Slow-Cooked Black Bean Soup

Cooking can be a deeply meditative act. If you feel stressed, we invite you to slow down and soothe yourself by simmering a pot of this hearty bean soup. And on a chilly fall evening, it is so wonderfully comforting to cradle a warm bowl of soup in your hands.

Beans are now recognized as one of the healthiest foods we can eat, filled with protein, fiber, and deep nourishment. This Black Bean Soup is a classic, inexpensive and simple to make but so satisfying.


1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and sorted
1 cup chopped onion
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 or 3 large garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup dry red wine or sherry, optional
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Soak the beans overnight in a large pot with plenty of water, covered. Or cover with water, bring to a boil, then let stand off heat for an hour for a shortcut version of presoaking.

2. In either case, drain the beans after soaking, and rinse. Place in a soup pot with fresh water in a ratio of approximately 3 parts water to 1 part beans. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer steadily for 1 hour.

3. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, seasoning mix, nutmeg, and optional wine. Simmer for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the beans are soft.

4. Scoop out about 1 1/2 cups of the beans with a slotted spoon, avoiding as much as possible scooping out the other vegetables. Set aside.

5. Discard the bay leaves and transfer the solid ingredients, in batches, to a food processor or blender. Use about 1/4 cup cooking liquid per batch. Process until smoothly pureed, then return the puree to the soup pot along with the reserved beans. Or, insert an immersion blender into the pot and process until smoothly pureed. Season with salt and pepper and return to low heat for 15 minutes.

6. Just before serving, heat the oil in a small skillet. Add the sliced onion and saute over medium heat until golden brown.

7. Garnish each serving with some of the sauteed onion, 2 lemon slices, and some chopped parsley. This soup keeps very well for several days, and the flavor improves as it stands.

Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons, by Nava Atlas (Amberwood Press, 2006). Copyright (c) 2006 by Nava Atlas. Reprinted by permission of the author.
Adapted from Vegetarian Soups for All Seasons, by Nava Atlas (Amberwood Press, 2006).