The other morning, I got up at 5:45 to get ready for work, just like any other day. And like any other day, I packed my lunch and made breakfast. But I also completely made dinner BEFORE work- by mixing just a few ingredients in my Crockpot- in just FIVE MINUTES.
Behold: the amazing, the wondrous – not to mention healthy, delicious, and hearty – Smoky Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup!
As I was making this recipe, I realized something: I cook with a LOT of smoked paprika. On chicken, in chili, in enchiladas… smoked paprika is definitely a pantry staple and potentially the most used spice in my kitchen, aside from salt and pepper. What I love about it is its ability to add a smoky, meaty flavor to a vegetarian dish. Yes, this soup also has bacon in it (because… well, do I really need a reason why? It’s bacon. That’s enough.), which also contributes to the smoky flavor, but you can also easily make a vegetarian/vegan version of this soup without sacrificing too much flavor by omitting the bacon, using vegetable stock instead of chicken, and adding a bit more smoked paprika for more of a flavor punch. Do yourself a favor and if you don’t have any, buy some.
I cannot tell you how happy I was to come home at 6:30- yes, more than 12 hours later- and have dinner ready to go. The smell of the house was incredible. All I had to do when I got home was mash the beans with a potato masher and stir in some fresh cilantro. Done!
While I’m on the subject: I know my recipe below says to cook the soup on high for 4 hours or low for 8. However, my work day is more like ten hours, plus commute time. At first, I wasn’t sure if my slow cooker would cook something properly if I left it on for more than 8 hours, especially since cooking in a regular oven requires such precision with timing. But I went ahead and tried it with multiple recipes before this one, and have found that as long as you are cooking on low, adding a few more hours to the required 8 does not ruin the dish. It comes out perfect. Another beautiful perk about using a slow cooker– precise timing is not necessary!
Recipe below. Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
- Slow Cooker
- 1 lb. dry black beans soaked, drained, and rinsed (see notes)
- 1 bell pepper any color, seeded and diced
- 1 onion diced
- 2 ribs celery finely chopped, plus the leaves if available
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon cut into small pieces
- 4 cups chicken stock/broth
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus more if needed
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- juice of one lime
- crumbled cotija cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream, chopped red or green onions, hot sauce, or other fixings for serving (optional)
- Stir together all ingredients except for cilantro and lime juice together in a large slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
- Use a potato masher to mash the beans in the soup to thicken to desired consistency.
- Stir in fresh cilantro and lime juice.
- Serve with optional fixings.
- To soak the beans: cover the dry black beans with at least 2 inches of water in a container and allow to soak for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours in your fridge. Drain in a colander and rinse off with water before adding to the crockpot.
- To make this vegan/vegetarian, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and omit the bacon. Add more smoked paprika for more smoky flavor.
- Freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Refrigerate for about 5 days.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.