Slow-cooker Black Bean Soup with Avocado Crema is an easy, hands-off meal that lets your crockpot do most of the work. The avocado crema adds a delightful, tangy creaminess to the soup. A perfect lunch, light dinner, or side-dish.
Bean Soup in the Crockpot: a lifesaver for busy weekdays
Before I dive into this Mexican-inspired black bean soup slow cooker recipe, I have to explain one of my favorite strategies for delivering hearty, wholesome meals during the workweek. That strategy is to put dried legumes into a slow-cooker with broth, herbs, spices, aromatics, and other yummy stuff, set it on low, and then go away for 8 hours.
When I come home, I have a delicious, savory soup waiting for me. It’s so incredibly easy and healthy, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this since…forever.
My favorite products for pulling off this type of dinner are from Bob’s Red Mill: the lovely folks at BRM sent me a fabulous gift box a while back—I felt as giddy as a kid opening Christmas presents.
I have had a crush on this company for years because of its great products and wonderful back-story. Stated briefly, BRM is an employee-owned family business founded by Bob and Charlee Moore. Charlee’s mission to feed her family with healthful, wholesome foods reminds me of my own revelations about healthy eating made simple, which ultimately gave rise to Flipped-Out Food.
That brings us back to my black bean soup recipe…
Making Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup with Avocado Crema
Making this soup involves about 10 minutes worth of prep in the morning. I slice and chop a few veggies, wash and pick through the beans, and add everything to the crockpot. Because the beans cook low-and-slow all day, there’s no need to soak them overnight (in fact, doing so will likely yield mushy beans!).
I often prep vegetables for the garnishes in the morning as well. This includes chopping cilantro, slicing jalapeno, and chopping onions or scallions, for example. Then, I put them all on a platter or plate, cover with plastic wrap, and keep everything in the fridge.
After 8 or so hours, I remove the orange rind, ham hocks, and bay leaves from the beans. Then I zap the soup with my immersion blender. Sometimes I add back some meat picked off the ham hocks, sometimes not.
Finally, I make the avocado crema. This is a simple matter of (CAREFULLY!) pitting and peeling the avocado, and adding it—along with Mexican crema, cilantro, lime, salt, and pepper—to the blender cup of my (rinsed) immersion blender. I do a quick puree until the mixture is smooth.
Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup with Avocado Crema is easily adaptable to a vegetarian diet: simply replace the beef broth with vegetable broth and leave out the ham hocks. You can recapture some of the smokiness conferred by the meat by adding a chipotle pepper to the soup as it cooks. Or, if you’re not a fan of the added heat, simply add about 1/2 tbsp. more of cumin.
That’s it! Easy peasy! Leftover slow-cooker black bean soup freezes well stored in air-tight freezer containers (sadly, the avocado crema has to be enjoyed right away). I hope this is a hit with your family!
I’m sharing my recipe for Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup with Avocado Crema with:
- #CookBlogShare, a great food blogger recipe-share at Hijacked by Twins.
- #CookOnceEatTwice, for recipes that are just as good left-over as they are when you made them, hosted by Searching for Spice.
- #RecipeOfTheWeek hosted by A Mummy Too.
- #BrillBlogPosts, a link party with a variety of lifestyle reads hosted by Honest Mum.
Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup with Avocado Crema
FOR THE BEAN SOUP
- 1 lb dried black beans
- 1 sweet Vidalia onion - sliced into thick rings
- 3 garlic cloves - peeled and crushed
- 1 orange rind
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp ancho chile powder
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp Mexican oregano
- 3 bay leaves
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups beef broth - (or vegetable broth; see Recipe Note #3)
- 3 cups water
- 2 smoked ham hocks - (optional; see Recipe Note #3 and 4)
- 1 chipotle pepper - (optional, see Recipe Note #3)
FOR THE AVOCADO CREMA
- 1 avocado - peeled and pitted
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp cilantro - chopped (optional)
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- cilantro - chopped
- sour cream or Mexican crema
- sliced avocado
- sliced scallions
- sliced jalapeños
- cotija cheese - crumbled
FOR THE BEAN SOUP
- Empty beans into a colander; rinse and pick through to remove any stones or other non-bean material. Add beans to slow-cooker along with all remaining ingredients for the soup. Lid and cook on low for up to 8 hours.
- Remove orange rind and bay leaves; discard. Remove ham hocks: you can pick the meat off the bones and add back later (after pureeing the soup), if you'd like, or leave as-is.
- Puree the soup to your liking with an immersion blender (see Recipe Notes #1–2). Check seasoning; adjust as necessary. Serve with avocado crema, condiments, and garnishes.
FOR THE AVOCADO CREMA
- Add all ingredients for the avocado crema to a small food processor or into the blender cup of an immersion blender. Blend until smooth. If you like a looser crema, add 1–2 tbsp. water (this will likely be necessary if you use sour cream in place of Mexican crema).
- You can also use a blender, but you must cool the soup first and work in batches. (Hot soups in blenders can cause nasty burns and blender explosions!)
- If you like some intact beans remaining for texture, remove a few cups of beans first and add back after pureeing the rest.
- You can make this recipe vegetarian by omitting the ham hocks and substituting vegetable broth for beef broth. To recapture the smokiness of the ham hocks, add a chipotle pepper to the beans while they slow-cook, OR add an extra 1/2 tbsp. of cumin.
- If you can't find smoked ham hocks, you can use the bone from a smoked ham or simply add some smoked ham cubes (1.5 cups).
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