amy chaplin

celebrating the art of eating well

Spicy black bean and squash soup

POSTED ON March 16, 2011

soup with tortilla, guacamole and pickled red cabbage

Many variations of this soup have passed through my kitchen this winter and I have loved each and every one. When I’m in the mood for a stew, I cut down on the liquid, cut the squash in larger chunks and stir them in at the end. Last fall I replaced some of the water with pureed tomatillos which gave the dish a delicious, tangy layer of flavor.

This soup is warming and creamy: sweet from the squash, fragrant from the herbs and spices and has enough kick to wake up your taste buds. I guess you all know that I love beans and their many, unique healing properties. With this soup I am not only soothed by the lovely texture but also by knowing how much black beans nourish the kidneys, which is why they are helpful in healing sore lower back and knee pain (both of which are represented by the kidneys).


black turtle beans

In Chinese medicine, foods that are small and dark support healthy kidney function. All beans benefit the kidneys but black beans are particularly helpful since black is the color that represents the kidneys energetically.

Beans in general contain higher protein than eggs and most meat, and provide a great source of iron and calcium without the fat and cholesterol. They also contain isoflavones that help prevent cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.

view from above

I served this for an early dinner on a lazy Sunday evening, it was delicious eaten with guacamole, pickled cabbage and these locally made corn tortillas from Hot Bread Kitchen. (a great non profit social enterprise worth checking out!)

The guacamole and cabbage are super simple but let me know if you would like the recipe and I’ll post them!

soup and corn tortilla

prepped veggies

use a large pot, not one like this!

lovely soup


Spicy black bean and squash soup

The amount of cayenne pepper that you add at the end will depend on how spicy your jalapeno ends up being and how spicy you want to make the soup. Just be aware that the spice can increase as it simmers.

1 ½ cup black beans, soaked over night, drained, and rinsed

5 1/2 cups of water divided

2 inch strip of Kombu

4 bay leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

Sea salt

4 garlic medium cloves, minced

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

¼ cup cilantro stems, finely chopped

2 small carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

4 cups butternut squash, ¾ inch dice

1 ¼ cup cabbage, ½ inch dice

½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped, reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish

Cayenne pepper to taste

Place black beans in a pressure cooker with 3 cups of the filtered water, kombu and bay leaves. Bring up to full pressure over high heat, reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions with a pinch of salt and sauté until translucent. Stir in garlic and jalapeno, sauté for one minute more. Add cumin, oregano, and cilantro stems. Stir in carrots, celery, squash, cabbage, and remaining water.

Bring up to a boil, stir, lower heat, cover, and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes until vegetables are cooked. Pour in black beans with their cooking liquid; add cilantro leaves, salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Raise heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and soup to thicken to desired consistency.

Garnish each bowl with remaining cilantro leaves.

Serves 4 to 6 people

POSTED IN Gluten free, Soup

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  • beck says:

    Hi Amy, this looks delish! i would actually love to see how you make your pickled cabbage!!! 🙂

  • Yun Suh says:

    this looks delicious. yes, please post the guacamole and pickled cabbage recipe! thank you!

  • vogueyogini says:

    This dish looks fantastic – anything with butternut squash has my name all over it. And please post the guacamole! 🙂

  • Kylie says:

    We just ate this one, and my 4yr old boy asked for a second bowl. Bingo!

  • Laura says:

    This looks great but I’m afraid of pressure cookers (some friends spent a couple days in the hospital after an accident). How would you reccomend making this without one?

    • Amy Chaplin says:

      Sorry to hear that. You can just boil the beans until soft. Add a couple of extra cups of water as boiling will take longer and use more water.
      Will still be delicious though!

  • I’m not a huge fan of soup, but when I do have it, it has to have some “chew”. This spicy black bean soup sounds perfect for me! I’m sure the squash adds a nice textural element, and topped with guacamole? Well now I really can’t resist.

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