This hearty chicken and black bean soup is easy to make, affordable and nutritious. Earthy black beans simmer together in coriander- and oregano-infused broth along with tomatoes, poblano chilies, and plenty of chicken. Together they make a simple, delicious supper or lunch.
What is it?
Black bean soup is traditionally prepared with black beans, broth, and various aromatics or spices. Variations, such as this chicken and black bean soup, often include other ingredients and many versions include fresh or dried chilis as well as tomatoes.
It's both easy and affordable to make, and usually cooks up quickly either using canned black beans or dry beans that you've prepared in advance. It also freezes well, meaning that you can make a large batch and then tuck it in the freezer for when you might be too busy to cook.
What's in it?
The ingredients for this black bean chicken soup are simple. Beans and chicken make up the bulk of the soup, while tomatoes, aromatics, hot peppers, and spices give the soup its flavor. In addition to these ingredients, broth and olive oil help round out the soup. You may have most of these ingredients in your pantry already, and you can easily find them in most well-stocked grocery stores, too.
- Black beans form the foundation of the soup, providing substance as well as a good dose of both protein and fiber. Keep in mind that organic black beans tend to be more nutrient-dense than conventionally grown, as their higher in key antioxidants (1). You can use either dried beans that you've cooked from scratch or canned black beans, depending on your preferences.
- Chicken gives the soup a little interest and a good dose of protein, too. The recipe calls for chicken breasts; however, chicken thighs are a fine substitute and tend to be more affordable, too.
- Aromatics such as onion and garlic give the soup good flavor, lending a bit of sweetness and depth. Both are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds associated with good health (2).
- Poblano peppers lend a southwestern feel to the soup, and you can find them in most supermarkets. They have a mild heat, and you could easily add a few diced serrano or jalapeño peppers if you prefer.
- Herbs and spices, such as coriander and oregano add a vibrant component to the soup. Both of these herbs have citrus-like elements that bring a sense of brightness to the otherwise earthy flavor of black beans.
This black bean and chicken soup recipe is both easy to make and forgiving. You cook everything in a single pot, and it's ready to go in less than an hour with just occasional stirring. However, there are a few tips you'll want to keep in mind when making the soup.
- Trim the chicken of any tough bits of sinew or extraneous fat. While these parts are nutritious, they may not have enough time in the soup pot to render out, meaning that the texture of the chicken could be tough or gristly if you leave them on.
- Add the garlic along with the other spices, midway through cooking. Garlic has a tendency to burn, so adding it in the middle of cooking right before you add the liquid minimizes any chance it might overcook when you're not looking.
- Use a protein-rich bone broth. Bone broth is rich in gelatin, and it helps your body make better use of protein from other sources (such as beans).
- If you're using dried beans, remember to soak them the night before and cook them in advance so that they're ready when you need them.
- It's easy to customize the recipe depending on what you happen to like. You can add hotter chilies, such as Scotch bonnets in addition to the poblanos called for in the recipe itself.
What to serve with Black Bean Chicken Soup
Hearty enough to serve as a meal on its own, all the soup really needs is a light salad or cornbread to accompany it.
Serve the soup with plenty of toppings. Sour cream, tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, and avocado can help fill out the meal and add interest to the meal.
This Bell Pepper Salad is sweet with bright notes of citrus, and red onion. You could enhance the pairing even more by swapping parsley in the salad for fresh cilantro.
Add corn. Fresh or frozen sweet corn makes a nice complement to the soup, and you can add it about the same time that you add the cooked black beans.
Swap chicken thighs for breasts as they tend to be both more affordable and flavorful. Because they contain a higher amount of visible fat, you'll need to either cut the extra fat away or make sure it renders fully in the pan before adding the liquid ingredients. Otherwise, the texture of the chicken could be off-putting.
Use leftover cooked chicken in place of chicken breasts. This could be the extra meat leftover from making chicken broth or the leftover roast chicken. If you're using leftover meat, add about ¾ pound instead of 1 full pan as fresh chicken has a higher water content.
Try a different bean. If you don't care for black beans or don't have any in the pantry, you can substitute an equal amount of any other bean. Kidney beans also work well in this recipe.
Try it in the slow cooker. You can add all the ingredients together and cook it in a slow cooker. This slow cooker chicken soup is another good option if you're looking for a low-effort recipe with big rewards.
You can keep any leftover black bean chicken soup in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
This soup freezes like a champ. Store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container, allowing at least 2 inches of headspace. Freeze for up to 6 months.
This soup recipe calls for 3 cups of cooked black beans, or about the amount you would find in 2 (15-ounce) cans. If using canned beans, make sure to drain and rinse them well before adding them to the soup.
Yes, you can use dried black beans and cook them yourself. One cup of dried beans will yield about 3 cups of cooked beans (the amount needed in this recipe).
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- Barreto, Nathália M B et al. “Organic Black Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) from Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil, Present More Phenolic Compounds and Better Nutritional Profile Than Nonorganic.” Foods (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 10,4 900. 19 Apr. 2021.
- Zeng, Yawen et al. “Therapeutic Role of Functional Components in Alliums for Preventive Chronic Disease in Human Being.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2017 (2017).