I am quick to rely on canned black beans for weeknight chili, veggie burgers, and our favorite huevos racheros hack, but thanks to the slow cooker I can also bust out a super flavorful, nearly foolproof, zero-prep-required smokey black bean soup using a pound of dried black beans, stock or water, and a handful of spices. If you’re either intimidated by dried beans or feel they’re not worth it, this one is for you.
Smokey Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
- 1 lb dried black beans, soaked overnight (see notes)
- 4 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 oz can diced tomatoes & green chilies*
- 1-2 teaspoons sea salt
- Optional toppings: cilantro, green onions, avocado, peppers, cooked rice/quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes
*Such as Rotel, typically located in the ethnic/Mexican foods aisle
Into the crock of your slow cooker, add the soaked and drained beans and the next 7 ingredients (through bay leaves). Do not add salt or the tomatoes, as these will prevent the beans from softening.
Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours (or HIGH for 4-5 hours), or until beans are very tender (they shouldn’t be mushy).
When beans are tender, turn slow cooker to HIGH heat setting and stir in the tomatoes. Cover and cook for another 20-30 minutes, then season with salt. The beans will be in desperate need of salt! Start with 1 teaspoon and add more to taste (I usually end up adding 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt).
Transfer about 4 cups of beans/broth to a blender and blend until very smooth. Stir back into slow cooker. You could also use an immersion blender to blend up part/all of the soup. I prefer some whole beans in this soup, but it’s totally up to you!
Serve soup as is, or top with a million different things. I listed a few ideas above.
Makes about 7 cups of soup. Serves 4.
To soak dried beans: Pick beans over for stones/debris, then pour them into a bowl and cover with cold water by 2-3 inches. Cover bowl and leave beans to soak on the counter for at least 6 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse beans well.