You know, I was never much of a soup person for most of my life. We ate a lot of soups growing up, and something about them always felt boring and unsatisfying. When I worked as a waitress and saw people get excited over soup, it made me scratch my head. What’s all the fuss about? Then I entered my thirties, and all of a sudden soup is something I crave like crazy. Is this just part of getting older? Liking soup? Does this mean I’m boring? That’s a rhetorical question.
The soups haven’t gotten any more interesting over the last decade, it’s just me. I’ve changed. I’ve gone from craving excitement and new flavors to craving comfort and tastes of home, which I guess… I guess that makes me a little boring. But even in my twenties, when I was a young, sassy girl about town, there was one soup I could really get behind, and it’s this one. This black bean soup with beer and bacon was arguably the first meal to become my signature for entertaining. Every year, I would bust it out on the first cool night of fall and serve it up to all my friends with a bunch of beers and a football game on the TV. I have to say, it’s pretty exciting for a soup, even to a bunch of wild and crazy twenty-somethings.
There’s beer. There’s bacon. There’s lots of fun fixins. What else could you possibly want?
I know what else you want. You want easy. And bonus! This soup has that too. It uses up lots of pantry staples like canned beans and tomatoes, common spices, and of course beer and bacon, which are ALWAYS on hand in this house.
Lets talk about that beer for just a minute. I’ve made this soup with lots of different varieties, and I’ve found the type really does make a big difference in the end. After performing lots of grueling, rigorous research, I’ve decided lighter, pilsner styles work the best. Pacifico Clara, which is a less-common-than-Corona Mexican beer, for whatever reason, makes the best version of this soup. If you can find it at your liquor store, definitely pick up a case. It’s really great for drinking, too – one of my all-time favs. But as long as you stick to a lighter beer it should turn out just fine. Be sure to avoid lagers, IPAs, and don’t even think about using a stout. If you’re opposed to adding beer, that’s cool, too. Just add in more chicken stock until it’s good and soupy.
Stock your fridge with beers this weekend, invite over a few friends for soup and definitely don’t skimp on the fixins. This soup is seriously satisfying, and exactly what you need to get you through these last few weeks of winter.
One Year Ago: Waffles with Maple Brown Butter
- 8 slices bacon (not thick cut), finely chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 15-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 8-ounce bottle or can of light, pilsner style beer (recommended: Pacifico Clara)*
- 1 15-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 4 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped, for serving
- Thinly sliced scallions, for serving
- Sour cream, for serving
- Grated cheddar cheese, for serving
- fresh lime wedges, for serving
- Tortilla chips, for serving
- In a large heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add the bacon and stir until it starts to release its fat. Cook for about 6-7 minutes, then add in the onions. Cook while stirring until they start to turn translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for one minute. Add the chicken broth, beer, tomatoes, ketchup and Worcestershire, then stir in the beans. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the soup hot with bowls of cilantro, scallions, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lime wedges and plenty of tortilla chips on the side. Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for up to a week, and can be frozen for up to 3 months.
- *Substitute the beer for an additional can of chicken stock if desired.