This black bean soup has a deliciously smoky flavor thanks to smoked paprika and cumin. This quick and easy soup recipe uses mostly pantry ingredients and is ready in only 20 minutes!
Note: this post was originally published in February 2019 and updated in August 2020 with new photos and more detailed instructions.
Quick, it's almost dinnertime, what are you going to make? If you have no idea and it's been a while since you've been grocery shopping, this soup is here to save the day! It's ready in only 20 minutes and is made from almost entirely pantry ingredients!
This black bean soup is one of my favorites because not only is it quick and easy to make, it also has a lovely, thick and hearty texture along with a deep, smoky flavor. The thick texture is thanks to tomato paste, and also including the starchy liquid from the cans of beans. (Bonus - no need to drain the beans!).
The smoky flavor is from a generous amount of smoked paprika and a touch of cumin. So, this soup really has it all - it's super quick to make, full of flavor, hearty and satisfying, and can be easily made with pantry ingredients. Just add crusty bread and maybe a few toppings and you are all set with dinner!
Smoked paprika: this ingredient is really the star of the show, and it adds most of the smoky flavor to the soup. Smoked paprika can be found in "sweet" or "hot" varieties. Since this recipe calls for a lot of paprika, I definitely recommend using the "sweet" type, otherwise, the heat could become overpowering.
Stock or broth: you can use any type you have on hand - chicken, beef, veggie, etc. Or, if you're in a pinch go ahead and use water. You may just need to adjust the salt and pepper amounts at the end.
Oil: use any kind of oil you like to cook with; I used olive oil. Vegetable or canola oil would also be fine.
Step by step photos
- Saute the onion in oil.
2. Add the spices and cook for about 30 seconds to start opening up the flavor of the spices.
3. Add in the tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for another 30 seconds to soften up the tomato paste.
4. Pour in the stock and the two cans of black beans. And don't forget - don't drain the beans, you need the extra liquid!
5. Next, boil the soup gently until thickened. Once the soup is ready, give it a taste for seasoning. If it needs some more salt and pepper, go ahead and stir some in. Serve as-is or with your favorite toppings!
Tips and tricks
- Don't be afraid to add more salt and pepper at the end! The amount included in the recipe is just a jumping off point. I kept the amounts conservative because the right amount of salt you need will vary based on the brand of beans and stock you are using, plus, your own individual tastes.
- As I said earlier, the smoked paprika really is bringing most of the delicious smoky flavor to the soup. But, if you don't have any, you can still make this soup. Try substituting an equal amount of regular sweet paprika and add in an extra 1 teaspoon of cumin to help bump up the smoky flavor.
- This soup makes about 4 cups total - enough for 4 sides, or 2 - 3 main course servings. If you want to meal prep or make more for a larger group, this recipe is really easy to double or even triple!
If you want to make this soup vegan, just use a vegan vegetable broth. All the other ingredients are completely vegan. And, of course, rather than cheese or sour cream as a topping, stick with vegan toppings, like diced onion and cilantro.
Yes you can! This soup freezes well and re-heats beautifully in the microwave or warmed gently on the stovetop. If kept in an airtight container, you can keep this soup in the freezer for 2 - 3 months.
You can serve this soup either as a starter or side, or as a main course. I like to serve it with toppings to add a bit more interest. Here are some good topping ideas: a bit of extra cracked black pepper, diced onion, cilantro, hot sauce, sour cream, shredded cheese, crackers, tortilla chips, the list goes on!
If you want to make this your main course, it's nice to serve it with some warm crusty bread and a salad. That's all you need really, since the soup is so filling on its own!
You can make this thick and hearty black bean soup with basic pantry ingredients, and in only 20 minutes!
- 2 tablespoons oil (olive or vegetable)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 teaspoons sweet (non-spicy) smoked paprika (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (see notes)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 15 ounce cans black beans, undrained
- 1 ½ cups stock or broth (any kind)
- Optional garnishes: diced onion, sour cream, cilantro, squeeze of lime, shredded cheese
- Heat the oil in a stock pot or dutch oven on medium heat. When the oil is hot, add in the diced onion. Saute for 2 - 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add in the smoked paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cumin. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds or until the spices are fragrant.
- Add in the tomato paste, stir and cook for another 30 seconds or until the tomato paste has softened and mixed in thoroughly with the onion and spices.
- Add the cans of black beans, undrained, and stock to the pot. Stir to combine. Turn the heat up to bring the soup to a gentle boil. Let the soup boil gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the soup is slightly thickened. (Turn the heat down if necessary to maintain a gentle boil.) The soup will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Taste the soup and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Add your favorite toppings and enjoy!
Since this recipe uses a lot of paprika, you need to use a non-spicy (aka "sweet") variety of smoked paprika so the heat doesn't become overpowering (unless you like a TON of spice!). In my experience, most grocery store brands that don't specify sweet or hot will be sweet. But, to be sure, read the label before buying, or, if you already have some in your cabinet, taste a little before adding it to the soup.
If you don't have smoked paprika, try substituting regular paprika and add in an additional 1 teaspoon of cumin.
I ended up adding an additional ¼ teaspoon of salt and black pepper to my soup after tasting it. You may need additional salt as well, but this will depend on how much salt is in the beans and stock you are using, and your personal tastes. Just don't be afraid to taste and add more if needed!
This recipe makes a total volume of around 4 cups, which will serve 4 as a side or starter, or about 2 - 3 as an entree. If you need to serve more people, this recipe is very easy to double or even triple!
This soup freezes well and will keep for 2 - 3 months in the freezer.
Keywords: black beans, black bean soup