin seeds, cooled and ground to accentuate the smokiness of peppers and beans. Also chopped tomatoes add a lovely sweet tartness.


You can also use 2 t of the adobo sauce from the chipotles and keep the rest in a glass jar FOREVER!


America's Test Kitchen did a comparison of cannelloni beans but I suspect their findings would apply to all varieties of beans. They preferred canned beans to dry beans. They found many dried beans were too old and desiccated to be made tender by soaking and simmering. They judged in general the beans used in canned beans to be fresher and of superior to those dried. This maybe why many of you are having a problem with hard beans. They're favorite brand was Goya, at least for cannelloni beans.


Made in 40 mins with dry beans using my new 'instant pot'!


I question the dry beans and I hope Ms. Moskins will answer this. Your recipe says "add dry beans and stock." I *love* using dry beans, but I always soak and drain, hoping to avoid any unhappy side effects. So... if I pre-soak and add the reconstituted beans, is there an adjustment to be made to the stock, amount of stock, other flavorings (ie stock concentrate in some form) to be made?

I used stored dry black beans last winter that only softened after three days of simmering.

Llyn Mc

I soaked the bean overnight and also gave them a quick soak in boiling water while the veggies were cooking. I used distilled water. No other changes. Love this recipe.


I followed directions on this exactly, and like others, my beans never completely softened. Three hours in and getting hangry I decided to get out the immersion blender and try to make the best of it. I ended up with a gritty mess. Aside from the texture, the flavors were way off. We ate it because we were hungry but I had to do a considerable amount of improvising to make it palatable. Why is this recipe still listed?


Less salt… Soak the beans if using fresh beans, but can use canned beans. Add corn. Top with Greek yogurt and diced red onion and avocado, spritz lime on at the end. Do not skip the wine.


Made this for the second time today. I realized I had old blk bns to use up so used abt 1/2 old half new. The old ones didn’t soften. So if that is an issue, ck age of beans. Also, I added wine & chipotle after the beans were (finally) soft. Also ck out the Jacques Pepin video on YT. That cooking time is more inline with my experience. This soup is AMAZING. Great depth of flavor. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.


I found the red wine flavor pretty off-putting and would skip that step next time.


I love this recipe so much, and have for years. But I live at high altitude, and even using Julia's tips for adding red wine later with the broth and using distilled water (yes, our luscious tap water straight from the Rocky Mountains is notoriously hard), and freshly purchased Rancho Gordo black beans, I am STILL nursing this soup to doneness nearly three hours later. I should learn. Will soak overnight from now on. And it's soooo good, so I will keep at it.

Amy G

Just made this. Unlike many of the commenters, I didn't have any problems with the beans softening. I used old dried Goya beans. I live at sea level, don't have hard water, and didn't add the wine until later in the recipe, as recommended in the notes. Flavors were amazing, especially after letting the soup sit for 4 hours before serving!


I was skeptical about the red wine and skipping the overnight soak-- but I made this exactly as instructed and it turned out *delicious.*

Michael O'Keefe

I ended up throwing in a whole 7 oz can of Goya chipotle salsa. Was delicious.

Home Chief

Definitely need to presoak the beans; 4 hours and those beans ain’t soft


I naively trusted a recipe because it was NYT cooking, and didn't read reviews. Beans took soooo long and never really softened. Should have trusted my instincts and soaked overnight and used ingredients I am familiar with to black bean soup (red wine???).To salvage the soup after 2 hours of simmering (and then 1.5 of a rolling boil with still crunchy beans), I pureed forever and then put the entire soup through a mesh sieve. It took forever, but the result was edible. Disappointed.


Made this with canned black beans for a most delicious weeknight meal! Love the red wine step, and we added sherry vinegar at the end!

Basenji in Austin

Honestly. The beans do not cook. Not matter if you use the water recommendations. Had to transfer to instant pot so as not to waste, and took two days to finish. Flavor was awesome but seriously, the recipe needs adjustment for the bean time/soaking.


Made this in instant pot in 40 minutes. Great smokey flavors; smooth, melt in your mouth beans. A vegan main dish.


Should presoak black beans or use several cans

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Best Black Bean Soup Recipe (2024)
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