Sunday, February 03, 2013

Slow Cooker (or Stovetop) Vegetarian Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro
I've made this Slow Cooker Black Bean and Rice Soup many times for parties!

(Updated February 2013 with better photos and instructions.)  I first made this recipe when black beans had been on my mind, and this recipe was one of those intuitive ones that swirled around in my brain for a few days and then suddenly I found myself in the kitchen making it. This has happened to me for years, but luckily when I started blogging I learned to write the recipes down.   The soup was flavorful and delicious, with earthy beans, sour lime juice and spicy cilantro all combined in a healthy soup without a drop of fat, salt, or gluten, and although I used chicken stock, it could have easily been vegan if you used vegetable stock.  This may be one of the healthiest recipes I've ever channeled and it's such a perfect Meatless Monday soup that I decided this recipe deserved better photos!

There isn't a lot of rice in the soup, but the rice is important. If you're following the South Beach Diet, I strongly recommend using Uncle Ben's Converted Rice, although brown rice would be acceptable. Uncle Ben's is the lowest glycemic index type of white rice, plus it's the type of rice Julia Child used. Bet you didn't know that!

However, even though the rice is essential, this soup is really about the black beans. They're one of the World's Healthiest Foods, high in dietary fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Black beans have very large amounts of the trace mineral molybdenum, which can be beneficial to people who are sensitive to sulfites. Beans are low in calories, and all types of beans are considered a *good carb* on the South Beach diet. 

And of course, this is my Meatless Monday dish for this week.  I've made this recipe so many times for parties when I wanted a vegetarian option and it's always been a hit.  (You can find more meatless recipes by using the label Meatless Monday or checking Vegetarian Recipes in the recipe index, and I'm also doing a meatless slow cooker recipe each Monday on Slow Cooker from Scratch.  For more Meatless Monday ideas from other bloggers, follow our Meatless Monday board on Pinterest, or check Meatless Monday at BlogHer.)

In a 3-4 quart slow cooker, combine beans, tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, Ancho chile powder, and Chipotle chile powder.  Cook on low 6-8 hours (or on high 3-4 hours.)

When beans and tomatoes are very well done (even starting to fall apart), it's time to add the rice.

You might be tempted to use more rice, but trust me, 1/4 cup will be perfect.  If you were cooking on low, turn the slow cooker to high.

Cook on high for about 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Then stir in the fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro and cook about 5 minutes.  Serve hot, with more lime and cilantro to add at the table.

And just for fun, here is the original photo from 2006, which was okay for those days but not great!

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro
(makes 6 servings, can be doubled for larger Crockpot or stovetop cooking, recipe created by Kalyn)

2 cans (15. oz. each) black beans with liquid
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) petite diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth (or use vegetable stock for strictly vegetarian or vegan version)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic (or more)
1 T ground cumin
1 T dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
1 tsp. ground Ancho chile powder (I used Penzeys)
(could substitite regular chile powder)
1/4 tsp. ground Chipotle chile powder (I used Penzeys)
(could substitute finely chopped Chipotle chile in adobo from a can)
1/4 cup white long-grain rice (not more!)
(I use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice for South Beach)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or more)

I used my new favorite Crock-Pot 3.5 Quart Slow Cookerfor this recipe.  Any slow cooker that's 3-4 quarts will work.

In small Crockpot, combine beans, tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, Ancho chile powder and Chipotle chile powder. Cook on low for 6-8 hours (or 3-4 hours on high), until tomatoes are disintegrating and beans are starting to fall apart.

When soup has reached the consistency you want, turn Crockpot to high if you were cooking on low. Add 1/4 cup rice and cook until rice is done, about 30 minutes.

Add fresh lime juice and cilantro and cook 5 minutes more.  Serve hot, with additional fresh lime pieces for each person to squeeze into soup and more cilantro if desired.

Stovetop Instructions:
Increase the stock to 2 1/2 cups.  Combine beans, tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, Ancho chile powder and Chipotle chile powder in a 3-4 quart saucepan and simmer on low for about 60 minutes (or until the tomatoes and beans are well done.)  If the liquid has reduced quite a bit, add 1/2-1 cup water, then add the rice and simmer for 30 minutes more, or until rice is tender.   Add fresh lime juice and cilantro and cook 5 minutes more.  Serve hot, with additional fresh lime pieces for each person to squeeze into soup and more cilantro if desired.

South Beach Suggestions:
Soup like this with a lot of low-glycemic ingredients and just a little rice is a perfect choice for Phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.  Use Uncle Ben's Converted Rice or brown rice to keep this South Beach friendly.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. 

More Meatless Soups with Black Beans:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Spicy Black Bean and Chickpea Soup ~ Local Kitchen
Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup with Cilantro and Green Tobasco ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Spicy Black Bean Soup ~ The Novice Chef
Spicy Butternut Squash Soup with Black Beans, Red Bell Peppers, and Cilantro ~ Kalyn's Kitchen
Korean-Style Black Bean Soup ~ Soup Chick 
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
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More to Chew On:


  1. Excellent Kalyn! Just looking at it is comforting to me:)Riot of flavors and textures.

  2. Kalyn - this looks anazing. Will try this soon, cilantro is my favorite herb too :)

  3. That's good to know about the rice. I bought some Uncle Ben's for a recipe this week and I always feel a little guilty when I buy white rice (I'm not a South Beacher but I try to use 'better' carbs as much as I can). Now I feel a little less guilty.

  4. First - I think the photos are awesome!!!

    Second, I can't wait to try's on tap for tomorrow.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love reading your posts because I always learn something. Thanks for the info on black beans!

  6. I'm so happy that people can tell that this tasted great even though my picture wasn't as clear as I wanted. I guess if I wasn't teaching school all day I would have time to re-shoot if that happens, but by the time I downloaded the photos I had eaten most of the soup!

    Thanks everyone!

  7. I can't wait to try this soup, especially since I just bought a crockpot this weekend! Also, that's neat about Julia Child. I live a block away from the market where she did all of her grocery shopping when she lived in Boston (and where I do all of mine), so I feel a special bond with her.. even though she hated cilantro :)

  8. Kalyn-This looks amazing and we love black beans here. I love your recipes, you know this, but I was wondering-would you consider adding a category to your archives for slow cooker recipes like this one? I would love to have some more healthy crock pot options to try.
    Thanks so much-

  9. Becky, cool that you just got a crockpot. I don't like it for everything, but it's great for soup.

    Brady, funny you should ask that, I'd been thinking about doing it. I don't know that I really am an expert at Crockpot cooking, but I like to do it in the winter. I probably won't get to it until Christmas vacation, but I'll do it then.

  10. Great recipe Kalyn and it looks absolutely appetizing!!!!! Don't worry about the pic!!!! Your words say it all!!!!!

  11. Except for the cilantro part, I loved this recipe. Black beans are one of my favorite American goodies and I'm all for rice in soups. And lime juice sounds fantastic!

  12. Oh yumm! I am always looking for black bean recipes and this looks wonderful! I am going to have to give it a try!

  13. Kalyn, this new heading design (cinnamon) is gorgeous although I also miss the previous one (beans)... Yes, these days I'm thinking of making something from beans, now your delicious soup comes in perfect timing!

  14. ...intuitive ones that swirl around in my brain for a few days and then suddenly I find myself in the kitchen making it without any real consciousness of how I got there.
    Now, if you ask me, and nobody did, that's magic.
    The soup looks so good.

  15. Awesome recipe - I hope that one day I can cook such wonderful dishes as intuitively as you created this!

  16. I sure love black bean soup--and that looks wonderful. Beans and rice go so well together, particularly in soup. And thanks for mentioning my soup!!!! :):)

  17. That's a beautiful sounding soup - and I love that it's already crock-pot friendly!

  18. Gorgeous, Kalyn! Wish I could stop by for a bowl.

  19. Looks tasty! Have you tried freezing this soup? I don't need a big batch for just me, but if it freezes well I want to try it out!

  20. Wow, I just keep getting nice comments on this recipe. Maria, you could definitely freeze this. I might put the cilantro and lime juice in when I thaw it if that was an option. If that's not an option I think it would still taste ok if those things were frozen, but not quite as fresh tasting.

    I had some in my fridge overnight and reheated it in the microwave the next day at school and it was great.

  21. A very perfumed soup. This is very nice. Strong for the winter and enough exotic to dream about hotter places.
    I didn't know for Uncle Ben's Rice. It's my favourite rice when I want to use the white one because its "etuvation" (I don't know I to say it in english) keeps lots of the minerals which were in the bran.

  22. kalyn, this soup looks wonderful. just wonderful!!! i think you should have entered this into the super souper challenge last week!!!

  23. If your struggling to find authentic black turtle beans in UK. I use they sell Black Turtle beans, Pinto beans and even authentic masa harina for making tortillas. Great company!

  24. I found your site through a link on Simply Recipes. I just made this soup, and I have to tell you that it is the best black bean soup I have ever had. The balance of flavors is perfect. Thank you for sharing this - it's an "instant staple" in my house.

  25. Rose, so glad to hear you liked it so much. It's one of my absolute favorites too!

  26. Awesome soup! I made it with some black lager (though any dark beer would work, like a porter or stout) a la Mark Bittman's beer-glazed black beans. I served it with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and blue tortilla chips. I love that it was easily vegetarian and I just used veggie bouillon instead of the chicken stock. Thank you for this recipe!

  27. It's only in the past couple of years that I've become a slow cooker cook, so I missed this recipe the first time around. I love it when bloggers bring some of their favorite old recipes up to the present, because they're new to me.

  28. Thanks Lydia! I've made this over and over and it's always been a hit.

  29. It must be perfect for big hunger. Looks tasty :)

  30. Thank you, this is definitely a must try item. It works for my South Beach Diet and my daughters Vegetarian Lifestyle and I'm sure they guys will like it too!

  31. No wonder you serve up this at parties and I bet it well recieved. It looks wonderful.

  32. I make a meatless chili that is very similar. I don't use rice. But I do use lentils.

  33. I love a good spicy black bean soup! How delicious us this?!

  34. This does sound like a great black bean soup and we have been on a bean kick! Love the different chile powders you used.Thanks!

  35. It looks fantastic! I hope it's not just because of the well taken photos.. :) We'll see it tomorrow :)

  36. This recipe looks delicious! I try to use dry beans instead of you have any reccomendations on how to convert the recipe for dry beans? How much bean-liquid would I need to use?

  37. Without experimenting I wouldn't know exactly how to convert this to a recipe that starts with dried beans. I would probably cook the beans first, and then use them in the recipe. I think one can of beans is about 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans.

  38. I made this today and it is wonderful! Thanks again....

  39. This soup was delicious! I added an extra can of beans and thought it turned out great. I've been trying to use my slow cooker more lately. I recently included this recipe in a weekly meal plan on my blog, Thank you!

  40. Emily, glad you liked it and thanks for the mention!

  41. This looks awesome! I can't wait to make it. And I pinned it to my board for my blog, The Jenny Evolution.

  42. While cooking this, the ratio of beans to tomatoes looked like the tomatoes were a bit to much. I should have added another can of black beans but wanted to do the recipe as posted. My husband had it and said it was wayyyyyyyy to many tomatoes. He said he couldn't really taste anything else but tomatoes. If I do make again I will use only 1 can of tomatoes.

  43. Patty, I've made this for probably 100 people and never had a complaint, but everyone has their own taste, so you should make it the way you like it.

  44. Honestly this tasted gross, too watery and too many tomatoes. I'll never make it again

  45. Lindsey, sorry you didn't enjoy the recipe. Did you make it exactly as written? I'm very surprised, because I've made this every year for my annual holiday soup party and it always disappears completely. I do think the cilantro and the lime juice at the end are key to the flavor, but I love it with those.

  46. I can't wait to try this! I have some dried black beans soaking now, and I'm going to use this as a base recipe and add some extra stuff I have in the fridge, like carrots and green and red bell peppers. And maybe a canned chipotle pepper or two.

    Also, I want to mention that as written, this soup is not vegetarian like the title suggests, because of the chicken stock/broth. You mentioned that subbing vegetable broth would make it vegan but that would be necessary to make it vegetarian as well.

    Obviously any vegetarian will know to make it without chicken stock, but I cringed a bit as I imagined well-meaning non-vegetarians making this soup as a "vegetarian" option for parties, etc... and the unsuspecting vegetarians eating chicken stock without knowing it!

    I've been a vegetarian for a long time and this is a surprisingly common misunderstanding... many times I've had to politely decline a "vegetarian" dish for this reason. I'm especially wary of soups (and never eat them at restaurants unless they're explicitly marked as vegetarian).

    Anyway, point is if you are making this soup for the vegetarians in your life, please use vegetable stock instead! And thanks for making us delicious meat-free foods. ;)

  47. Maybe I am giving people more credit than I should, but I guess I assume that when I specifically mention vegetable stock, people will know to use it for vegetarian *and* vegan versions. But you're probably right. Will edit so that is clear, thanks.

  48. I'll be trying this one, too! Thanks for the Spicy Sauteed Chick Peas with Ground Beef and Cilantro recipe. I really want to get back to Meatless Mondays. I love you recipes! I'm definitely bookmarking your site.

    1. Thanks Melissa, I love, love, love this recipe. Hope you enjoy it!


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