Black Bean Soup with Poblano Chiles

Black Bean Soup with Poblano Chilies

Black Bean Soup is a Los Angeles staple. More than any soup I’ve encountered Black Bean Soup seems to define the cool season months in this warm season city. It seems everyone I know has a Black Bean Soup recipe. One that usually shows up in my in-box accompanied by a whole list of accolades and declarations.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the enthusiasm my friends show for their recipes, and I appreciate being sent the recipes that I casually compliment. Besides, I particularly like Black Bean Soup, so I usually give each friendly incarnation a read through. I’ve even made quite a few of the versions sent my way. Most of them are very good. But the thing about Black Bean Soup– no matter how good– it’s often a little too brawny and predictable: black beans (check), broth (check), onions, cumin, and red pepper (check, check and done).

However, my checklist was recently shaken up in the most delicious way. I was invited to a casual meal with friends. The host served a Black Bean Soup with a zesty, spicy flavor. It really perked up my palate, so I ran through my mental checklist: black beans (check), broth (check), onions (check). That’s where the standard checklist veered into new territory. I discovered a sunnier disposition than I expected from this wintry Black Bean Soup. The spiciness was easily identifiable– the distinctive, smokey bite of roasted poblano chili peppers. Which is a delicious and particularly Southern California addition to Black Bean Soup. The poblanos pleased me, but hardly surprised me.

What did surprise me was the tomatoey broth. It lent a lighter, brighter texture. Making this a wonderful soup, appropriate to any season here in sunny So Cal.

I was as effusive as I could be, but surprisingly he didn’t offer to send me the recipe. Eventually I found the recipe in Bon Appétit. I made a few changes to suit my tastes, and present my loosely adapted version here. GREG

Black Bean Soup with Poblano Chilies

Black Bean Soup with Roasted Poblano 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6Source Adapted from Bon Appétit MagazinePublished

Soup can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Black Bean Soup with Roasted Poblano


  • 2 fresh poblano chiles
  • raw shelled green pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 large dried pasilla or ancho chile (stemmed, seeds removed)
  • 2 tablespoon bacon fat (or olive oil if you prefer)
  • 1 large onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 4 clove garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • 1 (14½-oz.) can diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • 4 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer)
  • kosher salt (to taste)
  • 2 (14½-oz.) cans black beans (drained)
  • ½ cup roughly grated or crumbled queso fresco
  • cilantro sprigs (to taste)
  • Lime wedges (to taste, for serving)


Roast the peppers: Char poblano chiles by laying them, one at a time, directly over a gas flame, turning occasionally with tongs until blackened on all sides. Place them in a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, set aside until cool; rub off the blackened skin, remove stems and seeds, then finely chop.

Meanwhile, toast pepitas in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Toast dried pasilla chile in same skillet until slightly darkened and pliable, about 1 minute per side; transfer to plate to cool, then roughly chop.

Heat bacon fat in a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and golden brown, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a blender, add tomatoes and chopped pasilla chile, and blend until smooth.

Return tomato mixture to Dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until quite thick and pastey, 6–8 minutes. Stir in broth; season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened, 10–15 minutes. Stir in black beans and poblano chiles. Cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Serve soup topped with queso fresco, cilantro sprigs and pumpkin seeds, with lime wedges alongside.