Smoky, Spicy Black Bean Soup with Braised Chicken

It’s starting to feel like real springtime weather these days -- cool in the mornings and evenings, warm during the day, weather that sometimes makes it hard to know what to eat. A cool, refreshing, summery salad or a comforting, warming wintery stew?

I think this recipe is the best of both worlds. Black beans and chicken gently braise with a mixture of the spices commonly found in chorizo to yield something with deep, delicious flavor and a nice pop of spice. On top is a hit of freshness -- cilantro leaves, sliced scallion greens, serrano chiles, avocado, lime juice, and a dollop of sour cream.

Smoky, Spicy Black Bean Soup with Braised Chicken

 It’s enough to keep you warm on a cool spring night, with flavors that will knock the final dregs of those winter blues right out of sight.


Spices used in this recipe

Salt, Kosher
Cumin Seed
Coriander, Seeds Whole
Cloves, Whole
Cinnamon, Ground
Oregano, Mexican
Garlic, Granulated
Peppercorns, Black Tellicherry
Salt, Kosher
Paprika, Spanish Sweet
Chili Powder, Ancho
Cayenne Pepper
Chili Powder, Chipotle
Paprika, Smoked Spanish
Peppercorns, Tellicherry, Grinder
Bay Leaves



  1. The day before you plan to make the soup, soak the beans. Place the dried beans in a large bowl with 3 Tbs. of kosher salt and cover with about 1 gallon of water, stirring until salt is dissolved. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
  2. The next day, make the spice blend. In a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or clean coffee grinder, combine the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, ground cinnamon, oregano, thyme, granulated garlic, ½ tsp. Kosher salt, peppercorns, chile powder or and cayenne, smoked paprika, and chipotle powder and process until evenly ground. Set aside.
  3. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and brown on both sides. You may want to brown the chicken in two batches to prevent crowding. Remove the chicken and place on a large plate. While the chicken cooks, drain and rinse the beans, and measure the stock so it’s ready to go.
  4. Lower the heat to medium and add the scallion whites, garlic, and chopped serrano to the pot. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pot as you go.
  5. Add the spice mixture to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring frequently, so spices do not burn.
  6. Add broth to pot and stir to combine with spice mixture. Add the beans and bay leaves and stir to combine, scraping up more brown bits from the bottom of the pot if needed. Place the chicken thighs into the pot, nestling them into the beans, and pour in any juices that have collected on the plate.
  7. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Cook until beans and chicken are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  8. Remove and discard bay leaves. Using tongs, remove chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Discard skins.
  9. While chicken cools, ladle 2 cups of beans and broth into a blender and puree until smooth. Stir back into soup. Repeat process to further thicken soup if desired.
  10. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred with two forks or with your fingers. Discard bones and stir shredded chicken back into soup. Serve with cilantro, sliced scallions greens, sliced serrano chiles, avocado slices, sour cream, and lime wedges.

Serves 6-8. Adapted from Serious Eats.

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