Want to help improve my ridiculous black bean soup recipe?

I have to admit, I’m not terribly picky about black bean soup…I love black beans so much that I’ve been pretty easy to please. So my super-secret super-easy recipe is as follows:
A few cans of black beans
A can of broth (or homemade, if I have it). More as needed.
Chopped onions and maybe a few carrots
Salsa–about 1/2 jar to every 2 cans of beans
Diced chicken or sausage, or both

It’s good, and I can’t complain…super-easy, and tasty as well. I like my soup beany and don’t want to blend or mash the beans. Otherwise, I’m open to suggestions.
Any ideas to make it nicer?

you like garlic? add tomatoes and garlic, and maybe chopped celery in the end just before you turn off the heat.

Very similar to my recipe, papergirl, but I also add chili powder and a few tablespoons of chopped jalapenos or a can of green chilis, and sprinkle with mexi-cheese at serving time. The vinegar in the peppers brightens the flavor, and the dairy cheese or vegan cheese makes it a bit richer. Actually, I bought a can of Amy’s Black Bean soup years ago, and I’ve been riffing off her recipe for years.

Oh, and corn! Some whole kernal corn is a great touch of sweetness.

Mmmm, garlic. I loves me some garlic.
Good suggestions so far, and not too worky. Just what I like in a recipe!

You might try adding some ground cumin, too.

Use dried beans. Vastly superior to canned and well worth the extra time.

+1 - and a lot cheaper too.

This. And if we’re talking black beans, it’s not even all that much more time to cook; black beans generally cook from dry in an hour and a half or so, without soaking or pre-cooking.

Aside from that, my thoughts are:

  • Bacon or other smoked meats
  • Toppings: black bean soup calls for yumyums on top. Mix and match cilantro (if you like it), diced onions, diced tomatoes, diced hot chiles, cheese, plain yogurt or sour cream, bacon bits, corn kernels, hot sauce. Heck, whatever you have lying around in the fridge.

actually, i prefer black-eyed brown beans with pork hocks (or maybe the spine) with lots of garlic and tomatoes.

Add some heat. An easy way is the hot version of canned diced green chiles.

Sriracha is the perfect sauce for black bean soup. You get the heat and the garlic. Use it liberally and top with sour cream to cut the heat.

I like some textural differences with my beans. Corn tortilla strips do this nicely.

Are you coming on to me?

This AGAIN. Plus you really do need some sort of smoked pork. Sour cream is great, cheese is great, but you need the ham or ham hocks or bacon.

Also, corn muffins. Can’t have beans without some sort of corn, and I think that muffins are best, followed by tortilla chips or Fritos. Warm corn tortillas with butter are also good, but corn muffins are the very best.

You know, I tried to make dried black beans once. I cooked the damn things for DAYS and they never softened enough to be palatable, and I’ve been afraid to try it again. :slight_smile: But maybe I’ll pick some up next shopping trip and try it again.
I do have ham and bacon…I have a strong belief that bacon improves anything, so maybe I’ll add some of that as well.
There’s a local restaurant that always serves crusty (white) bread with butter with their black bean soup. I’ve never even thought about corn bread, but again…I do love some corn bread. (Realizing there is not much I don’t love, at this point.)
Sounds great so far. I can’t wait to cook now!

That happens sometimes.

The most common culprits:

  • Old and/or badly grown beans. Try to buy your beans from a place that goes through them quickly - Mexican/Hispanic markets are good for that, and even if you don’t have a Mexican market, I tend to have good luck with Mexican brands in my own (very much NOT Mexican) grocery store.

  • Hard water: High calcium levels will prevent beans from ever softening. If you suspect you have hard water, try cooking the beans in distilled water.

Try building the base, simply reduce the salcion, before adding the broth amd beans. Start the chicken in onions, garlic, and mild green chiles, in some oil as a carrier. Add the wetter ingredients like the salsa and beans, after you have reduced and developed some “dry” caramelization and a flavor base. Got some cominos, chile powder, or chili powder?

Another thing is to make sure you don’t add any acid to the beans (tomatoes, lime juice, salsa etc.) until after they’ve softened.

I am, right this moment, doing a quick soak on 2 pounds of dry black beans. I’m going to try them from scratch. (Luckily I have about 10 cans in the pantry in case I need backup.)
I also went to the store to buy a hamhock, whereupon I realized that I don’t even know what a hamhock is, much less what it looks like. I finally asked the butcher and told him some of my friends said I MUST have a hamhock. He nodded knowingly and said, “Welp, okay. There ya go, then,” so I’m guessing he must have agreed.
Then I’m going to add sausage and the ham from the hock and maybe chicken depending on what I have in the freezer. I’m going to use the techniques devilsknew recommends–that’s what I did for the West African chicken stew I made last week and it was niiiiice. Got some green chiles (mild ones, 'cause I’m a weenie) per several suggestions, and cumin because I have some and I’m in love with it.
Lamar, I don’t know what sriracha is. But it sounds sexy and I’ll research it and find some, just to say I have it. :slight_smile:
Toppings optional. I have all of the ones mentioned, but I like mine plain. Weird, I know.
Thanks for all the suggestions…will let you know how it turns out, and of course everyone will have to come by and try a bowl.

Hot sauce in a squeeze bottle, typically found in Vietnamese restaurants:

Can be found in the “Oriental Foods” aisle of the supermarket, or pretty much any store in whatever passes for the local Chinatown.