Black Bean and Chicken Soup

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup
Black Bean Soup

Cost Breakdown

Unit Cost 
 
 
Black Beans
1.75
.92
Carrots 
.4 lb
.14
Celery 
.4 lb
.16
Cumin
1 Tbl
.36
Yellow Onion
2
.18
Black pepper
1 tsp
.01
Kosher salt
1 tsp
.01
Chili powder
1 Tbl
.02
Garlic
3-4 cloves
.02
Tomatoes, diced
28 oz
.74
Sour Cream
2-3 Tbl
.13
Parsley
2 Tbl
.06
Lime Juice
2 tsp
.16
Total Cost
 
2.91
Including chicken @ 2.98/lb.
 
5.89
The cost per serving, including the cost of garnishes, is .24, or .49 if using the chicken.

Recently I was accused to using "all the best" ingredients - and it tore me up. My passion and philosophy is that technique is what elevates food - and I'm on an incredibly strict budget. I shop sales and look for bargains like the best of them. I guess in a way it was a lopsided compliment - the friend that said that to me had been looking at my cooking blog, and had decided that the only way to cook the way I do is to spend way to much at the store.

Au contraire mon amis! If you pay attention to the dishes I make, you'll see that I waste nothing, and that most of my flavor comes from two places - applying the right method to each ingredient to maximize it's punch, and from selecting flavor packed ingredients in the first place.

This simple little soup is a perfect example of how I cook every day. This dish is absolutely packed with the good stuff - beans, veggies and lean protein, and is loaded with flavor. In this case I had some chicken I needed to use, so I poached it quickly and threw it in the pot. However, most of the time I don't do that - and if you leave out the chicken or use a less expensive cut - or just less period - you cut the cost per serving from .49 to .24. On top of that this soup is easily main dish - it's rich, hearty and filling, even without the chicken. The beans themselves provide ample protein - you don't need the extra from the poultry unless you just want to.

Did I use only the best ingredients? Yes I did. But they were the ones on sale or readily available cheaply year round - dried beans, onion, carrot and celery, garlic, chili powder and cumin. This makes a big pot of soup - depending on what you include in the meal to go with it you'll easily get between 12-16 servings. It gets better as it sits too, so refridgerate the extra, and use it for a second meal. We like it as it is, but because it's thick, we sometimes roll it in tortillas with lots of dark green lettuces and some salsa for a fabulous (if messy!) burrito. Make up some cornbread and have a ready made supper with a big fat salad. This one is another of my 'double duty' recipes - cooking once and having a huge jump start on another meal. My big boys happily warm up some after school, and it's easy to feed my menfolk (my dad and brothers are often here) at lunch quickly, well and inexpensively.

Tailor it as you will too - if you have to have cheese, go ahead. Monterrey or Pepper Jack, Cheddar or a little Mozzarella, Cojito or Queso Fresco - whatever floats your boat. But remember, if budget is your concern, that's another protein and therefore pricey. I made this soup to be flavorful enough not to need it.

The Recipe!

 You'll need:

1 bag of black beans (canned if have to, but I prefer the dried, and they cost much, much less)

2 medium carrots, diced

1 medium celery stalk, diced

2 yellow onions, diced

1 Tbl cumin

Freshly cracked black pepper

Kosher salt

1 Tbl chili powder

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 lb of cooked shredded chicken (optional)

to garnish:

sour cream

minced parsley or cilantro

lime juice

  1. I really like using dried beans. I normally let them soak overnight, since that method preserves more of their nutritional value. So - soak them overnight, drain the soaking water, cover them again with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for about an hour to an hour and a half. The fresher your dried beans, the shorter the cooking time. Halfway through this first cooking time, add cumin and chili powder, and a good teaspoon of salt. More if you like. You'll know they're ready when you can taste one and have it be just a little bit underdone. If it were pasta it'd be 'al dente'.
  2. Add onions, carrots, garlic and celery to the pot. Continue to simmer for another half hour. After twenty minutes you can taste for seasoning - the broth will be your best indicator. Taste adjust seasoning for salt and pepper. If you'd like additional cumin or chili powder - or both! - add it now.
  3. Taste again. Once the beans are cooked - tender but not mushy - stir in tomatoes and juice. Don't add the tomatoes before the beans are done, because the acid in the tomatoes will prevent the beans from becoming tender, although they'll be 'done'. If you're using chicken, stir it in, or use it as a garnish.
  4. To serve, simply ladle into bowls. Add a little squirt of lime juice to each bowl, and top with a dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle with the parsley or cilantro - and eat up!

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Comments 4 comments

rkhyclak profile image

rkhyclak 6 years ago from Ohio

Great recipe! We've been using a lot more beans (all varieties) and stuff like lentils as well to stretch a buck a little further. All it takes is some creativity and you can eat GREAT for cheap!


DixieMockingbird profile image

DixieMockingbird 6 years ago from East Tennessee Author

Thanks - and you are so right! I love, love, love dried beans, any and all kinds! And with a tight budget and four kids myself - stretching has become nearly an art form. Like I said in the article - it's all about the method - and you CAN eat great for cheap! Thank you again!


Spider Girl profile image

Spider Girl 6 years ago from the Web

Wow what a recipe DixieMockingbird! Can't wait any longer to try it!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

Mmm...thanks so much. We're in for a rainy weekend, this is perfect! :)

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