Big Sur Black Bean Soup – Recipe

Perfect for the chilly damp days of early Spring, this spicy black bean soup recipe comes to us from the Big Sur area of California, where it is a favorite warm-up for hikers after a day along the beach or the forest.

Black beans are high in fiber and nutrition, low on the food chain, delicious, and inexpensive. And this soup is so easy to make.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
2 celery ribs, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups black beans, soaked in water overnight and drained
1 jalapeno, or 2 for more heat
2 bay leaves
kosher salt
freshly-ground black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook them until they are tender and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Add the cumin and red pepper, and stir for 1 minute. Add the black beans and 6 cups of water.

2. Using a paring knife, make several lengthwise slits in the jalapeno, add it to the soup, and add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the beans until they are completely tender and begin to fall apart, 40 to 90 minutes, depending on the age of the beans. As the beans cook, add more water, if needed, to keep them from becoming too dry.

3. Remove and discard the jalapeno and the bay leaves. If you like, you can puree half the beans using an immersion blender, or simply cook them for 15 minutes more, until they nearly dissolve.

4. Stir the soup, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and serve immediately. Or refrigerate, and reheat when ready to serve.

5. Serve with your favorite salsa, or some grated cheddar cheese, if you like.

Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from California Home Cooking by Michele Anna Jordan (Harvard Common Press, 1997). Copyright (c) 1997 by Michele Anna Jordan. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Common Press.
Adapted from California Home Cooking by Michele Anna Jordan (Harvard Common Press, 1997).


John B.
John B5 years ago

Sounds delicious. Thanks Annie.

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago


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Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey5 years ago

I love bean soup. Thanks.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 6 years ago

I love black beans soup. Thanks for the great recipe.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Philippa P.
Philippa P7 years ago

I'm sure this will become a favourite.

Mervi R.
Mervi R8 years ago

Excellent, thanks!