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. A chipotle is a smoked, (dried) jalapeno. They are red in color, generally. These are usually more tasty than they are hot, very flavorful, but can be hot depending (just like jalapenos, you never know which are really hot until you eat one!) You can get them whole, or crushed in spice jars, sometimes.
    Wil is using the canned chipotles in adobo sauce (small can, found in the Mexican section of the grocery store). They can be fiercely hot to those unused to hot foods, but both are very tasty.

  2. Dude, you did NOT just post a recipe. Do you remember when you came over and I was watching the Food Network before it was so damn popular? Do you remember how much crap you gave me for doing that thing instead of playing guitar hero? Ok, as long as you remember.
    But it does sound quite lovely! And I like your past tense first choice, just keep wunging it man. Wung on!

  3. Man, thanks for that – I wondered what the best way was to not waste those tasty little fellas after only using part of the can. Those tips are going straight into my recipe book. :-)

  4. Finally, a recipe!
    All that you need is a pan of hot steamin’ cornbread to go with that soup… :)
    Before we know it you’ll be growing a garden! Fresh jalapenos and tomatoes are fantastic, ya know :)

  5. It all depends on what you like to eat in the 1st place, and then keeping the staples on hand to make what you want, when you want :)

  6. Steal away!
    And if you’re not vegetarian, definitely try it as a marinade for flank steak (or pork chops!). A couple tbsp of the base sauce, a couple glugs of oil & vinegar, a couple of bashed cloves of garlic and a few hefty pinches of salt. Let sit a couple hours, or even better, stash everything (steak included) in a ziploc, and freeze. Super handy to have on hand. It thaws in a sink of warm water in no time, then pop on the BBQ or under the broiler till done, chop ‘er up, and there you have fodder for some of the finest tacos/tostadas you can put on your own table.

  7. Just got back from the grocery store. I’m going to change things around a bit, since I’m a kitchen ninja. A kinja, if you will.
    Anyway, I’m adding bacon. I’m just saying.

  8. Vegetarian foods are awesome! yey, Will!!! about the rainbow thing-it is sooo FUNNY! You should make a book with collection of your jokes

  9. That sounds delicious.
    The Mexican food chef Rick Bayless usually suggests using chipotle Colorados (when chipotle chiles are required) but I’ve never been able to find them, even online. I even tried to find the seeds to grow some myself – alas, no luck.
    I cook a lot and Mexican food is one of the kinds of food I like to cook. But I’ve not been able to master refried beans (or tortillas for that matter but this thread has more to do with beans). I’ve tried lard, bacon drippings, cooking the heck out of them first, various spices but the taste and texture never quite impress; it’s a shame when canned foods taste better than home made (and refried beans from the can are tasty, sometimes I take a bite even before I heat them).
    Next time I make them I’m going to try epazote and chopping them in the food processor with stock after cooking (but before frying).

  10. FYI: when using canned beans it is recommended to rinse them first, cuts down on sodium (bah) but also the complex sugars that our intestines can’t take and produce the notorious gas cloud effect. (I suppose it takes away from the consistency of the soup, but you could toss in some thickener like corn starch or flour to make up for it.)

  11. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I made it for dinner tonight and it’s delicious!
    Good timing too. Turned out my husband got stuck at work until late, and this should be easy to keep warm and yummy until he gets home. If I don’t eat the whole pot first.

  12. This sounds yummy! I too have no formal culinary training but I love to experiment in the kitchen – sometimes it turns out great other times a semi-disaster – but being a single guy the only one who has to eat it is me so its all good. :)
    Your choice of ingredients is very intriguing…especially the cumin…one of my favorite spices. Definitely will try this recipe very soon – and I hope you will forgive me for possibly adding some meat to it (have to balance my carb intake to keep myself lean).
    Erm…getting lean. Down 20+ lbs since the holidays. πŸ˜‰

  13. “I’m so proud of myself, I could fart a rainbow (and I probably will in a little while.)”
    As long as you don’t fart a double rainbow, all the way across the sky. Because that would be, as we know, so intense.
    I am definitely fixing this for supper tomorrow.
    As an aside, I don’t think it is possible to read the name of this recipe out loud in any voice other than Patrick Stewart’s. Attempting to do so could cause a rip in the fabric of space and time (this being aside from any other rips that may occur later).

  14. As I am not a Californy fancy lad, like yourself, I added poblano peppers and chili powder to your recipe. It was good, but needs work for next time. I would up the heat (maybe soak a habanero in the pot) and add a little roasted corn. Also, it would improve by a factor of 5 if made and then left in the fridge for a few days to fester.

  15. Great recipe, Wil, but one quibble. You left out when to put the oregano in. You mentioned chopping it if it is fresh, but then didn’t mention it after that. Just in case you ever do publish a cookbook, your editor will call you out on that one:)

  16. Love this conversation, especially the Rick Bayless reference. If you’re going to use a dried chipotle, kids, Bayless recommends roasting it in a frying pan and then rehydrating in hot water first.
    I envy your location in Southern California, where all sorts of Mexican items can be acquired with relative ease.
    My wife doesn’t like the spice, so we make black bean soup mild and then I add the kick when we divide into bowls.

  17. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who regularly hurts themselves while cooking…
    I am currently reading Chew, a recent discovery of mine that I’m greatly enjoying.

  18. wung 1 sound wing winged wung it
    1. wung 15 up, 9 down
    Past tense of wing.
    Back-to-school sales already? Man, summer really wung by.
    2. Wung 7 up, 4 down
    Adjective- To have abnormally large wings.
    “Damn, Angel from X-Men is totally wung.”
    Posting recipe to /ck/ shortly. But I’m here for an off-topic reason. Wil, I found a poker book I’ve been wanting to share with you, since I enjoyed reading a couple poker books you plung.
    Herbert Yardley, The education of a poker player.
    Yardley played poker when he wasn’t busy breaking japanese codes during WWI. His other book, the American Black Chamber, is about codebreaking. He was sort of the julian assange of his day. It’s not that you need his poker advice, but he’s a good story teller, who happened to choose poker as a topic. I’m guessing your focus now is more on writing than poker, but still, maybe you’ll need something to read on a plane someday, or be trapped in a stuck transporter for awhile.

  19. I make a soup similar to this. I throw in macaroni noodles, because then my kids will eat it, and sprinkle fresh cilantro on top. You wanna really fart rainbows? Add a white starchy carb!
    You’re right about the fresh lime. Pork carnita tacos with black beans, cilantro and fresh lime? Oh yes. Our local taco truck serves everything with halves of key limes.
    …And here’s a Wang Chung mention, because no one has made one yet. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.

  20. The experts at stackexchange claim “winged it.”
    Interestingly, I learned there that “wing it” is originally theatrical slang, referring to “an actor learning his lines in the wings before going onstage, or else not learning them at all and being fed by a prompter in the wings.” See

  21. Hi Wil. I was just looking at this recipe again since I hope to make this soup sometime this week. I was wondering, do you eat fish at all? I know that you are mainly vegetarian, but I was just curious to know how far that extends. Thanks again for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

  22. Thanks for a delicious (and easy!) vegetarian recipe! I’m not so great at the “winging it” myself and once it gets more than a handful of ingredients I start zoning out. Luckily black beans, tomatoes, onions & those spices are staples in my house so I only had to grab the peppers & lime! Tasty soup on a rainy day… Thanks again!!!

  23. For last night’s Meatless Monday dinner, I paired your (winged? Wanged? Wunged?) soup with a side item from a cookbook by a very well-known chef. You kicked that chef’s ass! I’ll definately be making this soup again. Nice going Wil!

  24. Delicious! I diced some carrots and sauteed them with the onion, and just a squirt of some agave nectar! Topped with some diced avocado. NOM NOM!

  25. I also agree, I think it would be awesome for you to learn more kitchen skills and then published a cookbook (Nomming Barefoot? The Happiest Foods In Mah Belleh? Title can come later). I think your blog/writing style mixed with writing a cookbook would be pretty fun to both read and use.
    Plus you can tell us which beers to pair stuff with too!

  26. Finally made the soup. Didn’t have chilies and ran out of cumin but made it anyway. Let it sit for a few days because I was too nervous to eat it because it didn’t taste that great after I cooked it. I can honestly say, this is the best black bean soup I’ve ever had. Next time I’ll have to try it hot. Thanks Wil!

  27. I realize you posted this a week ago, but I’m woefully behind on reading blogs, and was looking for something new to do with black beans…I use them in chili all the time, but chili and soup are NOT the same thing.
    Next rainy day, I’m SO making this. (And I’m wondering if Hatch chiles would work in place of chipotles.)

Comments are closed.