Inside: Here is the best black bean soup (southwestern style) you kids will ever eat. It can change a simple soup into a gourmet meal. And, it’s an opportunity for your kids to learn a lot of healthy smart cooking in the kitchen!
Best Black Bean Soup
Years ago, a good friend in California shared this best black bean soup recipe with me. It’s a little more involved and requires more steps so try making it with your preteens and teens. It calls for different cooking procedures that will help them become a more experienced cook—chopping, sautéing, mincing, pureeing, and more. Note the add-ons at the end of the recipe—they turn a simple soup into a gourmet meal!
This soup is also perfect when planning a party for a large group of your kids’ friends—it’s a great crowd-pleaser!
Don’t forget to read the tips of what makes this such a healthy, hearty soup!
Best Black Bean Soup: Southwestern-Style
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ to 1-pound smoked ham, chopped
- 3-4 yellow onions
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- 1-2 carrots, chopped
- 6-12 cloves garlic, mince
- 4 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
- 8-12 cups chicken broth
- 2-4 corn tortillas, torn up
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp. hot pepper sauce
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- 1-2 bunches fresh cilantro, minced
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot
- Sauté the ham, onions, parsley, carrots, and garlic over medium-low heat until the onions and carrots are tender
- Drain and rinse the beans.
- Add the beans, chicken broth tortillas, beef broth and all the seasonings except the cilantro to the soup pot
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-high.
- Add more liquid if needed for a thinner consistency (if desired)
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently until the beans are tender and flavors are mixed
- This will take about 30 minutes
- Puree the soup or leave as is (I leave it as it is)
chopped fresh tomatoes
chopped green onions
chopped black olives
grated jack cheese
This is a great recipe to teach your kids many different things relating to cooking and baking. Here are some important tips to teach your kids while making the best black bean soup!
Tip #1: Cooking Vocabulary
As your kids start cooking more challenging recipes, they will be introduced to certain cooking vocabulary words that require different actions in the kitchen. Here are some words found in this recipe and their definitions:
- To cut food into bite-size pieces using a sharp knife. “Finely chopped” means the pieces should be smaller than bite-size pieces.
- This is cooking food quickly over fairly high heat using a minimal amount of fat (oil, etc)
- Mincing is a food preparation technique where food is finely chopped into uniform pieces. Using a food processor is perfect for mincing food.
- A puree is usually cooked foods such as vegetables, fruits or legumes (beans) that have been ground, pressed, blended or sieved to a creamy paste or liquid.
Tip #2: MSG: Buyer Beware!
Yes, we live in the information age, but we also live in an age of a lot of artificial foods and flavorings that cause health issues. Help your kids in the kitchen to be aware that everything found in a can or package or an ingredient needed in a recipe doesn’t mean it’s something that will build a healthy body. Foods today are loaded with sugar, salt, and artificial flavorings. And most are attached to a boatload of health problems.
For example monosodium glutamate (MSG)
MSG is a taste enhancer developed in Japan and has been added to foods since the early 1900s. It gives zest to food and can make even the blandest food taste scrumptious. It’s found in most soups, chips, fast foods, frozen foods, canned goods, and ready-made dinners.
But it’s considered an “excitotoxin” because it passes the blood-brain barrier; kills neurons and is linked with neural disorders such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, Huntington’s disease, learning disabilities, and more.
Despite all the controversy, it’s still found in all the foods I listed above. Manufacturers are now masking MSG and calling it: “natural flavoring,” or “spices,” on the labels. Don’t be fooled—NEVER purchase a soup or other food that you suspect may have MSG in it.
This recipe calls for both beef and chicken broth—and most store-bought varieties contain MSG. For this reason, stick to organic broths and teach your kids to be sleuths: READ THE LABELS CAREFULLY!
Explain to your kids that soups are wonderful to cook and are much healthier than the store-bought variety. And, making your own soup will enable you to control what goes in it and what stays out of it. But, it still requires reading the labels of every ingredient you put in the soup.
Tip #3: Safe Healthy Soup Ingredients
Here are just a few of the ingredients that make this soup so nutritious and delicious and tips of why they are a good reason to include in your kids’ diets. Be sure and share this information with your kids—knowledge is power and you want them to understand why it’s important to choose healthy foods to eat.
Tip #4: Black Beans: A Nutritious Food
Here are some reasons black beans are so healthy for kids:
- They are high in fiber which is associated with lower obesity, cancer and many other diseases. Fiber is a substance that helps kids go to the bathroom each day. It’s when we go to the bathroom daily that toxins are removed from our bodies.
- High in protein, and digest very slowly and will give your kids sustained energy. Are they involved in activities after school? If so, they’ll need energy and a ½ cup of black beans as a snack is the perfect pick-me-upper!
- Loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and protective phytochemicals which will help to increase your child’s immune systems. And, if your child has high cholesterol, black beans can help to lower it.
The downside of beans is the lectins—substances found in beans that can cause issues with the immune system and the intestines. Bummer! Loren Cordain, Ph.D., in his book, “The Paleo Diet” lists beans on the “foods to avoid” list. But, don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater” just yet… Not everyone that eats beans has problems with them, but be aware that your children may experience bloating, gas, or stomachache after eating beans. If it continues, unfortunately, it would be best not to eat them.
Tip #5: Chicken and Beef Broth
When it comes to buying broths—go organic (for all the reasons I state above). Another option is to make your own broth.
Tip #6: The Goodness of Parsley
This little green sprig is loaded with detoxification and deodorizing properties because it is loaded with life-saving green chlorophyll.
Studies show that chlorophyll can stop bacterial growth in wounds, deodorizes, deactivates carcinogens; builds the blood and helps with anemia, kidney function, and eye health.
Pretty amazing—wouldn’t you say?! Be generous when adding parsley to your soups.
Tip #7: The Power of Garlic and Onions
I’ve talked about garlic in other blogs, but it’s one of the oldest foods on the planet! And one of the most amazing health-wise. You name it: Garlic
- fights cancer
- prevents strokes
- lowers blood pressure
- helps the common cold.
And that is just barely scratching the surface of what this amazing food can do. Studies are now indicating that garlic just may help people lose weight. Even if the soup doesn’t call for garlic—add it—you won’t be sorry! One thing: if you want the most potent benefits of garlic—it needs to be crushed to release all the important compounds.
Onions are amazing for the skin. They are loaded with sulfur and the dominant mineral in our skin is sulfur. Tell your teens–they always worry about their skin and onions will help!
Tip #8: Brown Not White Rice
If you’re making a choice on whether or not you should use brown rice or white rice in this recipe—it’s not a choice—use brown rice. White rice is a waste of time and has no nutritional value. It’s that outer hull of the brown rice that’s filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and important phytonutrients.
Tip #9: Be a Savvy Shopper at the Grocery Store
Since there are some interesting ingredients in the soup, take your kids to the grocery store and teach them how to read labels. For instance, when buying broth, find the organic broth and by reading the labels, compare/contrast an organic broth with a non-organic broth. Ask your child:
- How much sodium is in each kind of broth?
- Do any of them have the words, “flavorings” or “spices” on the label?
- What other ingredients do the broths contain?
- Why is it a better idea to purchase the organic broth? Can you see why on the label?
Also, compare/contrast the difference in nutrition between brown and white rice. This is really interesting and will teach your kids that even though they may prefer white rice, it’s brown rice that is loaded with all the good stuff!