home cooked dinners by the season

Indian Spiced Black Bean Soup

Indian Spiced Black Bean Soup

IMG_1691I 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

Indian Spiced Black Bean Soup
Serves: about 10 cups
  • 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
  • Garnishes:
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Chopped mint or parsley
  • Pomegranate seeds
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Garnish with yogurt, mint or parsley and pomegranate seeds.
To soak black beans overnight: Put beans in a bowl and cover with two inches of water; cover and refrigerate overnight.

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.

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16 thoughts on “Indian Spiced Black Bean Soup”

    • Yes to substituting for canned beans, but I have not tested it that way! But I’m hoping to encourage using dried beans (and whole, unprocessed foods for that matter!)
      I would substitute four 15.5 ounce cans (drained and rinsed) for the one pound dried black beans and cut the water/broth down from 10 cups to 6 cups. It would only need to simmer about 30 minutes to blend flavors.

  • This was a hit when I made it the other night. Super easy and delicious. It tasted even better the next day for lunch!

  • Just made a quick mini version of this with some leftover canned black beans, chicken broth, frozen mirepoix and a small fresh tomato and all the spices and let it simmer for awhile on the stove – turned out an amazing easy Indian flavored soup – DELICIOUS!!! Thanks for the great recipe!

    • Thanks for the shortcut tips, John. I am always happy when a version of my recipes are used to make cooking time in the kitchen shorter.

  • Made this soup for College game day. I didn’t want Mexican style black beans this time. Followed the recipe, added non-fat Greek yogurt and jasmine rice. (I’m from Louisiana, we have rice with soups and gumbos.) I did not add meat. Had Naan bread on the side. It was great. This recipe is a keeper. YUM.

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