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Caribbean black bean soup with roasted garlic & tomatoes

number 3 in the series we can feed another 

The wind is blowing hard now, tossing boughs of tall fir trees, whipping leaves off trees and sending daubs of bright color flying through the sky. It’s quite a thing to see, even a little exciting, when you’re sitting in front of window in a warm house. The hard rain they’ve told is coming has started to fall.  The temperature is dropping quickly and rain could possibly turn to snow. Honey, put a log on the fire. I’ll serve up soup!

It’s Wednesday, so I was planning on doing beans and rice anyway, per our agreement. But the timing couldn’t have been better. What a perfect bowl of warmth this is!

I usually make this as a straight-up soup and serve either cornbread or a crusty loaf and a salad with it. Tonight though I’m first spooning into the bowl some rice cooked with a bit of cumin seeds and then ladling hot soup over top. It’s a hardy and warmly satisfying meal.

We’ll start with a green salad with red bell pepper, avocado, hot-house tomatoes, tossed in a cilantro lime vinaigrette.

Caribbean Black Bean Soup with Roasted Garlic & Tomatoes

served over rice…

  • 6 cloves garlic, un-peeled & left whole
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • 1  28 oz. can plum tomatoes crushed – fire-roasted variety
  • ½ pound black beans, cooked, with their cooking liquid reserved (or 3 cans of black beans)
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 medium to large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted & ground (see instructions below)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ (to ¾) teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
  • freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • Prepared rice (either brown or white)


  • sour cream
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • fresh cilantro leaves, torn
  • extra olive oil for drizzling (optional)

If you make this soup in the summer (or it’s summer where you are) you can oven-roast tomatoes, cut side down, drizzled with olive oil, on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven for about 20 minutes. But if it’s nearly winter where you are I hope you’ll be able to find the fire-roasted tomatoes in a can. They’ve got a deep rich flavor that works perfectly in dishes like this.

(You can see my two previous beans & rice posts for guidance on cooking dried beans if you’re in doubt. I’ll repeat again though: Be sure not to add salt until beans are nearly completely cooked, or their skins will remain tough no matter how long you cook them.)

I had these beans in the pantry. And with a name like Calypso they just had to go in this soup. You can either cook a half pound of black beans, or find some cute ones like these, or simply open a few cans of black beans and save yourself the time of cooking them.


If using brown rice, start cooking that first. If using white, begin after you get the garlic roasting in the oven.

Lay the garlic, un-peeled and left whole, on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in the foil. Place in the preheated oven (or toaster oven) and roast for 20 minutes.

Roast the cumin seed – in a dry cast iron or heavy enamel pan on medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t allow them to smoke. A wonderful aroma will likely tell you when they’re done. Either grind them with mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.

In the meantime, put the cooked beans in a soup pot, along with enough of their broth to keep them moist. Warm them on low heat.

In a medium, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeño pepper, and carrot and sauté until fragrant and beginning to caramelize. (About 10 minutes.)

Add the sautéed vegetables, along with the cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and broth to the beans.

Peel the cloves of roasted garlic, chop them and add to the soup. Add the crushed roasted tomatoes (or chop the ones you’ve roasted in the oven.) Add a few good pinches of salt, and cracked black pepper. Allow to simmer over medium-low heat until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have all blended, about 15 or 20 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly, then ladle about half of the soup into a blender. Process until smooth. Return the blended soup to the pot, bring the temperature back up and adjust the seasonings to suit your taste.

To Serve:  Put several spoonfuls of rice in the bottom of a warmed bowl. Ladle the soup over top. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, torn cilantro leaves, and slices of avocado. Pass the hot sauce if you like.

~ ~ ~

If you’re following along and cooking beans and rice once a week, putting in a jar what you’ve saved by eating frugally, the money is adding up. The jar may even be getting to a point where you’ll be able to take the contents to a local food bank or shelter. Every little bit helps…

Thank you so much,


10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Spree, so lovely and sounds so warm and satisfying on a day like this. Thank you.

    November 16, 2011
  2. A Tablespoon of Liz #

    This looks amazing… all of those flavors together.. yum! And your photos are beautiful!

    November 17, 2011
  3. Ali #

    This is what’s for dinner tonight! Any adaptations you would make for young kids?

    November 17, 2011
    • If you plan on serving it over rice, you could make it a bit less “soupy” by limiting broth to 1-1/2 cups instead of two. Go with the lesser amount of cayenne and pass the hot sauce for adults with an appetite for heat. If you have the time and can prepare just a bit ahead and let it sit for an hour, the flavors develop more fully over time. Apart from that, no, nothing I’d do differently for kidlets, so long as your kids like beans (and I happen to know they do.)

      November 17, 2011
      • Ali #

        So…we finally made this!! It was really even better than I had imagined. Eating with two young children, we decided to omit the jalapeno, go very light on the cayenne (about 1/4 teaspoon) and add a hearty heaping of grated cheddar cheese. Everyone loved it! This will be a “regular” for us!

        November 20, 2011
  4. We actually turned on the heat last night. This is a big dealon Nov. 17 when you live in Arkansas! Anyway, this soup is just delicious looking.

    November 18, 2011
  5. carolyn #

    I can’t wait to try this! I love what you’re doing with beans and rice. And why.

    November 19, 2011
  6. This looks terrific. By “large” can of tomatoes, do you mean a 28-oz. can?

    November 29, 2011
    • Yes, 28 oz. can. Thanks for catching that!

      November 30, 2011
  7. I found this roasted garlic first, so I used it and YOU ARE WONDERFUL!!!!
    I am going to promise right now to make one of your delectable recipes and post the results no matter how awful they are!! (The garlic isn’t included!)
    Happy Easter!

    April 7, 2012

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