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Black Bean Soup

So, Easter is behind us and this means leftover ham in my refrigerator. I often use ham as a substitute for bacon (don't hate me, my husband has a family history of heart disease) in recipes. I always have canned black beans on hand. Recently I've started using dry beans more, but canned beans will never be replaced in my kitchen. While this is called a soup, it may be more like a chili or a stew. It's very thick when finished. My husband, who isn't traditionally a soup lover, loves it. I've been making it for many years and it has become a favorite in our home. It was originally inspired by a Dave Lieberman recipe. He was a Food Network chef who hosted the show "Good Deal with Dave Lieberman". Over the years I've modified it to suit my taste.


  • 1 medium sized ham steak (or a couple of good slabs of leftover ham) cubed

  • This was maybe 1 1/2 cups for me after diced small

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, pressed

  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can reduced-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 (14 1/2 ounce) can of petite diced tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons ketchup

  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 3 (15 1/2-ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 bunch cilantro

  • juice of 1/2 lime

  • Sour cream, for garnish

  • Grated cheese, for garnish


  1. Place cubed ham into a large heavy pot (I use my enameled dutch oven) with olive oil over medium heat. Cook until it starts to shrivel a bit - 4 to 5 minutes.

  2. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes.

  3. Stir in the garlic (mince finely if you don't have a press) and cook until you can smell it, about 1 minute.

  4. At this point you can add the broth*, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire, and chili powder stirring to combine. Now stir in the beans, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the soup is bubbling gently and cook for 10 minutes.

*If I don't have broth, I use Better than Bouillon to mix some up. I keep this on hand for all of my "I HAVE NO CHICKEN STOCK" emergencies.

  1. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste. I find it doesn't need much and that the salt is very dependent on the broth / stock you choose.

  2. Meanwhile, wash and shake the cilantro dry. Pick off all the thick stems. Chop the cilantro coarsely and stir it into the soup when it has been simmering 10 minutes.

(I happen to have a hanging herb harden in my front window. My husband and daughter built it for me years ago. I hang it to get a jump on spring every year.)

  1. Cook until the soup is thickened, about 5 minutes.

  2. Stir in the lime juice (Freshly squeezed. Don't skip this, as it is critical to the final product.)

  3. Serve with the garnishes. I used to use grated cheddar cheese. Recently, I've fallen in love with cotija for Mexican dishes. Use what you like!

I would say that the recipe as written serves 4 people who are hungry (like we are). It takes about 30 minutes start to finish. We like to serve it with a slab of home baked bread, cornbread muffins or tortilla chips as well.

#soup #ham #leftover

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Vermont, USA

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