easy black bean soup

Like anyone who prepares meals every night of the week, I don’t always have time to languish over a pot of soup.  Some days, there’s just not time for all the chopping and dicing and stirring required.  If you feel my pain, you’ll appreciate how fast this black bean soup comes together.  Classic flavor reigns with the cilantro, red bell pepper, and cumin.  Optional toppers, aside from the yogurt (or sour cream, if you’re so inclined), include some shredded pepper jack cheese, a dash of hot sauce to kick it up a notch, or some baked tortilla chips.   My only qualm with the recipe was it didn’t make enough to put it to the “yesterday’s soup” test.  We all know things like this taste even better the next day.  But this one tasted pretty darn good the first day!  Nonetheless, next time I’m going to double the batch to insure some leftovers.

Also, this soup is only a couple of substitutions away from being a perfectly acceptable vegetarian meal:  swap out the chicken stock for veggie stock, and bulk it up with tofu or more beans.  Personally, I’d go with the beans.  Tofu is just…well.  Tofu is just tofu.  However you make this your own, you’re sure to enjoy!!




Easy Black Bean Soup (recipe adapted from: Cooking Light Superfast Suppers)


  • 1/4 c onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c red pepper, chopped
  • 1 low-fat turkey kielbasa (Hillshire Farms), cut into pieces
  • 1 15 oz can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14 oz can fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp basil/garlic/oregano flavored tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp reduced -fat Greek yogurt (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)


  1. Place non-stick saucepan over medium-high heat until hot.  Add onion and pepper; saute 3 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  2. Add chopped sausage, beans, and chicken broth to onion mixture.  Stir in tomato paste and cumin; bring soup to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until soup is slightly thickened.
  3. Ladle soup into individual bowls; dollop each serving evenly with yogurt, and sprinkle with cilantro.
  4. Serve with home-made tortilla chips (optional).



spiced red lentil soup with lemon

I’m a big fan of the lentil – healthy, filling, packed with protein, full of iron and budget-friendly.  I’m also a big fan of soup.  It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I love lentils in soup!  Not to disparage beans, which I also love, but you can whip together a soup containing lentils in a matter of an hour, or so.  Beans require forethought…something I don’t always exercise.

Friday night the kiddo had gymnastics until 5 p.m., which doesn’t leave a lot of time to get home and start cooking.  So earlier in the day I threw this soup together on a whim after finding the recipe on Twitter.  Of course the lentils caught my attention first, but we’re heavy into citrus season in these parts and lemons are plentiful.  Also, the list of ingredients was really short and all stock pantry items so there was no need for a last-minute scramble to the grocery store for obscure items.

The soup goes together really fast, so to enhance the flavors of the spices they’re dry-fried ahead of time.  This method gives them a fuller, headier flavor I don’t think you would experience if you stirred them in straight for the jar.  The citrus is fresh and crisp, and a nice compliment to the warm, spiciness of cumin and coriander.  I served this with some chopped, fresh cilantro from our garden and it was absolutely delicious.  For a recipe tossed together on a whim, it turned out to be delightfully pleasing and I’ll definitely be making it, again, in my regular rotation of meatless meals.  Enjoy!


Spiced Red Lentil Soup with Lemon


  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 c low-sodium, organic chicken stock
  • 1 1/4 c yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c Red Lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (optional)


  1. Rinse and drain lentils; set aside.
  2. Heat heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil and swirl to coat, reducing heat to medium.  Toss in onion and stir frequently for about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, or so, stirring frequently.
  3. Add lentils and cook for 2 minutes more, until well combined with onion and garlic, then stir in chicken stock.  Bring liquid to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are softened.
  4. While the lentils are cooking, heat a non-stick frying pan over high heat.  Place the cumin and coriander into the pan and dry-fry for 2 minutes.  Do not let the spices scorch.  Add to soup mixture along with juice of one whole lemon.  Stir together and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer to serving bowls, salt and pepper to taste, and top with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (optional).


***Cook’s Notes:  Similar recipes have you remove and puree half the soup, then return it to the pot.  This is obviously a textural issue.  I didn’t do that.  Honestly, I liked the texture of the softened, whole lentils.  It gave the soup a more rustic, heartier quality.  Blend or don’t blend, that’s up to you.  Also, although this is photographed with parsley, I served it with chopped cilantro, which I much prefer.  It was excellent.  Again, it’s a matter of preference.  You can easily make this soup vegetarian/vegan by choosing vegetable stock over the chicken.  I’m a proud omnivore and much prefer the depth of flavor in a chicken stock.  Choose low-sodium, organic stock if you can.

winter vegetable and barley soup

It’s the perfect day for a soup post.  There’s a cold front lingering, skies full of low clouds, and rain.  I love me some rain.  And I love me some soup on a rainy day!  Love.  Love.  Love.  The only caveat is this recipe was only rated two out of five stars, so whether it qualifies as good eats is debatable.  Having now cooked and served it, I think two stars is probably about right if you prepare the soup as suggested.  Personally, I found it a bit too sweet; the result of using both carrots and parsnips, both of which have a very sweet taste.

The first thing I’d do differently to bump up the savoriness would be to swap out the carrots or parsnips for another veggie.  I might replace the parsnips with potatoes, for instance.  Or, leave the parsnips and replace the carrots with tomatoes so you still have some nice color in the finished product.  Unless you like sweet soup, that is.  My husband said he thought it was good, but probably because I had warned him ahead of time it was fairly sweet.  Another option would be to hit it with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a little extra salt once you’ve ladled it into bowls.

Either way, this soup was really hearty and filling, and scored high in the healthy eating category.  The kid-rating was notably low, though, but I think she picked up on my “too sweet” vibe.  Make a few alterations to bring out a more savory quality and I think it would actually please everyone.  Enjoy!




  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice (1 cup)
  • 1 large rib celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice (3/4 cup)
  • 1 pound assorted root vegetables, such as parsnips, carrots, rutabaga and/or turnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup pearled barley
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas
  • 4 ounces cooked ham, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives

Heat the oil in a 4- to 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and celery; cook for 3 minutes, stirring, then add the diced root vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.

Stir in the broth and barley. Once the liquid begins bubbling at the edges, cover the pot and adjust the heat so the liquid maintains a little movement. Cook for 45 to 55 minutes or until the barley is done and the vegetables are tender.

Uncover; add the peas and ham. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until the peas are tender. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the chives.

Divide among individual bowls; top each portion with a sprinkling of the remaining chives, or some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


creamy italian white bean and spinach soup

I started this meal with something else in mind.  Originally, dinner was supposed to be Spinach and Leek White Bean Soup, since I’d purchased a couple of leeks previously to use in a recipe I never ended up putting together.  So I knew I needed to use them soon or they’d be inedible.  Much to my surprise, they already were inedible.  I’ll just call that a lesson learned in not buying local.

Of course, I discovered the leeks in their apparent state of decay only moments before I planned to slice them and saute them with a couple of cloves of garlic.  Brilliant cook and super-fast thinker that I am…I clicked on the next delicious looking link.  Problem solved!  (Don’t you just love the internet?).  Hence, Creamy Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup.  And, none of my ingredients looked like a 6th grade science experiment.

As for the results?  I sometimes rate the success of a recipe by how much I have left at the end of the meal (unless I’ve cooked for an army), and how long the leftovers sit in the refrigerator.  My second barometer is whether my 6-year-old turned her nose up at it sans any attempt to taste it,  if she  tried it and then turned her nose up, of if she ate.  And by “ate,” I mean, she didn’t just nibble with her front teeth, but actually got some on her real, actual taste buds.  Minus the spinach, she ate, and she said she liked it.  Maybe I was just being manipulated into a subsequent bowl of Dreyer’s Limited Edition Girl Scout Thin Mint ice cream, but….I actually believed her.

There were no leftovers, either, if that tells you anything, so I can’t say how this soup would age.  Based on our first and only eating, I found it flavorful and really delicious.  Given a couple of days to mellow in the refrigerator, I’m pretty sure it would have been spectacular.  Enjoy!

Creamy Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup (recipe courtesy Allrecipes.com)


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil. Cook onion and celery in oil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until tender. Add garlic, and cook for 30 seconds, continually stirring. Stir in beans, chicken broth, pepper, thyme and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. With slotted spoon, remove 2 cups of the bean and vegetable mixture from soup and set aside.
  3. In blender at low-speed, blend remaining soup in small batches until smooth, (it helps to remove the center piece of the blender lid to allow steam to escape.) Once blended pour soup back into stock pot and stir in reserved beans.
  4. Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring. Stir in spinach and cook 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat and serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Servings Per Recipe: 4

Nutrition Info per serving:

  • Calories: 245
  • Total Fat: 4.9g
  • Cholesterol2mg
  • Sodium1014mg
  • Total Carbs38.1g
  • Dietary Fiber11.2g
  • Protein12g

***Kitchen Notes:  The original recipe calls for removing some of the bean and veggie mixture and blending it to create the creamier texture.  I didn’t go that far.  Instead, I used my potato masher and gently mashed the beans and veggies in the pan.  That left some of the beans whole, while also creating a thicker, heartier soup.  No need to go overboard, just 10 or 12 times through the pot.  Also, I used fresh thyme.  If you do, remember to use about 4x as much fresh as you would if you’re using dried herbs.  Also, you could turn this into a vegetarian soup by simply swapping out the chicken stock for veggie stock.

simple red lentil soup

It’s no secret I’m a fan of soup.  Love it.  Love it.  Love it.  It’s one of those meals that gives me a sense of accomplishment.  Maybe because I don’t just assemble a bunch of ingredients and then slam the oven door shut behind them until the timer goes off.  No, soup requires near constant attention from start to finish.  I actually see the progression as the dish comes together – because I’m right there stirring.  It’s sort of a symbiotic relationship: I need the soup, the soup needs me!

This recipe came to me via the fine ladies at the North Scottsdale Farmers Market, but it originated at a wonderful site called Umami Girl, which is chock-full of amazing recipes!  This one is no exception.  The lentils are beautiful and nutty, the arborio rice gives the soup great texture – a thick, hearty meal.  A squeeze of fresh lemon adds a bright finish.  Everyone loved it!  Well, Kat ate it and put on a happy face, but she’s in the midst of a 30-days-of-complaint-free-meals campaign to earn herself an American Girl doll.  Minus the opinion of a marginally picky 6 year old, the soup was a major hit.  It’ll definitely be going into the rotation.  Enjoy!


2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup dry red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/4 cup arborio rice
3 cups water + 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving


In a medium pot with a heavy bottom, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to prevent browning. Add lentils and rice and stir to coat with oil. Add water, salt, cumin, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, lifting the lid occasionally to stir, until lentils and rice are completely tender and the soup is of uniform and moderately thick consistency, about an hour. Serve hot with lemon wedges to squeeze overtop.

Kitchen Notes:  The original recipe called for 6 cups of water, which made it a truly vegetarian dish.  I opted for 3 cups water and 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock.  The option is yours.

white beans with swiss chard and rice

 Any chance I have to make soup, I do.  The soup season here in the desert is short, to say the least.  What’s the old phrase?  Make hay while the sun shines?  Well, I make soup while the sun doesn’t shine.  Or, at least when it doesn’t shine so intensely.

This last week has been an amazingly cold, freakishly wintry stretch of weather.  Oh, I know we’re not buried in 19 inches of the white stuff.  But we’ve had frost, freeze advisories, and frozen fountains.  My winter wear of choice is a toasty, down-filled Patagonia beauty.  I generally wear it twice a year: once during our Michigan adventure after Christmas, and once if we head to the mountains in northern and/or eastern Arizona to get in some sledding or skiing.  I had never, until this last week, worn it in The Valley of the Sun.

If that’s not soup making weather, I don’t know what is.  I found this recipe in the New York Times about a year ago.  It is probably the heartiest, healthiest, most comforting bowl of soup I’ve ever made.  The original recipe doesn’t call for rice, but the rice bulks it up a bit and gives it a stew-like quality.  Also, I used red swiss chard which gave my broth a deeper, richer color.  And, although the original recipe called for 2 quarts of water, I subbed in 2 quarts of chicken stock.  To keep it a purely vegetarian meal, use water or vegetable stock.

This recipe is sure to satisfy your belly on a cold winter day and warm you from the inside out.  Enjoy!

White Beans with Swiss Chards and Rice

(Recipe adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, Recipes for Health)


  • 3/4 pound Swiss chard (1 small bunch)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound (1 1/8 cups) white beans, washed and picked over
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional but recommended)
  • Salt
  • 1 cup rice (I used a Texmati blend)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A few drops of fresh lemon juice (optional)

1. Stem the Swiss chard, and wash both the stems and the leaves in at least two changes of water until thoroughly clean. Dice the stems if they’re wide, and set aside. Stack the leaves and cut in wide ribbons or chop coarsely. Set aside separately from the stems.

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, and add the onion and diced chard stems. Cook, stirring often, until the onion softens, about five minutes. Add half the garlic, and stir together for 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant. Add the beans, bay leaf, Parmesan rind (tie the bay leaf and rind together with a kitchen string to make retrieval easier) and 2 quarts chicken stock. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat and simmer one hour. Add the remaining garlic and salt to taste, and simmer for another 30 minutes to an hour until the beans are tender.

3. Add the rice and pepper, and simmer 15 minutes until the rice is tender. Stir in the chard leaves, and simmer another five to 10 minutes until the chard is tender but still bright. The mixture should be soupy but thick. Season to taste with salt and fresh black pepper. Squeeze on some fresh lemon juice — 2 to 3 teaspoons — if desired, and serve in wide soup bowls.

tortellini tomato & spinach soup

We interrupt our regularly scheduled pumpkin obsession to bring you something to help you warm up, take the chill off, and get cozy.  Soup.  The ultimate comfort food.  We’ve had some really lovely below normal days where the mercury hasn’t reached 70° and I put on socks and real shoes and a vest.  Ok, so maybe it’s not cool enough for a jacket with sleeves, but I’ll take any weather allowing me to wear more than one layer of anything.

This recipe is a delicious way to celebrate fall in the desert (or anywhere, for that matter).  It’s also a great recipe if you want soup, but don’t necessarily want to spend all day cooking, and waiting, and simmering, and skimming.  It goes together really fast and is flavorful enough to serve immediately.  None of that waiting a couple of days for the flavors to mingle…although, they will, and it’ll be even more delicious.  Enjoy!


  •  1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 c onion, minced
  •  1 clove garlic, minced
  •  4 to 6 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
  •  1 (14 oz) can whole tomatoes, crushed through your fingers or coarsely chopped
  •  1 (9 oz) package fresh tortellini or 4 servings dried tortellini
  • Coarse grain salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 10 oz fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted and chopped
  •  Freshly shredded Parmigiano Reggiano


In a 3 quart soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion and garlic, stirring often until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add broth and tomatoes, turn heat up to high, and bring to a boil.  Add tortellini and cook according to package directions.  When tortellini is almost done, add spinach and taste, adjusting seasonings with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with freshly shredded Parmigiano Reggiano.