Vegan Black Bean Soup

The great debate is: Do you like your black bean soup creamy or chunky? I polled the office on a very busy Wednesday and got three votes for chunky, two for smooth. Feeling quite tired with a can't be bothered mood on this fateful hump day, I chose to keep my bowl chunky—and proceeded to devour two bowls right after shooting this video.

Creamy or chunky? The choice is totally up to you. Follow the video above for a chunky version with creamy beans, tender bites of peppers, onions, and tomatoes—or let it cool slightly before blending it to your heart's content for a smooth variation. The booming flavors of spice and chili peppers will all be there for you still.

Working against that stereotype of vegan food somehow always being magically lesser-than, this soup is loaded with spices and smoky numbers. There's chipotle in adobo, serrano, poblano, and cayenne for a quadruple hot kick; then there's onion, tomatoes, and a bit of sugar to balance that spiciness with underlying sweetness. For an extra layer of flavor, opt to boil your beans in a vegetable broth instead of plain water.

One spice that might be less familiar to you is dried shiitake powder. To make it, take some dried shiitake mushrooms and blitz it to a powder in your food processor or spice/coffee grinder. You can also use any other variety of dried mushrooms you can get your hands on! A powerhouse of plant-based flavor, mushrooms contain lots of naturally occurring MSG, which blooms into a lingering umami note when cooked. Once you have a batch of powdered dried mushroom on hand, you can add it to any soup, stir-fry, stew you'd like.

If you've made this recipe, leave us a note below in the comments and let us know how you liked it!

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Yields: 4 - 6 servings
Prep Time: 0 hours 25 mins
Total Time: 7 hours 35 mins
Ingredients
1 lb.

dry black beans

1 tsp.

baking soda

3 tbsp.

extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1

serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced

2

poblano peppers, seeded and finely diced

1

large red onion, finely diced, divided

6

cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 tsp.

kosher salt

1 tsp.

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp.

ground white pepper

2 tsp.

dried shiitake powder (optional)

2 tsp.

cumin seeds

1 tsp.

ground coriander

1 tsp.

smoked paprika

1/2 tsp.

ground cayenne

3 tbsp.

tomato paste

2

chipotle in adobo, minced

1 1/2 tbsp.

granulated sugar

1

(14-oz.) can diced tomatoes

5 c.

water or low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more as needed

For topping

Crushed tortilla chips

Diced red onion

Sliced avocado 

Sliced radishes

Sliced pickled jalapeños

Cilantro leaves 

Lime wedges

Directions
  1. In a large bowl, combine beans and baking soda and add water to cover by at least 4". Cover and let soak for at least 6 hours and up to overnight. Once fully hydrated, rinse beans and drain completely.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add peppers and let cook until slightly charred, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup onion for topping, then add remaining onion, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to turn golden, about 6 minutes.
  3. Push vegetables to the edge and make an empty well in the middle of the pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the well, then add pepper, mushroom powder, cumin, coriander, and paprika, and stir spices until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in tomato paste and stir until slightly deepened in color, 1 minute. Stir in chipotle, sugar, and diced tomatoes until well combined.
  4. Add drained, soaked black beans and water, then bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover pot with a lid, and let simmer until beans are tender and creamy, about 40 minutes.
  5. To concentrate broth, remove lid and continue cooking until liquid has reduced to desired consistency, about 10 minutes more. Optionally, for a creamy soup: Use an immersion blender or transfer slightly cooled soup to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth, gradually adding more water or broth if looser consistency is desired.
  6. Serve soup topped with tortilla chips, red onion, avocado, radish, pickled jalapeño, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice, if desired.

June Xie
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