Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

I’ve been kind of jones-ing for Cuban food lately.  This is nod in that direction.  I’ve never had a lot of luck with dried black beans.  No matter how long I soak them or cook them they seem to come out harder than I would like.  But I’m trying again today.  Let’s face it, dried beans are wicked cheap, make a ton of whatever you’re making, and are generally good for you.  I also had a smoked turkey leg in the freezer left from my New Year’s Hoppin’ John preparations and this soup was a good excuse to use it.  It’s also supposed to snow overnight so having a bunch of soup around seems like a good idea.  And since it cooks in the slow cooker I don’t have to touch it all day and part of dinner will be done.  Plenty of good reasons to make this soup.  Of course what counts is whether or not the soup is good.  And it is.

Black Bean Soup

Now, be aware that this is not quite the “dump stuff in the crock pot and eat 8 hours later” thing that I am inclined to assume when using my slow cooker.  First, you have to remember to soak the beans the night before.  Not a big deal, but it is something that has to be remembered.  Second, you have to chop, saute and flour the vegetables and deglaze the pan before adding the vegetables to the crock pot.  Third, you have to put together a little spice bundle to throw in there.  So, it’s a little more high maintenance that I would like, but you can do all the prep the night before so in the morning it is just a “set it and forget it” operation.  And, by the way, the house smells fantastic.

I mostly followed the recipe, but I forgot to pick up pickling spice at the store and I didn’t quite have all of the elements at home. My spice bundle included mustard seeds, whole cloves, annatto seeds and a cinnamon stick.  We’ll see how that goes.  Instead of red pepper flakes I used a little of the crushed hot peppers given to me by a friend.  Other than that I followed this recipe to the letter.

And yum!  A big success.    I was concerned that the spices were a little weird, but it turned out really well.  The cloves and cinnamon are present, but kind of subtle.  The smoked turkey is a lovely addition.  I served it with sour cream, cilantro and tostones on the side.  My only suggestion is that you add less water at the beginning.  Water doesn’t cook out of a crock pot.  Even with pureeing a good many beans and adding them back to the soup it’s a little thinner than I’d like. I think 6 cups of water is probably plenty.  And use water, not stock, because the smoked turkey adds all the necessary flavor.

Good? Very.
Easy? Not bad at all.
Good for company? Yep, makes a ton.  Serve as a first or only course.
Special shopping?

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup


  • 2 red onions, halved
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound dried black turtle beans, picked over, rinsed and drained
  • 1 smoked turkey drumstick (1 3/4 to 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice, tied in cheesecloth
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream and/or lime wedges, for garnish (optional)
  • Directions

    Set aside half an onion and chop the rest. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, carrots and garlic; sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, until slightly browned, 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and scrape up any browned bits from the pan. Transfer the vegetables and cooking liquid to a slow cooker. Add the beans, turkey drumstick, pickling-spice packet, red pepper flakes and 8 cups water. Cover and cook on low 6 hours.

    Remove the drumstick and shred the meat; keep warm. Remove about 2 cups beans from the cooker and blend until smooth (or partially blend with an immersion blender). Return the beans and turkey meat to the soup. Season with salt and pepper.

    Mince the reserved 1/2 onion. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the cilantro and minced onion. Garnish with sour cream and lime, if desired.


    2 Responses to “Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup”

    1. Janet S Says:

      Did the black beans turn out soft in this recipe?

    2. 1womanskitchen Says:

      They did! But not mushy.

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