Let me start by saying that I don’t like black bean soup. In fact, until last year, I couldn’t even eat black beans themselves. Over the past year, I’ve gotten better at adding them to things and I even kinda like them in my salsa.
Let me also say that the hubby loves black bean soup. Especially from Panera. So when some family friends put in a request for “healthy black bean soup”, I decided I would give it a try.
I started by scouring the internet for recipes. And let me tell you, there are a lot out there. Just for kicks, I looked up the nutrition facts for Panera’s black bean soup. 1,590 mg of sodium per serving. That was all the motivation I needed.
Being that I’m unfamiliar with black bean soup, let me tell you what I do know about it:
-the broth is black
-there doesn’t appear to be anything in it but black beans
However, all of the recipes I looked at involved onions, celery and red pepper. So I started with that. Except I left out the celery, for the sake of the hubby. Me being the genius that I am, I didn’t exactly read through the directions of all the recipes I was looking at. I was more focused on the ingredients. So I decided since I didn’t recall seeing any of these ingredients in black bean soup before, it must mean they were chopped up very small.
SO, I spent an inordinate amount of time chopping up my onion, red pepper and garlic into veeeeeery time pieces.
After sauteing them for a while, I added the chicken broth, some cumin and some cayenne pepper and half a can of black beans:
It was about this time that I realized why I’d never seen anything besides black beans in black bean soup. BECAUSE YOU PUREE IT! DUH. Had I read the directions a bit earlier, I might have caught onto this fact. But not to worry- I stayed cool as a cucumber, grabbed my immersion blender and proceeded. Messily, I might add. There wasn’t a lot of stuff in the pot at this point and it was very splatter-y…but I managed.
Finally, I added the rest of the black beans. To cut back on the sodium, I choose low-sodium black beans. I opted to drain and rinse one can, and use the liquid in the second. You could use the liquid from both, or do what I did, or you could use one can with liquid and another cans worth of beans from your freezer. DECISIONS, DECISIONS, my friends.
To thicken the soup even more, I mixed some cornstarch and water, poured it in and let it simmer. I also added some lemon juice.
The result? Not bad, but per the hubby…it needs a little work.
To kick it up a notch, here are some suggestions:
-double the amount of cumin and cayenne pepper.
-add some sweet potatoes at the very beginning and puree them up with the first ingredients
Bottom line: If you’re used to Panera’s black bean soup, your system might be in for a little shock with this low-sodium version. But with a little doctoring and a extra spices, this version can taste just as good 🙂 And you’ll be better for it!
Black Bean Soup
½ a medium onion, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cup low sodium broth
2 cans low-sodium black beans
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ½ Tbsp cornstarch
1 ½ Tbsp water
juice of ½ a lemon
-Heat olive oil in a pan. Add onions, garlic and red peppers and sauté until soft.
-Add broth and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
-Add half a can of beans (drained and rinsed) and spices. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
-Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), puree until well blended.
-Add the rest of the beans, including the liquid from the second can.
-Mix the cornstarch and water together and add to the soup, along with the lemon juice.
-Simmer until thickened, 5-10 minutes longer.
-Garnish with non-fat Greek yogurt and cilantro if desired.
So tell me, what’s your favorite way to make black bean soup healthy?