Maybe you’re grocery shopping less and you want to use what’s in your pantry. Maybe you just want something that’s warm, hearty, and comforting in a way only soup can be. This pantry-friendly recipe can accommodate whatever you have on hand, or don’t.

Most of the soup’s flavour comes from the black beans and the spices, so skip or substitute anything you’re missing, like broth, canned tomatoes, carrots and celery. You can even use onion powder and garlic powder if needed. This soup is a great way to use up leftover cooked or roasted veggies like sweet potato, cauliflower, zucchini, or squash; or fresh veggies that will soon be not-so-fresh, like carrots, celery, potatoes, sweet potatoes, red or green peppers, or avocado. If you have a cup or 2 of assorted roasted vegetables, add them. Or if you have only one small carrot and two fresh tomatoes, the soup will still be delicious. Customize it as you wish – the beans can handle it!

Pantry Black Bean Soup

Makes 4 to 8 servings, depending on additions

Dietary restrictions: Vegan; gluten-free depending on toppings

Cooking time: 15 to 30 minutes active time (depending on vegetables to chop), 30 to 60 minutes further cooking time with stirring at the beginning

Difficulty level: Easy if you follow the basic recipe or cook regularly, intermediate if you’re making substitutions


  • Small amount of oil or broth, for sautéing
  • 1 onion, diced (yellow, white, or red)
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 to 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder, or chipotle spice powder/canned chipotles to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 to 3 cups vegetable broth or water (more or less depending on veggies used – start with less and add more if it is too thick after the blending step)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (canned or from dry beans)
  • 1 small or large can of tomatoes, diced or whole (for whole tomatoes, squish them a bit with your hand or a blend briefly with a stick blender before adding)
  • 1 red or green pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 potato or sweet potato, peeled and diced; or diced squash or zucchini (optional)
  • ½ cup canned or fresh corn (optional)


Heat a large pot over medium-high. Add oil or broth, garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until onion is translucent. (If you don’t have fresh onions, add fresh garlic to the carrots and celery—sautéing fresh garlic on its own can easily burn it.)

Add carrots and celery (and any other raw non-root vegetables like red or green pepper, zucchini, or fresh corn) and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add spices, and stir to heat through—direct heat brings out the flavor of spices.

Carefully add broth, black bean, canned tomatoes, and any optional longer-cooking raw veggies like potato or sweet potato. If you add longer-cooking veggies here, simmer 45 minutes then check if the veggies are done. Otherwise, add cooked veggies, like roasted cauliflower, and simmer for 15 minutes to allow flavours to combine.

Taste for flavour and check that all veggies are cooked through.

When soup is ready, carefully ladle a cup or two into a blender and blend briefly, and return to the soup pot. (Or use a hand blender and blend for one-second intervals, checking each time and stopping when your desired consistency is reached.) Use your judgement— if you like a chunky soup, you may want to blend only half a cup, or for a smoother soup, blend more.

If you have canned corn, add it after blending, cook a minute to heat through. Serve, with optional bread, pita or corn tortilla, or with optional toppings below.

Optional toppings – I recommend picking three

  • Squeeze of lime
  • Finely chopped onions, to taste, but be cautious with quantity if you’re social distancing with others!
  • Fresh chopped cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Diced fresh tomatoes
  • Roasted potato or sweet potato wedges
  • Canned corn or cooked fresh corn
  • Tortilla chips
  • Soft tortillas, rolled up and sliced into long thin strips