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This is a great, flavorful, hearty soup that we fix often during the winter months, but it also works fabulously as half of a soup and salad combo when the weather is warmer. It's got plenty of flavor but not as much heat, and you can scale how garlicky the final results are with one simple adjustment. We've also varied the recipe by changing the type of beans we use... black beans, red beans, pinquitos, cannelinis, and we're really looking forward to doing this with borlotti beans! On a visual note, black beans will not give the best presentation because of the gray cast the skins give, but we feel they have the best flavor of all the beans we've tried to date for this recipe.
- 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, undrained and unrinsed
- 2 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons garlic (see directions for what kind and how it should be prepared)
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 pint chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin (we recommend toasting your own cumin seed and grinding fresh)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic granules
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt & pepper
- Heat olive oil in 2+ qt heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium-low heat.
- When the oil is warmed up, add the chopped bacon. Cook while stirring frequently to get the bacon to render out some of the fat. (You don't need to cook your bacon crisp since it's for soup.).
- When the bacon is beginning to give off part of the fat, add the onion, celery, and a good pinch of salt. (This will help the onion to "sweat".) Continue to cook on medium-low, stirring to prevent browning.
- When the onion and celery are translucent, add the garlic and continue cooking for just 1 minute. Garlic note: you can control how garlicky your soup will be by what form or garlic you use here -- roasted garlic will give a sweeter, richer, and least garlicky result -- jarred minced garlic will give you more garlic taste and aroma -- freshly pasted garlic from whole, raw cloves will give you the most garlic punch and a bit of heat, and you'll want to avoid breathing on people for a while, but it's our favorite!
- Add the entire contents of your cans of beans. (Yes, you may use dried beans if you hydrate and cook them in advance BEFORE adding them to the soup, but it will take more seasoning and much more time -- but it cuts your cost substantially.).
- Heat to steaming, then add the chicken broth, cumin, onion granules, and garlic granules (yes, more garlic! but a different kind.).
- Cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Taste and adjust salt & pepper to your personal preference.
- Serve hot. (Can be stored refrigerated for up to a week without losing much flavor.).