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!
Smoky Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
- 1 lb. dry black beans presoaked and drained
- 1 red or green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 stalks celery plus the leaves finely chopped
- 2 carrots diced
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon cut into small pieces
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Cotija cheese sliced avocado, sour cream, chopped red or green onions, hot sauce, or other fixings for serving (optional)
- Stir together all ingredients besides cilantro to your slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, or until beans are tender.
- Use a potato masher to mash the beans in the soup to thicken to desired consistency.
- Stir in cilantro.
- Serve with optional fixings.
Freeze the leftovers in an airtight bag or container for up to 6 months.