Soup. Black Bean. Hot.

"What are you making?" Anne asked.

I looked up from the cutting board, and put the knife down so I wouldn't somehow cut my hand off when I wasn't looking (yes, I am that clumsy). "Black bean soup," I said.

"Is it from a recipe, or are you winging it?"

"I've made so many different recipes from so many different places, I just looked through the pantry and refrigerator and wung it."

We looked at each other. "Wung it?" I said. "I think I mean I am winging it What's the past-tense of winging it? Wang it? Winged it?"

"I don't know, but it's not 'wung it,'" she said. I couldn't argue with her.

"Anyway, it's fun to feel confident enough in my limited cooking skills to pull together some ingredients and combine them in a way that seems to make sense, based on my previous experiences."

She nodded, and left me to my work.

That was about an hour ago. I'm currently sitting here, eating an absolutely delightful bowl of soup, that's a little sweet and spicy. I'm so proud of myself, I could fart a rainbow (and I probably will in a little while.)

Because I did this on my own, I think I can share the recipe without breaking any rules or stepping on any actual chef's toes, so here you go:


You need:

1 can black beans

3 tomatoes (I used Romas)

2-3 cloves garlic

1 small yellow onion

1 chipotle chili (you can get these in the Hispanic foods section at the store for next to nothing and they make all sorts of recipes kick ass.)

1 Teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped

1/2 Teaspoon cumin

2 Tablespoons olive oil.

Juice of one lime.

Salt and pepper.


Chop the onion and mince the garlic.

Heat the olive oil in a 3qt soup pot or similar-sized saucepan over medium high heat for a minute or so.

Sautee the onion until translucent, about 4 or 5 minutes. While it cooks, chop up the tomatoes into small chunks and chop the oregano if you're using fresh. When the onions are translucent, Add the garlic and cumin, stir it all around, and continue to sautee for about another 2 minutes. Be careful not to let the garlic burn.

Shake up the can of black beans, open it, and pour it all into the soup pot. Stir, and then add the tomatoes and oregano.

Chop up the chipotle chili (you can use more if you want, but be careful not to use too many or all you'll taste is the spiciness, and that's not fun.) Stir again, and then add the chopped chipotle.

Add the lime juice (if you're hardcore, just juice that little green bastard right over the simmering pot, and say some Bond Villain stuff about how you expect it to die.)

Add about 1/3 cup of water (more or less, just don't let it get too watery or too thick) and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 or 15 minutes, until the beans are tender. 

Add salt and pepper to taste. You can serve it with plan yogurt or sour cream to cut the spiciness if you want.

This recipe made enough to feed me and Anne, though I'm sure it could easily be doubled for more people.

104 thoughts on “Soup. Black Bean. Hot.”

  1. Are chipotles fresh, or dried, or what? My local store caters to a large Hispanic population, so there’s not just one section dedicated to those flavors.

  2. First of all, the riff on the replicator request made me laugh for longer than I care to admit here.
    Secondly, next stop gnocchi. (There’s lots o’ potato peel’n, but it’s remarkably easy if you’re wearing a glove or using a towel to hold the potato to peel them after they’ve been boiled. The skin just falls off.)
    Lastly, I’m making this next chance I get! Thanks man!

  3. Mmmmm, that sounds delish. Thanks, Wil! I would make that tonight, if I had the beans. *grocery list*
    In the meantime, perhaps a cup of Earl Grey. 😉

  4. I was just sitting here, basking the the glow of a successful yellow curry foray this evening, wondering what to do for night 4 of my Meatless Week experiment. Got everything in your recipe sitting in my kitchen. Thanks, Wil. I think this is going to bowl my wife over and totally kick ass.

  5. I don’t think I thought of making soup with black beans before, in my mind they are part of Chinese sauces. I really want to try that now.
    So, when’s your recipe book coming out? 😉

  6. This recipe sounds delicious, and the bonus wilw commentary makes it extra fun! Chipolte and lime are now on my grocery list. Thanks!

  7. Yay Wil. I love black beans in anything, but especially chili and soup.
    @CeilidH Yes chipotles are just smoked jalapenos. You can find them canned in sauce or dried and packed in bags like sundried tomatoes in most stores that have an ethnic food section. If you’re using a dry chipotle pepper, just toss it in boiling water for a few minutes to rehydrate it then de-seed and chop it up. It’s easy!
    I make chili all the time with reydrated chili peppers and it’s so much better than just using chili powder!

  8. I just never know what is coming next on your blog?
    Sounds like the cooler the weather, the better this is. Thanks Wil. I may be able to impress my wife yet.

  9. Sounds nice. I might make it sometime in the next few weeks, actually.
    -and for the record I read ‘SOUP. BLACK BEAN. HOT.’ in Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard voice..

  10. Wil, you should go to and order 4 ounces of dried chipotle powder. Keep it in the freezer so it stays fresh. A scant half teaspoon is usually just perfect but start with less until you get the hang of using it to suit your tastes. Four ounces lasts a very long time. We love the stuff.

  11. In a pinch, you can use salsa in place of the veggies and spices. I cook my black beans in a slow cooker with olive oil, salsa, and kosher salt.

  12. Wil, How about a chopped slice of bacon or two to liven things up? I know it ruins the vegetarian karma here, but pork fat takes things to a whole new level…

  13. The best part of this recipe? It’s GLUTEN-FREE! This makes me and my allergic-to-wheat stomach super happy. Btw, thanks for posting a blog on Celiac’s- it’s so great to see people becoming more aware of the condition, and it makes it much easier for this of us who are gluten-free to find places and things to eat.

  14. Yum! I love black bean soup. I got my recipe off of a can of black beans, and like you, I’ve made it so many times I can wing it. It’s so quick and easy. Next time, add fresh cilantro to it right before you serve. Delicious!

  15. ooh, that sounds delish!
    for future reference, most of the recipe blogs i read just have a line like “adapted from ____” with a link, and that seems to cover the legal stuff
    you know, in case you want to make a wil wheaton cookbook or something.

  16. *LOL* While Voyager isn’t exactly my favourite of the Star Trek franchises, this reminded me of their first episode, where Tom Paris was trying to order Tomato Soup. “Hot, plain, tomato soup!”
    I’m not sure exactly why.
    On an unrelated note, this sounds fantastic – will definitely try it this weekend.

  17. I have three of those ingredients in my cupboard.
    Seriously, how do people keep stocked up on so many different things? I rarely keep more than 10/15 different food items in my entire house.

  18. This sounds great, and I’m going to make it myself. But you know what makes it even better to me? The fact that you said, “I’m currently sitting here, eating _an absolutely delightful bowl of soup_”. Not many men would describe soup that way; certainly not many men under 40.
    The more I read your blog, and your writing, the more respect I have for you.
    Oh, and I believe the OED agrees with you: “wung it” is perfectly acceptable, at least in my household.

  19. Because these are the things I care about:
    Merriam Webster says “winged”. However, if you’d prefer to follow a strong-verb derivation, I’d just go with the pattern found in ‘sing’ (i.e. wing, wang (past tense), wung (past participle) – although you’re always going to giggle when you say ‘wang’, I just know it). The thing to note is that the word was turned into a verb after it had already been in the language for a while as a noun – and at a time when the weak ‘-ed’ ending was considered ‘regular’, so it made sense to inflect this new verb with the ‘-ed’ ending.

  20. Delicious! I rarely (read that ‘never’) follow recipes as I too like to ‘wung it’ myself. However, out of my respect for you, I decided to give it a go for dinner. Of course, I tweaked it a bit to my personal taste, but in general, I stayed true. It was fantastic! The fresh lime strikes just the right chord with the spicy sweetness. I added a bit of sour cream as you suggested which added another level of yummy and a little sprinkling of fresh cilantro and dairy-free cheese on top were just lovely. I will definitely make this again and be sure to credit you as the originator to anyone who I make it for. Thanks for sharing your kitchen genius!

  21. No disrespect to Messrs. Mirriam and Webster, but the past tense of “wing it” is totally “wung it”! I’ve been saying it that way for years.
    Just because the Publishers of the Dictionary have so far failed to recognize your verbal geniosity doesn’t mean you were incorrect. If you and your readers stand fast and refuse to bow to the dictates of these self-professed “experts”, we can prevail. Soon, they will be forced to accept the validity, and sheer awesomeness, of words like “wung it”, and “geniosity”.
    By the way, the black bean soup sounds delicious! I love the flavor of chipotles, although they can be quite spicy if I use too much.

  22. So how long until you take on Iron Chef Bobby Flay in Kitchen Stadium? And what will you do with the secret ingredient? At least we know what one of the dishes will be, if you get black beans. Good menu–although I think Vidalia onions would be my choice over the standard yellow onions (sweeter, less sulfur taste).

  23. Soooo, this is where I might have to admit my knowledge of English isn’t as good as I thought it to be, but I gotta ask anyway: what’s “plan yogurt”? All I can think of is you, sitting at the table, staring intensely at the soup while planning yogurt, whatever that might mean.
    Of course it’s entirely possible you meant plain, but that explanation would be… Plain. I still prefer the planning thing.

  24. Long time lurker, first time poster. Recipe sounds great. Just made a thai shrimp basil coconut curry soup for dinner tonight for the wife and me (the kids got meatballs, it’s just easier that way).
    Also I wanted to that I just got the audio books for “Just a Geek” and “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” and I can’t wait to listen to them!

  25. Did you learn about those peppers from me? I remember mentioning them to you a few years ago, and you didn’t seem to know about them then.
    I don’t think “wing” has a past tense in that context. You can decide “to wing”. You can be “winging” it. Or you can just “wing” it.
    Don’t believe anything I say though. I’m usually just winging it.

  26. Wow! Thanks, Wil. I try to make a vegetarian dish at least once a week and I LOVE to make soups. Personally, I hate using canned stuff unless I really don’t have enough time for what I want to do, or I can’t quiet find the exact thing I’m looking for. (That’s the former sous chef coming through.) So I would probably soak some dried black beans to start and then maybe simmer them in some organic vegetable stock for about an hour. That would soften them up really nicely and then you would get some good flavor going. I do have to say that with canned beans I do like that nice thick liquid that they swim in while all snug in there. Just my thoughts though. Thanks so much for sharing.

  27. For the record, I have always used “wung it” as the past tense of “wing it.” While proper English probably dictates “winged it,” that phrase falls pretty flat. I think your gut reaction was totally acceptable even if “wung” is rejected by the spell-check. :)

  28. While my wife is in Japan, I confess that I am eating too much microwave food. Any sort of dogs, burritos, etc. I’m kinda mat at myself.
    HOWEVER, I have a day now and then where I venture into chef mode and actually cook something. The drag is cooking for one – that blows.

  29. I anticipate a whole GTY alternative to GTD. The “Getting Things Yogurt” method of lifehacking would either amuse or infuriate Merlin Mann (or both!)

  30. If you get the canned chipotles and don’t use the whole can at once (if you do, you must have more intestinal fortitude than I), the leftovers keep nicely in the fridge for quite a long time.
    What I do is dump the whole can in a food processor or blender (you could even chop very very finely), add another 2/3 of the can full of white vinegar, and a healthy pinch of salt. Whiz it up till it’s fairly smooth, and voilà, chipotle hot sauce that will easily keep in a jar in the fridge for months. It’s great mixed into a bit of mayo for a sandwich spread or dip for yam fries. Awesome stirred into chili (vegetarian or otherwise). If you want to get even a bit fancier, scoop out a 1/8-1/4c of your base hot sauce, mix in a clove of minced garlic, a Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and let sit for 20 min or so to let the flavours meld. That stuff is good on pretty much anything. I just make this version a bit at a time as the addition of garlic means you can’t keep in the fridge more than a few days.

  31. I’ll give this one a bash next time I have a vegetarian in the flat, although chipotle chillies can be a rarity in the UK. I might have to try it out with an eye-watering Scotch Bonnet.
    Loving the sour cream serving option.

  32. “If you’re hardcore, just juice that little green bastard right over the simmering pot, and say some Bond Villain stuff about how you expect it to die.”
    This is possibly the greatest sentence you have ever written.

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