The Washington Post

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup 4.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Instant Pot Jan 22, 2018

Bacon, red bell pepper and jalapeño deepen the flavor of this earthy soup. The stove-top version makes a nuanced broth, while the Instant Pot version yields a somewhat starchier-tasting broth. See the VARIATION, below. Both are tasty; we noticed in testing that the yield was greater for the Instant Pot soup.

To read the accompanying story, see: Instant Pot vs. Dutch oven: Which makes better food?.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • 10 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 8 slices bacon (7 ounces total), chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth (96 ounces total)
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for optional garnish
  • Sour cream, for garnish


Cover the beans with cold water by 3 inches in a bowl and soak at room temperature at least 8 hours, or quick-soak (see the NOTE, below). Drain thoroughly.

Place the chopped bacon in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat; cook for 6 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pieces to a bowl. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the chopped bacon for garnish, then return remaining bacon to pot, over medium heat. Once it and the bacon fat is quite hot, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeño, oregano, bay leaf and thyme; cook for 5 or 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is softened.

Add the beans, broth and white pepper; partially cover and cook for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are quite tender. Discard the bay leaf and stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro.

Serve warm, topped with sour cream, more chopped cilantro, if using, and the reserved bacon.

VARIATION: To make this soup in an Instant Pot, combine the bacon, onion, bell pepper, herbs and jalapeño in it. Use the SAUTE button and set to high. Use 5 cups of broth (instead of the 12 cups listed above). Don’t soak beans overnight: Just rinse, add to other ingredients, and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally, which can take 15 to 25 minutes. If you prefer softer beans, add 5 or 6 minutes of high pressure and release manually.

NOTE To soak the beans faster, first rinse them and pick them over to remove any debris. Place the beans in a saucepan and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat; cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Cover and let sit for 1 hour, then drain and rinse.

Recipe Source

Adapted from recipes at and from the Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Ariz.

Tested by Matt Arnold and Raven Christmas.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 6): 310

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 9g 14%

Saturated Fat: 3g 15%

Cholesterol: 10mg 3%

Sodium: 320mg 13%

Total Carbohydrates: 39g 13%

Dietary Fiber: 12g 48%

Sugar: 9g

Protein: 24g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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