Spicy Black Bean Soup

Rich in flavor and soft in texture, black beans, commonly called turtle beans, are perfect for soup, but making Black Bean soup can be a project; it is time-consuming and tends to need lots of adjustments, but is well worth it. Every time- and there have been many- that I have tried to speed up the process, I was sorry. It its best start this earthy, full-bodies soup the day before you want to serve it; two days before is ideal.

The freshman of the dried spice is crucial; if yours have been in your spice cabinet for years, please throw them out and get replacements! I always try to use low-salt stock for bean soup. Salt toughens the beans and extends the cooking time.

Spicy Black Bean Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 to 10 cups
  • 1 pound black turtle beans, picked over, soaked overnight, boiled for one hour drained, and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons dried Greek oregano
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cayeene pepper
  • 8 cups water or low-salt chicken stock
  • 1 ham hock (optional)
  • 1½ teaspoons brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper (optional)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • Dry Sherry
  • Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Sour cream or plain yogurt
  1. Place a heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat and, when it is hot, add the oil. Add the onions, garlic, and spices and cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the beans, water or stock, and ham hock, if desired, and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 2 hours, stirring frequently.
  3. After 2 hours, check to see if you need to add more water. If necessary, add to 2 to 4 more cups, raise the heat to high, and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 2 hours.
  4. If you want a pureed soup, remove the solids and place in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, gradually adding the cooking liquid. Add the brown sugar and salt and pepper to taste. (Do not be alarmed: This creates a somewhat grayish soup). If you prefer your soup with more texture, simply skip this step. Transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 3 days.
  5. Place in a pot and gently reheat. Add the lime juice and garnish with Sherry, cilantro, and sour cream.