Black Bean Soup

We had the pleasure of eating at Panera a few times in December and through the holidays with family and friends.  I kept ordering their Black Bean Soup.  Perhaps because it warmed my tummy. Perhaps because it went great with a salad.

But something was amiss.  I loved the consistency, the warmth, but it lacked ZEST.  I *big puffy heart* Panera.  I do.

But I prefer a little zest in my black bean soup!

Since we are in the middle of the #pantry challenge, I thought I’d use up some of my free cans of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies…adding it to Panera’s Black Bean Soup recipe that I found on Recipezaar.

Giving the soup just the kick I think it deserves!

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Zesty Black Bean Soup

Yield – 4 servings

Preparation Time – 10 minutes

Cooking Time – 90 minutes


  • 2 cups dried black beans, soaked ($.80)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped ($.40)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed ($.10)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin ($.05)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice ($.10)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of homemade chicken stock (free) (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian meal)
  • 1 10 oz. can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained (free)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch ($.10)
  • Homemade rolls, about half a batch ($.48)
  • 12 oz. bag of frozen peas ($.67)


***I made this a little differently than the recipe suggests because I prefer cooking with dried beans. Cheaper that way! If you plan to use canned beans, follow the directions in the recipe and substitute the Rotel for the red peppers and celery.

  • Soak black beans overnight in a bowl full of water. If you forget to soak, as I often do, then add the beans to boiling water, remove from heat and let soak for 2 hours. Once soaked, drain and rinse. More on cooking dried beans here.
  • Add the soaked and rinsed beans to large saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Add the chopped onion, crushed garlic, cumin, lemon juice, and salt in with the beans.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for about an hour.
  • After an hour, add the homemade chicken stock and the undrained can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies. Let the soup simmer for another 30 minutes, or until the beans have softened.
  • Then add the cornstarch.

  • Best way to add cornstarch…

  • Sift and whisk at the same time to keep from getting clumpy in the soup!
  • Really this should be #1! Start the dough before you start the soup! Make homemade wheat rolls. Recipe in the cookbook!

  • Cook frozen peas as directed on package.
  • Serve Zestified Black Bean Soup with Homemade Rolls and Peas.

Cost $2.70

Little by little, there is some more space opening up in the freezers and pantry.

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  1. says

    I guess we both had beans on the brain! I love that beans are so healthy and so cheap, when people tell me you can’t eat healthy for less, I always ask them if they like beans! I am always amazed at how far they stretch and how little they cost. So filling too!

  2. says

    I eat the black bean soup at Panera’s all the time too. What I love is that their U Pick 2 can be really healthy and low-cal/low-fat. I get the black bean soup, the classic cafe salad, and either the whole grain baguette or an apple, depending on my mood. I’m doing Weight Watchers and this meal is VERY good for the plan!

  3. says

    I am always in love with black bean soup. Love that you added Rotel! Yum! And by the way, I saw your book on the shelf at Albertson’s yesterday! Way to go!

  4. says

    Oops! My first post had the wrong title….now I left 2 of the same recipe, when I tried to fix it. Sorry about that! Anyway, I love your idea of how to add corn starch to a recipe….never thought of that, but wow, it makes sense! Thank you for all of your great ideas! :)

  5. says

    First time posting to your $5 Challenge, love this idea! We have started a $10 or less challenge this year, so I loved finding your blog. I forgot to put in the name of the recipe: Deluxe Turkey Burgers and Baked Carrot Fries, next to my name, sorry! This is an extra special blog entry because my guest blogger was my daughter. Nothing better than cooking in the kitchen with your kids. Look forward to reading back through all of your great recipe ideas.

  6. Faith says

    I made this soup using dry black beans, more garlic, diced (canned) tomatoes and beef buillion & water (didn’t have ANY stock) and leftover Thanksgiving ham (chopped) from the freezer. Tt was DELICIOUS. EXCELLENT. FANTASTIC! Even hubby raved – best black bean soup he’s had in a longgggggg time if not ever! (We don’t have Panera around here!) I’ve been wanting to make homemade black bean soup for a while now but didn’t have a good recipe to try – until I saw it on your blog this week. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! (And hubby thanks you too!) It was quick, easy, healthy and filling – and cheap! I felt like a good wife & mommy that day! :) Thanks again!! Love your blog!

  7. says

    Just made this soup and it was awesome! I love the spicy kick at the end when you take a bite! We had whole wheat tortilla cheese crisps with it!
    So good, thank you!!

  8. Liz says

    I make black bean soup all the time! I’m lazy and like to use very few ingredients!
    I use:
    1 can salsa from the dollar store
    2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed (from the dollar store-65 cents each).
    2 cups chicken broth

    Heat the salsa for 5 minutes in a sauce pan the add the other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes.
    You can put a spoon of sour cream and salsa on top if you like.

  9. Sarah says

    You’re 100% right; it DOES lack zest. I work there, and I wish we offered it with a salsa/sour cream. We do have a black bean salsa blend for our BBQ Chopped Chicken Salad, and I’m now considering mixing them together…


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