Monday, September 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup Recipe plus bonus Chilli-Cheese 5-minute Cornbread

I used to love cooking this soup on a Friday afternoon back when I was a student and black beans were a rare commodity, only occasionally found in some out-of-the way deli in one of the posher corners of Edinburgh. The beans turn a dark purple and the celery would create a green foam which made it look like a veritable witch's cauldron. The original stove-top recipe is from one of my all time most-thumbed cook books, The New York Cook Book which I picked up on my first back-packing trips to the States. 

I wanted to see if I could create a slow-cooker version and if I could adapt my usual microwave cornbread recipe to include the cheese, sweetcorn and jalapenos which Jamie Oliver includes in his cornbread recipe in Jamie's America.  The cornbread recipe's at the bottom.

I've written down the soup recipe in cups as I omitted to weigh the beans but you can use a measuring jug to measure the beans by volume. 

Ingredients for 4 generous portions:

1 1/2 cups (or use your measuring jug to get about 380 ml by volume) black beans, dried and unsoaked (aren't I naughty? I never soak beans for the slow cooker)
3 cups (750 L) chicken stock, made up with 2 cubes*
3 sticks celery, ideally with leaves, chopped

3 tbsp lemon juice
a slug dry sherry (optional)
salt and pepper

* see verdict - I think this was too much


Cook the beans, stock, celery and onion on High for 8-10 hours or until the beans are done. DO NOT add salt or lemon juice or the beans won't cook!

Once beans are soft, blend 3/4 of the soup with a hand-held stick blender or in the liquidiser. Add lemon juice, more or less to taste, salt, ditto, and a little dry sherry if you fancy it.


This was blah and it took me ages to figure out why but basically I hadn't reduced the water enough from the original recipe and, as it doesn't evaporate in the slow cooker, the soup was too thin. It should be more porridgy. So the taste was there (the lemon juice cuts the fugginess of the beans perfectly) but the volume was turned way down on the taste front. I suggest  about 550 ml or just over 2 cups.

A great way to have this the next day or to vary the recipe is to add a can of tomatoes, replace some of the lemon juice with lime juice and throw in at least 2 tsp of Schwartz's Fajita seasoning (or chilli powder, cumin, coriander). You might like some leaf coriander (cilantro) with this. It's surprisingly good cold, and works well with sour cream. Yum! I'd have it more often but I feel a little unfaithful to the old recipe....

Chilli-Cheese Cornbread

Basic version without chilli and cheese - sourced from

1/2 cup/75g flour - we use wholemeal
1/2 cup/75g coarse cornmeal or polenta
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup/120 ml milk - I used semi-skimmed
pinch salt
1 egg, beaten.
2 tsp baking powder


Mix all ingredients and pop into microwave on High for 3 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

And now to super-charge your cornbread...

Add 3/4 cup or 100g grated mature cheddar, 4-5 rings of jalapeƱos from a jar, minced (more or less to taste), 3/4 cup/150 g sweetcorn from a can (or defrosted briefly in microwave if frozen) to the batter before putting in the microwave. You could also add fajita seasoning but I'm trying to wean myself off it! This little lot will need 4 minutes rather than 3 in the microwave.


Oh hello! Come to Mama! This was sooo good. I loved the chewiness of the slightly undercooked sweetcorn and the texture it provided. This had it all going on. Try it. It'll be a good use of 10 minutes, I promise you. You might want to leave out the chillis if this is to accompany a bowl of chilli. Goes brilliantly with bacon and eggs too!


  1. Hi... It all looks gorgeous. Just wondering what sized "tin" (or its silicone equivalent) you used for the cornbread?

  2. Oh, sorry! I just use a little china casserole dish - I'd say it's a 3 or 4 pinter but a 2 pinter would do it, I think. Hope that helps!

  3. That's fantastic - thanks very much!

  4. Hi. I made the cornbread last night to accompany your ribs recipe. We all enjoyed it, but I think maybe the milk has been forgotten in the ingredients? I mixed up the recipe and it was more like crumble, so I googled other recipes to see if a liquid was missing and they all listed milk. I added milk until it looked right, and it was a hit. Thought I'd let you know though, especially as I'd like to know how much milk to put in next time :-)

    Love the site, and thanks for the recipes.

  5. Hi Caroline,
    So sorry about that. You're absolutely right and I will amend it now so you have the correct recipe. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.