Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup

Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Cook: 6 hours
This slow cooker black bean soup may be the most effortless way to put those wonderful flavors on your table. It takes just 15 minutes' prep, and takes care of itself from there.

Updated: Jun. 13, 2024

Black bean soup is a hearty crowd-pleaser and this slow cooker black bean soup is an especially convenient way to enjoy it whenever you want. Ordinarily, it cooks on the stovetop and needs regular attention but it’s much more practical to let it take care of itself in the slow cooker all day.

So if you’ve never made black bean soup in a slow cooker, prepare to be wowed. It may sound odd to speak of a slow-cooker recipe as “quick,” but it’s true. The hands-on part takes only 15 minutes, and from there the soup comes together without any further help from you. What could be better? And hey, if this recipe makes a believer of you, we have scores of other easy slow cooker soups.

Ingredients for Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup

  • Black beans: Beans of any kind are a fine soup ingredient, but black beans have a meatier, more savory flavor than most.
  • Onion: Onions’ savoriness complements the taste of the soup’s other flavorings, and helps bring them all together in harmony.
  • Sweet red pepper: Sweet peppers bring a bright, fresh vegetal note to the soup.
  • Garlic: Garlic’s distinctively pungent flavor stands up to the other savory elements in the soup, and gives it character.
  • Cumin: Cumin’s earthiness grounds the other flavors, acting as the “bass note” that underpins the rest.
  • Vegetable broth: Using a prepared broth saves you several steps when you’re getting the soup ready to go. Choosing vegetable broth means the finished soup is also vegetarian and vegan-friendly.
  • Olive oil: Olive oil works just as well in this role as any other cooking oil, and it’s healthier than most.
  • Corn: The brightly-colored kernels of corn make a high-contrast garnish in the dark soup, and they add both sweetness and a textural contrast.
  • Cilantro: Cilantro’s fresh herbal notes brighten the soup’s flavor, and like the corn, it’s an attractively high-contrast garnish for the dark-colored soup.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the soup

Combine the beans, onion, sweet pepper, garlic, cumin and vegetable broth in a 3-quart slow cooker. Cook on low for six to eight hours, covered, until the vegetables are soft.

Editor’s tip: Don’t check or stir the soup until nearly the end of this cooking time. Lifting the lid lowers the temperature in your slow cooker, and your soup will take longer to cook as a result.

Step 2: Puree the soup

Puree the soup right in the slow cooker using an immersion blender. Alternatively, let the soup cool slightly and puree it in small batches in a conventional blender, then return the pureed soup to the slow cooker.

Editor’s Tip: If you use the blender method, the soup may need extra time in the slow cooker to return to serving temperature.

Step 3: Garnish and serve the soup

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the corn and saute it for four to six minutes until it’s golden brown. Shake or grind a sprinkle of black pepper over the soup, then garnish it with the corn and cilantro.

Variations on the Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup Recipe

  • Up the protein: Swapping the vegetable broth for chicken broth, and adding shredded rotisserie chicken (or leftover chicken) upgrades what was already a sturdy soup into a genuine meal, especially if it’s garnished with toasted tortilla strips. Shredded slow-cooked beef or pork work just as well, if that’s what you have.
  • Go over the top with toppings: The base recipe takes a restrained approach to toppings and garnishes, using just corn and cilantro. If restraint isn’t your hallmark in the kitchen, this black bean soup makes a fine base for whatever add-ins your heart desires. Consider options like strips of roasted peppers (sweet red, poblano, shishito, Hatch), salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, your choice of hot pepper sauces, or wedges of fresh lime.
  • Don’t puree the soup: Black bean soup is ordinarily served pureed, with the beans’ starches and fiber thickening the broth to a hearty consistency. It’s very good that way, but you can also skip the blender and serve it with the beans and vegetables intact. It’s equally good, just a different texture.

How to Store Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup

How should I store my slow cooker black bean soup?

If you have leftover soup, transfer it to a food-safe storage container as soon as the meal is over and pop it into your fridge. Once it’s cool, snap the container’s lid into place. Alternatively, you could transfer the soup to a bowl or baking dish of the right size, refrigerate it until it’s cool, and then cover.

How long does slow-cooker black bean soup keep?

Like most leftovers, this soup keeps well for three to five days in your refrigerator. The sooner it’s refrigerated after cooking, the longer it keeps.

Can I freeze this slow-cooker black bean soup recipe?

Yes, this soup freezes and thaws well. Prepare the soup through Step 2, then divide it into individual or family-sized portions and freeze it in air-tight storage containers or zipper-seal bags. When you want soup in a hurry, pull the correct number of portions from your freezer, reheat it, and then add the corn and cilantro garnishes (or whichever other garnishes you choose).

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup Recipe Tips

It seems thin, did I do something wrong?

No, this recipe is thinner than many others by design. It’s still hearty, just not quite as thick as you might be used to. If you want that thicker texture, just increase the number of beans (another 1/2 to 3/4 can do the trick).

Can I use dried black beans instead?

You certainly can use dried black beans if that’s what you prefer (or what you have in the pantry right now!). You’ll need about 1-1/2 cups of black beans, and at least one more can of broth. Start the beans in your slow cooker overnight and then pick up the recipe at Step 1 the next morning by adding the vegetables and flavorings. If the broth in your slow cooker isn’t enough to cover the beans, add more broth or water until they’re submerged.

I don’t have black beans, can I use something else?

Most other beans don’t taste quite as meaty and savory as black beans, but you can definitely substitute an equal quantity of other beans and still end up with a delicious soup. The flavors used in this recipe work just as well with any other bean. Keep in mind that your finished soup won’t have the distinctively dark color you’d get with black beans.

Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup

Prep Time 15 min
Yield 8 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • Dash pepper
  • Minced fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. In a 3-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 6 ingredients. Cook, covered, on low 6-8 hours or until vegetables are softened.
  2. Puree soup using an immersion blender. Or, cool soup slightly and puree in batches in a blender. Return to slow cooker and heat through.
  3. In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add corn; cook and stir until golden brown, 4-6 minutes. Sprinkle soup with pepper. Garnish with corn and cilantro.

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup: 117 calories, 1g fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 616mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (3g sugars, 5g fiber), 6g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1-1/2 starch.

Life can get really crazy with young children, but I never want to compromise when it comes to cooking. This recipe is healthy and so easy, thanks to the slow cooker! —Angela Lemoine, Howell, New Jersey