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One of my favorite soup recipes is Black Bean Soup, with smoky flavor from cumin and the zing of fresh lime. It’s easy and is ready in under 30 minutes, so it’s perfect in a weeknight rotation or as a last-minute meal.  The recipe is from the “Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s” original cookbook (It also makes an appearance in our gluten-free cookbook). And if you want to see how easy it is to make, you can watch me throw it together in just a few minutes here on this TV segment.

Few foods are as well rounded and have as many health benefits as black beans. Ounce for ounce, black beans have the same amount of protein as beef but contain no cholesterol, are packed with anti-oxidants, essential fatty oils, and fiber, and have only a third of the calories.

Here are some of the benefits:

1.) Fiber and Protein.  The American Dietetic Association says that Americans barely eat half the amount of recommended fiber per day. Black beans are high in dietary fiber, which makes it an effective food for lowering cholesterol and improving digestion. 1 cup of black beans provides 15grams, or 60% of the RDA, of fiber. The high fiber and protein content in black beans makes it a nearly perfect food for maintaining controlled blood sugar levels and avoiding glycemic index peaks and lows. The added benefit of keeping blood sugar levels even is that metabolism remains strong. Your body will burn calories throughout the day, rather than slowing down as your blood sugar dips.

2.) Nutritional Content and Trace Minerals.  Black beans are extremely high in nutritional value as well and excellent sources of many vitamins and minerals, including folate, molybdenum, and iron. Molybdenum is a mineral that counteracts the effects of sulfites, such as those found in red wine. So for those sensitive to sulfites, a serving of black beans may help avoid that red wine headache.

3.) Anti-oxidants. Black beans also have high flavonoid anti-oxidant levels which can battle cancer, heart disease, and aging. It’s a lesser known fact that black beans are an anti-oxidant powerhouse. A study that appeared in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found flavonoid levels similar to those found in red grapes and cranberries. The anti-oxidants are found in the skin of the bean, and the darker the skin, the higher the levels of anti-oxidants.

4.) Get your omegas! Black beans also contain omega-3 essential fatty oils. The benefits of omega-3’s are becoming well known and include skin health and lowered blood pressure. Many people with sensitive skin or dermatitis notice a dramatic improvement after incorporating omega-3 supplements or omega-3-rich foods into their diet (even one of my dogs was put on omega-3’s to improve skin allergy symptoms and it worked!). Fatty fishes such as salmon are the primary source of omega-3’s. For vegetarians or people who don’t eat fish regularly, black beans or other omega-3-rich foods are a must.

 Canned beans preserve the nutritional value of the beans and make it much easier and convenient to use them in recipes.  If you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, make sure you check the label, as most canned beans tend to be already seasoned with some salt.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped (or use 1 1/2 cups TJ’s Freshly Diced Onion)
  • 1 clove crushed garlic, or 1 cube frozen Crushed Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 (15-oz) cans black beans (do not drain)
  • 1 cup (half a jar) of your favorite salsa, such as Trader Joe’s Chunky Salsa
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • Plain yogurt or sour cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, add the olive oil and sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent.
  2. Add cumin and garlic, sautéing for an additional minute.
  3. Pour in black beans (including juices), salsa, and lime juice. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Simmer covered for 20 minutes.
  4. When serving the soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream.

Notes

If you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, make sure you check the label, as most canned beans tend to be already seasoned with some salt. You can either use no-added-salt canned beans, or you can drain and rinse beans, replacing the liquid with low-sodium broth.

If you prefer a smoother soup, puree one of the cans of beans (often I make a double batch of this soup and puree 2 of the cans).  You can also let it simmer longer and get very thick for a terrific bean dip or burrito filling!  

This soup is even better the next day (make extra for leftovers) and it freezes well.