Spicy Black Bean Soup (vegan and gluten-free)

Spicy Black Bean Soup is one of my favorite things to order out, but something I’d never really mastered making from scratch… until recently. This version is easy, economical, and so much tastier to make at home! Read on, or jump straight to the recipe, HERE.

Spicy Black Bean Soup (vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

We’re nearly two-thirds of the way through January (which means nearly two-thirds of the way through these 31 Days Of Healthy Recipes!) and there are a few things I’ve learned about myself in this process.

  1. I talk to myself when I’m working. I don’t just mean the occasional utterance, either. There’s something about spending three days straight shooting recipes and not even bothering to change out of my pajamas that just makes me kinda chatty. And with no one else around, what’s a girl to do? I tell myself that Neko is listening, but he’s totally not.
  2. Three days is about as long as I can go without picking up weird habits that make me more socially awkward than I already am. See bullet point number 1.
  3. I can literally live on soup. Ha, just kidding! I already knew that. But these past couple weeks have confirmed it.

Spicy Black Bean Soup (vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

If you were to go back in time and tell ten-year-old-me that when I grew up, soups would become one of my favorite foods, I would have been like… “what happened to cookie dough and ice cream and cookie dough ice cream???”

Fortunately, ten-year-old-me comes around to the idea eventually. Because I am eventually-ten-year-old-me, and soups are one of my favorite foods.

Am I even making sense anymore? Did I mention I’ve started talking to myself? I really need to get out of the house more.

Spicy Black Bean Soup (vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

On a more serious note, I have learned a few things during this month of recipes. One of them is about the value of recipes like this one. The kind of recipe that taste even better the next day… and two days later, and three. The kind that can be doubled and tripled, and freezes and thaws without a hitch. Recipes like this are the backbones of healthy habits.

Because let’s get real. While it’s great to have new recipe ideas every day, actually making a new recipe every single day just isn’t feasible for most of us. That’s where leftovers come in, and planning ahead, and making giant pots of soup that will last for months in single-serving portion sizes in the freezer. (If you aren’t already doing this — get on it! It makes life so much easier.)

This spicy black bean soup is one of those recipes. It’s simple enough to throw together on a weeknight — and is sized for a regular family meal — but also, it’s super easy to double and freeze for times when cooking just isn’t a happenin’ thing.

Spicy Black Bean Soup (vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

Also, you can totally live off it. I’ve tested this theory.

Do you have a favorite dish (soup or otherwise) that you make big batches of for future meals? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Spicy Black Bean Soup (vegan and gluten-free)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: vegan, gluten-free
Serves: 4-6 servings, can easily be doubled
  • 1 lb. Dried black beans
  • 4-5 cups low sodium vegetable broth, water, or a combination (plus more water for soaking the beans)
  • 2 TBSP olive oil, coconut oil, or oil of choice
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced small
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 jalapenos, diced small (*see recipe notes)
  • 1 tsp. Chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • ¼-½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (if you're a cilantro hater, use parsley instead)
  • Salt, to taste
Optional, for serving:
  • fresh avocado
  • extra cilantro
  • sliced green onions
  • lime wedges
  • additional red or green bell pepper, diced
  • chopped red onion
  • basically any toppings you like
  1. If you have the time to plan in advance, soak your beans overnight by covering them with water. Make sure they're submerged at least an inch below the surface, as they beans will expand. If you don't have that kind of time, you can quick soak the beans by bringing them to a boil in a pot, removing from the heat, and letting them soak for just one hour. Once the beans are done soaking with either method, drain them thoroughly.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the oil, onion, and carrots, and saute for about 5-6 minutes, or until the onion has turned translucent. Add the garlic, red bell pepper, jalapeno (see recipe notes), chili powder, cumin, and a big pinch of salt, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the soaked and drained beans, along with 4 cups of fresh water or vegetable broth. Add a big pinch of salt, bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for about 1 hour, or until the beans are tender. Check the pot occasional, and add a splash more water or broth if needed.
  4. For a thick consistency soup: I like to give it a few pulses with an immersion blender. Alternatively, you can transfer a few ladle fulls to an upright blender, and puree that then return it to the pot. Or just let the soup simmer for a while with the lid off.
  5. For a thinner consistency soup: add additional water or vegetable broth, as needed.
  6. Season generously with salt, to taste, and stir in the chopped cilantro before serving.
  7. Serve with the toppings of your choice. I went with fresh avocado (to cut the heat a little) sliced green onions, additional cilantro, red bell pepper, and a squeeze of lime. If you'd like your soup spicier, add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce. If it's bordering on too spicy, top with a dollop of sour cream, plain greek yogurt, or your favorite vegan alternative. (A dollop of full-fat coconut milk is delicious, too.)
*The spice from hot peppers is mostly held in their seeds and veins. This means you can control the level of heat in the soup by removing some or all of these before dicing the peppers.

For a milder soup: remove the seeds and veins and discard them. If you're worried this may still be too spicy for you, reduce to just one jalapeno.

For a spicier soup: leave in some, or all of the seeds. For this batch I de-seeded one pepper and left the seeds in the other, and found the level of heat to be as hot as I would ever want it -- spicy, but not melt-your-face-off spicy. Peppers tend to vary from plant to plant, too, so if you aren't sure, I would say err on the side of caution. If you feel the soup needs more kick at the end, you can always add a dash of cayenne, some red chili flakes, or your favorite hot sauce. (And if you're cooking for people with a range of tastes, you can always make the soup on the mild side and let everyone adjust to their liking at the end.)

Recipe inspired by this black bean soup from The Pioneer Woman.


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14 Responses to Spicy Black Bean Soup (vegan and gluten-free)

  1. Christine | Vermilion Roots January 19, 2017 at 10:07 am #

    So excited to see this recipe! Now I have a plan for the bag of black beans in my pantry. Hopefully this soup will help me get to know black beans better.

    • Willow Arlen January 19, 2017 at 10:19 am #

      Yay! I think you’ll really like this soup, Christine. :)

  2. Nicola @ Happy Healthy Motivated January 19, 2017 at 11:24 am #

    I love soup, too! And I totally know what you mean about tastes changing as you grow up. When I was little, I hated pretty much every vegetable ever and now I love them all. I’ve never tried black bean soup before, but I love black beans, so I’m definitely going to give this a try!

    • Willow Arlen January 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm #

      Our kid selves would probably be appalled by our adult ways! And I hope you try this soup — if you’re a fan of black beans, you’ll love it!

  3. Erren January 19, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    I’d love to try some!

  4. Kylee from Kylee Cooks January 19, 2017 at 11:36 am #

    Oh, wow. You really took this soup to a whole new level of flavor!
    I’m totally amused by the name of “Neko” – I assumed cat (because Neko is Japanese for cat), but was wrong!

    • Willow Arlen January 19, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

      Haha, yep! We have a cruel sense of humor. When he was a puppy he made a meowing sound every time he yawned, and since he’s part Akita (a Japanese breed) we thought Neko was fitting. He still has some weird cat-like behaviors. My mom is convinced we’ve confused him by naming him like we did.

  5. swathi January 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm #

    These black bean soup are delicious, healthy and spicy that part I like it more. You are right these great soup recipe for family dinner.

  6. Karen January 28, 2017 at 4:10 am #

    I’m like you. I love soup! I roast chicken, and make broth for soup. All kinds of soup. Soup is my comfort food. Your recipe’s are the best! I feel like I’m already at your table, with friends.

    • Willow Arlen January 28, 2017 at 9:06 am #

      Aw, thank you so much, Karen! You’re so sweet. Homemade broth is the best. I love roasting chickens because you get so much out of it — so many meals, and a freezer full of broth for soups and stews.

  7. plasterers bristol February 27, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

    yum yum, this recipe sounds awesome. Thanks for sharing. Simon


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