Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Black bean and chicken soup

Recently, Paula and I were talking about black bean soup. I'm a fan in general but have tried many recipes that I thought were just mediocre. I've never made it in a slow cooker or with chicken so that might be why this turned out better than most of my previous attempts.

All day our house smelled great while this was cooking. I rarely cook with dried beans but this is an easy way to do it. I learned in the cooking class that I took last month that there's not a great advantage to soaking dried beans but I did and I noticed that they sucked up a lot of the water by the next morning. I also think they cooked faster that way. Because I didn't want to end up with a bag of dried beans in my cupboard, I just bought a cup in the bulk foods section at Whole Foods (for about 30 cents or something). If you want to use canned black beans, see the end of the recipe.

I put the chicken in the crock pot frozen since it was going to cook a long time and it still was a little dried out at the end so I definitely recommend blending it up a little bit. When I was dishing it up, I didn't have very high hopes but my husband and brother in law and I ate almost the whole amount that I made, along with some corn bread. If you like spicier food, add some canned or fresh jalapenos and some hot sauce (or pick hot salsa). I used medium salsa and it wasn't hot enough for our taste.

Black bean and chicken soup (4-6 servings)

1 pound chicken (I used boneless, skinless breasts)
1 cup dried black beans
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
1 16oz jar of salsa
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup sour cream
avocado and cilantro (optional)

Put the black beans in a bowl, cover with water and let them soak overnight. Drain and rinse them. Put them in the bottom of your crock pot. Put the chicken on top and add the broth, salsa, corn, and cumin. Stir a little but try to keep the beans on the bottom of the pot. Cover and cook for 5-7 hours on high or 7-9 hours on low (my beans were tender in 6 hours - might depend on your crock pot).

At this point, you can either leave it the way it is (thinner broth and chunks of chicken), stir in the sour cream and top with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro or you can thicken the broth. I used my immersible hand blender and blended up the soup until it was thick but not smooth. You can do this with a traditional blender by taking a couple of cups out, blending it, and adding it back to the pot. After the blending, stir in the sour cream and top with sliced avocado and chopped cilantro.

If you want to use canned black beans, drain and rinse them and make the recipe like it is above but reduce your cooking time to 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.


  1. Here's a good website for why to soak beans: http://missvickie.com/howto/beans/howtosoak.html. I've also recently learned that soaking whole grains is beneficial: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/03/nourishing-practices-soaking-grains-2.html

  2. Tried this tonight. My sour cream curdled! The expiration date is a ways out too. I wonder if it is because I used organic sour cream? Any thoughts?

  3. I wouldn't think that organic sour cream would make a difference - I've occasionally had it separate and get funny when I add sour cream to something hot, but it's not curdled and usually blends fine if I stir it for a little while. Sorry! Yuck.