Easy Black Bean Soup

For dinner last night we had a super easy black bean soup.  This is one of my favorite go-to meals because it can be made ahead and just warmed up at dinner time, or thrown together at the very last minute - either way, it only takes a few minutes to make,  it's really versatile, and everybody loves it.  Another bonus:  it can be made mostly from pantry staples, so it's a great fall back if you're low on fresh ingredients, or good for making on a boat or camping trip.  And it's budget friendly - canned beans and broth are pretty inexpensive.

What you need:

  • canned beans - black or pinto, whole beans or refried beans, basically any kind will do.
  • broth - I use chicken broth, but vegetable broth would work too.
  • diced tomatoes or salsa
  • cumin
  • some basic seasonings - salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder or dried onions
  • toppings - chips, cheese, cabbage, avocado, tomatoes, diced chicken, sour cream, lime, cilantro, bacon, peppers, salsa...

Put your beans in a pot.  Don't drain them - the bean liquid adds great flavor.  Add enough broth to get the soup consistency you like.  Add a can of diced tomatoes, or a jar or can of salsa.  I use tomatoes when I'm making this with kids, since they won't eat it if it's spicy.  But if you can do the spice - then the basic formula of beans, broth and salsa gets you 90% of the way there.  If you're just using tomatoes, then I like to add a little more flavor with some onion, dry cilantro, cumin, garlic powder.  Really you can spice it up however you like.   Simmer for a little while if you have time, and that's basically it.  From there it's just add-ins and toppings.

For ours last night we had tomatoes, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, diced avocado, tomatoes, tortilla chips, and diced chicken (a great way to use the last bit of leftover roast chicken from earlier in the week).  You could put the chicken in the soup, but I left it as a topping so everyone could build their own (when I used to make this on our boat I used canned chicken).  Really you can use whatever you've got.  Or, if your fridge is bare - it's pretty great to just eat as-is.