Black Bean Soup with Orange-Jalapeno Salsa

  • Yield: 6 servings
  • Cook: 30 mins

“I developed this black bean soup so that it will satisfy those who prefer mild dishes (including kids) as well as those of us who prefer a bolder spice. The main soup is very straightforward, and on the side, we have a bright and intense orange and jalapeno salsa. You can also pass grated cheddar cheese for those who would prefer to think of it as vegetarian chile. You can puree the soup with a stick blender, blender or potato masher.”—Michael Natkin


6cups cooked black beans, cooking liquid reserved, or 4 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
-- Vegetable broth powder (gluten-free if you need it; optional)
2-- bay leaves
3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-- white onion, diced
1-- yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
4-- garlic cloves, minced
-- Kosher salt
1tablespoon dried oregano
1teaspoon ground cumin
1teaspoon (or more) smoked paprika, optional
6-- fresh mandarin oranges (or fewer, larger oranges)
1/4cup finedly diced red onion
1-- (or more) jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
-- Kosher salt
1-- handful cilantro leaves
To serve:
-- Mexican crema or sour cream (for vegan, use vegan sour cream or avocado slices)


  1. To prepare the soup: Put the beans and bay leaves in a 6-quart pot. Add enough reserved cooking liquid, or water (with a little vegetable broth powder if you wish) to barely cover the beans. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a big pinch of salt, and sauté until the vegetables are starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the oregano, cumin, and smoked paprika and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
  3. Pluck the bay leaves out of the beans. Stir the onion mixture into the simmering beans.
  4. Remove the soup from the heat and lightly puree, leaving some texture. Return to the heat. Add more water as needed to produce a thick soup, but thinner than a stew consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. It will almost certainly need salt unless you used pre-salted canned beans. You may also find you want more cumin or smoked paprika. Simmer for at least 10 to15 minutes for the flavors to develop and marry. 
  5. To prepare the salsa: Cut the oranges into supremes and then cut those into cubes. Mix with the red onion, jalapeno, and 1Ž4 teaspoon kosher salt. Taste and adjust seasoning. Immediately before serving, stir in the cilantro.
  6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and either garnish with approximately 3 tablespoons of the salsa and some crema, or pass the salsa and crema at the table. 
Reprinted with permission from Michael Natkin’s Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes (The Harvard Common Press, 2012).