Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Hoophouses for Health suggested this recipe, highlighting that Michigan is a large producer of dried black beans. You may still have the garlic, celery, onions and carrots from recent visits to the farmers market. If you are looking for a meal that cooks itself, maybe after several days of more labor intensive meals, give this a try.
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time

Total Cost: $4.81
Cost Per Serving: $0.80
Serves: 6 (1.5 cups each)
Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 medium onion $0.41
  • 2 stalks celery $0.33
  • 2 medium carrots $0.28
  • 1 lb. uncooked black beans $1.75
  • 1 cup salsa $0.85
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder* $0.30
  • ½ Tbsp cumin $0.15
  • 1 tsp oregano $0.05
  • 4 cups vegetable broth $0.53
  • 2 cups water $0.00
Instructions
  1. Mince the garlic, dice the onion and celery, and grate the carrots on a large holed cheese grater. Rinse the black beans in a colander under cool running water and pick out any stones or debris.
  2. Combine the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, black beans, salsa, chili powder, cumin, oregano, vegetable broth, and water in a 5-7 quart slow cooker. Stir well.
  3. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 6-8 hours (you want the beans to get VERY soft). Once the beans are very soft, use an immersion blender** to blend the soup until it is thick and creamy (leave some beans whole if desired). Taste the soup and add salt if needed (this will depend on the brand of vegetable broth used).
Notes
*Chili powder is a blend of mild red chiles and other spices. It is not cayenne pepper, which is extremely spicy.**If you do not have an immersion blender, wait until the soup cools some and then use a blender to purée the soup in batches. Make sure to never blend hot liquids as they can build pressure in the blender and explode, causing severe burns.

Rinse BeansRinse the dry beans under cool water to remove any dust and dirt. If there are any pebbles or other debris, pick them out.

Black Bean Soup IngredientsAdd the beans to a 5-7 quart slow cooker along with 2 cloves of minced garlic, one onion (diced), 2 stalks celery (diced), 2 carrots (grated on a large holed cheese grater), 1 cup salsa, 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1/2 Tbsp cumin, and 1 tsp oregano. Add to that 4 cups of vegetable broth and 2 cups of water. Stir well, place the lid on top, and let it cook on high for 6-8 hours (the goal is VERY soft beans). 

Cooked Black Bean SoupAfter 6 hours on high (it can go 8 hours if needed), the beans will be soft and floating around in a bunch of liquid. You want this to be a thick soup, so you’ll need to purée some of the beans (or all if you want it to be a super smooth soup). The easiest way is to use an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one, it can be done with a regular blender. If using a regular blender, let the soup cool until it’s no longer hot (warm is okay). blend about half of the soup in batches for a slightly chunky soup, or all of the soup for a smooth soup. When blending warm liquids it’s always a good idea to throw a towel over the top of the closed blender to catch any spray if it does build pressure and burst out the top. Never, NEVER, blend hot liquids. (speaking from experience).

Blended Black Bean SoupI blended about half of my soup and left some beans whole for texture. Blending the beans also thickens up the soup considerably. Once it’s blended, give it a taste and see if you need to add salt. I used Better Than Bouillon soup base for my vegetable broth, which tends to be on the salty side, so I didn’t need to add any. If you’re using a low sodium broth, you’ll probably need to add a pinch to make the flavors pop.