Quick and heart-healthy Mexican Chipotle Black Bean Soup

A heart-healthy black bean soup flavored with cumin and chipotles in adobo sauce needs no overnight soak when cooked in an electric pressure cooker.

February is American Heart Month, and I couldn't let the month end without posting a couple of my favorite heart-healthy recipes: Chipotle Black Bean Soup, Turkey Lettuce Wraps and Tuna Tostadas with Chipotle Aioli. Sponsored by Smart & Final, these recipes are low on fuss but high on flavor. 

Today, we're spotlighting my Quick Mexican Chipotle Black Bean Soup. Wednesday's post will be the Turkey Lettuce Wraps, and for Lenten Friday, I'll be sharing my spicy Tuna Tostadas with Chipotle Aioli. 

First things first, are black beans healthy?

With their high fiber, beans are a cholesterol-free, low calorie, and heart-healthy food. A high fiber diet can help reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides. The amount of fiber in beans makes them a high carbohydrate food. However, the bulk of these carbs in black beans come in the form of resistant starch. Meaning, the fiber passes through the upper digestive tract without being converted into sugar – good news for people with Type 2 diabetes as it puts black beans low on the glycemic index.

Besides fiber, black beans are nutritional powerhouses providing a fair amount of: 

  • B vitamins
  • potassium
  • folate
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • copper

The outer surface of the bean – the black part – is high in anthocyanins. Anthocyanin is the compound that makes food various shades of red and purple putting them in the same category as blueberries, red onions, red cabbage, eggplant and raspberries, to name a few. Anthocyanins contain anti-inflammatory properties and can help fight high blood pressure. 

How to (quickly) cook black beans

I have yet to meet a bean I don't love, with black beans, pintos and garbanzos being my favorites. I've been making some form of black bean soup for years and surprised myself when I looked back in my archives to realize that I've never posted a black bean soup recipe. 

When developing today's soup, I decided to forgo the overnight soak and test this recipe in my Ninja Foodi electric pressure cooker (although I don't have an Instant Pot to test this recipe, it should work in any electric pressure cooker). I've tried cooking my pinto beans in it a few times after seeing many of my blogging friends posting about making their frijoles de olla in their Instant Pots. I was disappointed. For me, the simple bean broth lacked the depth of flavor that I crave from my bowl of soupy beans, so I continue to cook mine low and slow in my clay bean pot on my stovetop.

Because I was adapting my black bean soup recipe that's chock-full of seasonings and not just cooking plain beans in the Foodi, I was hopeful that I could lock in some of the added flavors. 

I was so right. These Mexican-inspired black beans are muy delicioso. The cumin and chipotle are front and center, balancing out the earthy creaminess of the black beans. 

To salt early or after, that is the question

I know many people don't subscribe to adding salt before cooking because they'll never cook or result in a tough bean. According to an extensive cooking test performed by the editors at Epicurious involving 12 batches of beans, they debunked this salt myth. Their conclusion is to salt early and taste the broth along the way, adjusting the seasoning, adding more if needed.

Why you should be adding baking soda when cooking beans

I also like to add a little bit of baking soda to the bean cooking water (and to the water if I soak overnight to help reduce gassiness). 

Cook's Illustrated performed a side-by-side test of beans with baking soda, without and some with added acidity. They found that adding the baking soda created an alkaline environment that produced creamier, more tender beans in less time than the other two methods. The results indicated that baking soda helps the beans cook faster by breaking down the pectin in the skin, allowing water to penetrate the bean more quickly. 

With the addition of the salt and the baking soda, after 40 minutes, my electric pressure cooker produced a creamy black bean that easily flattened when gently pressed between my fingers. 

How to make Chipotle Black Bean Soup in a Ninja Foodi

I started by picking through a one-pound bag of First Street* black beans. Picking through beans is a must to ensure no pebbles – you don't want anyone chipping a tooth on one. My bag contained none, but I'm very picky and always remove beans that are shriveled or broken.  

After rinsing the beans well, I added them to the inner pot of my Ninja Foodi. I also added half a white onion, two chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, coarse sea salt, plenty of ground cumin, ground allspice, ground clove, a couple of garlic cloves, and 6 cups of water and some baking soda.

I set the pressure cooker to high for 40 minutes. When the timer went off, I let the machine naturally release for 20 minutes before doing a quick release for the remaining pressure. I transferred the onion, chipotle peppers, and garlic to a blender along with 1½ cups of beans and ½ cup of the cooking liquid, blending until smooth. I poured the puree back into the pot and stirred to incorporate. 

Garnishing personalizes every bowl

This Mexican Chipotle Black Bean Soup is fantastic, but the addition of toppings takes it to a whole new level. Some suggested garnishes include: 

  • corn
  • queso fresco
  • chopped white onion
  • chopped cilantro
  • avocado
  • Mexican crema

To make it even easier to garnish quickly, I crumble several ounces of queso fresco into a 2 cup container, stirring in finely chopped onion and cilantro. I almost always have this mixture ready to go in the refrigerator. I add it to tacos, use it as a topping for scrambled eggs, and stuff tortillas with it for a quick breakfast of entomatadas (think enchilada but with a tomato-based sauce instead of a chile one).

This heart-healthy Mexican Chipotle Black Bean Soup is perfect for meal prepping as it gets better and better each day that it sits in the refrigerator, all the flavors melding together even more. I love to make this for dinner the first night and reheat bowls for lunch the rest of the week. 

Be sure to come back Wednesday for part two of my heart health series made possible by Smart & Final. 

Quick Mexican Chipotle Black Bean Soup

I developed this recipe for my 8-quart Ninja Foodi, but it's adaptable for use in any brand of electric pressure cookers. This recipe calls for chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Sold in the Mexican food aisle, they're canned peppers with spices in a vinegary sauce. I remove what I need, then divide the remaining peppers and adobo into snack-size ziptop bags (two peppers per bag) and toss these into the freezer. This way, I have them on hand for soups, meat marinades, or to blend into salsas. To thaw, I place the unopened bag into a hot cup of water for 30 to 40 seconds. To keep this recipe vegan, skip the queso fresco and Mexican crema.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 pound bag First Street black beans 

½ white onion cut root to tip, outer skin layer removed

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

3 fat cloves garlic, peeled

1½ teaspoons First Street coarse sea salt

1 tablespoon First Street ground cumin

¼ teaspoon First Street ground allspice

¼ teaspoon First Street ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

6 cups boiling water (see note)


For the queso garnish:

5 ounces queso fresco, crumbled

¼ cup minced white onion

¼ cup minced cilantro


To serve:

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 avocado, diced

Cilantro leaves

Mexican crema, optional

Lime wedges


Directions

Pick through the beans, discarding pebbles, very shriveled beans, and any broken beans. Place the beans into a water-filled bowl and swish to remove debris. Drain and repeat. Place the rinsed beans into the inner pot of the electric pressure cooker. Toss in the onion, peppers, garlic, salt, cumin, allspice, cloves, and baking soda. Pour in the water and stir. Lock on the pressure cooking lid, making sure to set the valve to seal. Set the mode to Pressure Cook on high for 40 minutes (set to Manual on an Instant Pot and use the [+] and [-] buttons to change the cooking time). When the timer goes off, allow the pressure cooker to release naturally for 20 minutes, then quick-release the remaining pressure. Using tongs, transfer the onion, garlic, and chipotle peppers to a blender. Add 1½ cups of beans, and 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Blend until smooth, then return to pot, stirring to incorporate. Close the lid and allow to sit while you prepare garnishes.

To make the queso garnish: Crumble the queso into a small bowl and stir in the onions and cilantro.

To serve: Divide the soup between six bowls and garnish each bowl with corn, some queso garnish, diced avocado and cilantro leaves. Drizzle with Mexican crema, if using. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the bowl just before eating.

To store: Transfer soup to an airtight container and allow it to cool, uncovered. Once thoroughly cooled, cover and refrigerate for up to 6 days.

Note: When it comes to electric pressure cookers, adding hot water instead of cold helps them come up to pressure faster, but cold tap water is fine if you prefer not to boil the water first.



* First Street is a Smart & Final store brand. 

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Smart & Final by way of a gift card to purchase groceries. To help offset the cost of recipe development and post-production, I occasionally enter into collaborations with brands I use and trust. Only products and ingredients that I use in my own kitchen and serve to my family are recommended here on Confessions of a Foodie. I will also often make specific brand recommendations in my posts even when there is no sponsorship involved because I want you, my readers, to be able to duplicate my results. For transparency, however, sponsored posts will always be identified. 

Until next time, friends ... xo, ani

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