I’m a big believer in summer soups, because there are always chilly days, even in August, and certainly when summer begins to wane in September. In northern Europe you’re guaranteed at least one day in the low teens in summer. So, use some of the fabulous seasonal produce in a soup.
With a refreshing mix of fresh red pepper, zucchini, and pantry staples like black beans and canned tomatoes, this spicy black bean soup is just right for weeknight dinners. Even if the weather isn’t so warm I still want a summery meal, and that means short cooking times.
Try serving this with some zucchini cornbread for a cozy dinner, sitting outside if you can! We have to take advantage of the longer daylight hours while they last.
- Onion: small, about a tennis ball in size. Yellow or red.
- Carrots: scrubbed is fine, they don’t need to peeled unless really necessary.
- Sweet Pepper: preferably red, for the best taste, but orange or yellow work too.
- Zucchini: courgette – a yellow disc type is pictured, but any variety can be used.
- Eggplant: aubergine – small. If it’s quite large, scoop out the seedy innards before using.
- Garlic: three cloves.
- Hot Pepper: fresh, as pictured, or dried seeds or powder.
- Spices: cumin, paprika, black pepper, and sea salt.
- Canned Tomatoes: or fresh (see below) if preferred. Diced or whole but not puree.
- Water or Vegetable Broth: you can get away with water here as it’s such a flavourful soup.
- Black Beans: cooked or canned. If using canned, rinse them very well before adding.
- Toppings: pickled onion, lime, and parsley or cilantro.
Step by Step
Notes and Substitutions
Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Corn or even new potatoes or sweet potato would all be good here – just add a little more simmering time if using potatoes. You can switch out the black beans for kidney beans.
Fresh tomatoes are an excellent substitution for canned. Weigh them if possible, or use 2-3 medium sized tomatoes.
If you’re very sensitive to spice (but making a spicy black bean soup) the hot pepper can be reduced. Use half a pepper, or scrape the seeds and pith (the white part) out before chopping.
Without toppings, the soup freezes well in airtight containers for about three months. Apart from pickled onions, avocado or a vegan yogurt or sour cream are great additions to top the soup.
More Summer Dinner Ideas
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End of Summer Spicy Black Bean Soup
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 medium carrots halved lengthwise and sliced
- 1 large sweet pepper diced
- 1 medium zucchini diced
- 1 small eggplant diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 hot pepper finely diced (to taste)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- 400 grams canned tomatoes
- 1 litre 4 cups vegetable broth or water
- 500 grams cooked or canned black beans, rinsed well
- Toppings: pickled onions lime juice, and parsley or cilantro
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Once hot, add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant and translucent.
- Add the carrots and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the sweet pepper, zucchini, and eggplant, and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, hot pepper, cumin, black pepper, salt, and paprika. Cook another minute or so.
- Add the tomatoes, broth or water, and black beans. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, reducing the heat to low if necessary.
- Taste and season if needed. Serve topped with pickled onions, a squeeze of lime, and a small handful of parsley or cilantro. Leftovers will keep for up to three days in the refrigerator and freeze for up to three months.
This post was first published in June 2014. It has been updated with significant improvements to the text and recipe as of September 2021.