Spicy Black Bean Soup (vegan and gluten-free)
Author: 
Recipe type: vegan, gluten-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6 servings, can easily be doubled
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.)
Notes
*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.
Recipe by Will Cook For Friends at https://www.willcookforfriends.com/2017/01/spicy-black-bean-soup-vegan-and-gluten-free.html