Black Bean Soup with Pan-Fried Plantains

My race is over, so I’m back to my normal eating habits. The last time I made lentil soup,  a friend mentioned that it reminded him of a black bean soup that I’d made years ago, but had long-since lost the recipe. I decided to try using that recipe to make a black-bean soup tonight. Since I was worked late, I decided to use canned black beans, which made this a pretty easy weeknight meal.

I followed the lentil soup recipe, just substituting canned black beans for the dry lentils (and thus simmering the soup for less time than was required for lentil soup). This isn’t a really thick soup, and you can add more black beans if you want – this version is heavy on tomatoes, and the beans play more of a supporting role. I switched out the toppings, too. I had an avocado that I needed to use, so I mixed up a batch of guacamole. I also served it with plain yogurt and chopped cilantro.

I also had a ripe plantain that I decided to pan-fry to serve on the side.

In a large dutch-oven, heat until it shimmers:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil


  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped.

Feel free to mince the garlic or to use more or less according to your own taste.  Saute, stirring, for about 1 minute being careful not to let it brown, then add:

  • 2 onions (yellow), diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (with seeds and ribs discarded – keep some seeds or ribs if you want a spicier soup)

Cook (stirring frequently) for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onions start to get a bit translucent, then add:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt

Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the red peppers are just starting to get soft (about another 5 minutes). Stir in:

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed well
  • 4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want a vegetarian soup)
  • 3 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted tomatoes for one of the cans)
  • 3/4 cup V-8 juice

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cooking uncovered until heated through. If you want a smoother soup, you can puree some of it in a blender, or in the pot using an immersion blender.

While the soup cooks, prepare the guacamole. Combine in a medium bowl, mashing with your fork to reach your desired consistency:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

For the plantains, place in a heavy-bottomed skillet:

  • 1/2 Tbsp. butter

Melt over medium heat, then add to the pan:

  • 1 very ripe plantain, peeled and sliced (the more ripe the better – mine was soft and mostly black)

Watch the plantains carefully, flipping over when browned on one side, being careful not to burn. When they are nicely browned remove from the pan.

When the soup is done, serve it topped with:

  • guacamole
  • plain yogurt (I like low-fat Greek yogurt)
  • chopped fresh cilantro
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