I consider black beans the little black dress of food. Elegant and simple, they can be dressed up depending on what you put with them. Curry powder, turmeric and cinnamon create a little exoticness in this one pot soup that makes enough to enjoy more than once for a winter dinner. It’s a change from the typical Southwestern spices simmered in black bean soup.
Remembering to soak the beans either an hour or two ahead (“quick soak” method) or overnight will most likely be the only challenge you will have with this soup that goes together simply and quickly then simmers away freeing you to do other things. The black beans fall apart just enough during simmering to create a slightly thickened soup and diced tomatoes added toward the end give color and the right amount of acidity.
I like the soup just as it is, but my carnivore husband is wild about it when it has cooked ground chicken sausage folded in at the end (see recipe note for that option). Garnished with a spoon of plain Greek-style yogurt, a sprinkling of chopped mint or parsley and pomegranate seeds elevate it for serving to guests on a dreary winter evening.
Store bought naan bread brushed with olive oil and briefly heated under the broiler is simple and convenient accompaniment
- 1 pound black beans
- 1-1/2 cups chopped onions (1 medium or ½ large)
- 1 cup chopped carrot (1 large)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic (about 3 large cloves)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, more for a spicier soup
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 cups water, vegetable broth or chicken broth or a combination
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes, drained
- Plain Greek yogurt
- Chopped mint or parsley
- Pomegranate seeds
- Put beans in a stockpot and cover with about two inches of water. Bring to a boil; turn off heat, cover and let sit one to two hours (see note for alternative overnight soaking method); drain.
- In a stockpot, sauté onions, carrots and garlic in olive oil until softened; stir in curry, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Add water or broth, soaked beans and bay leaf; bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered over low heat until beans are soft, about 1-1/2 hours. Stir in tomatoes and simmer 15 to 20 minutes; season with salt and pepper, adding additional cayenne pepper for a spicier soup.
- Garnish with yogurt, mint or parsley and pomegranate seeds.
To add ground chicken sausage or ground chicken to the soup: in a skillet, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat; add 1 pound ground chicken sausage or chicken and cook and stir until cooked through, about 5 minutes; stir into soup along with the diced tomatoes.