spicy black bean and rice soup

Spicy Vegan Black Bean and Rice Soup

On a whim, I cooked up some dried black beans because I wanted to try out the Lazy Cook’s Black Beans technique described on Serious Eats. I didn’t use the fresh garlic, onion, or orange, just some granulated garlic and onion powder from my spice rack. Even without the aromatics, I have to say I really loved how the beans tasted after cooking, especially with the “gravy” that’s left. They’re much more flavorful than when I soak them overnight and simmer, then drain. I was so impressed that I’d like to actually try their full recipe at some point!

I also made brown rice using my favorite technique: in the oven. I had a vague sense of wanting to make a plate of simple rice and beans, but my mind wandered from that thought. I made up a bowl of beans, rice (made with cilantro and lime), corn, cheese, and taco sauce…a makeshift Chipotle-style burrito bowl. And it was OK, but I was looking for something more interesting.

So I explored the idea of making a soup. I love to have broth-based soups around because they’re filling but not heavy. I wanted to include black beans, rice, onion, cilantro, and lime for sure. And, oh yeah, chipotle powder! I found a recipe that got me in the ballpark, then adapted it for my kitchen from there.

And my expectations were completely blown away. I think it’s the fresh lime juice that puts this soup over the top. It looks very unassuming in the bowl, but tastes incredible. I’ve been having it with a baked potato on the side, but it would be really good with corn bread.

spicy black bean and rice soup

Spicy Vegan Black Bean and Rice Soup

Inspired by Slow Cooker Vegetarian Black Bean and Rice Soup with Lime and Cilantro


  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 c water
  • 1-2 tsp Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  • 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, lightly pureed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 10 oz cooked black beans (or a bit more or less is fine)
  • 1/2 c cooked brown rice
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 c chopped cilantro


  1. Mix granulated garlic, cumin, oregano, chipotle powder, and paprika in a small bowl and set aside. Make a broth by heating the water a couple of minutes in the microwave, then stirring in the vegetable base until it dissolves. Set aside.
  2. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, saute the onion in oil over medium heat until softened. Stir in the spice mixture.
  3. Stir in broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans. Add salt to taste. Simmer for 15 min.
  4. Add cooked rice, simmer 10 min.
  5. Stir in lime juice and cilantro, and simmer 5 min.

The soup is delicious as is, but is also good with some shredded cheese on top.

Spinach, black bean, and yam enchilada casserole

Spinach, Black Bean, and Yam Enchilada Casserole

Recently I made — and fell in love with — Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce. The sauce was so good that I made another double batch of it and added half of it to a simple dish of rice and beans, and saved the other half for…something else.

Today that something else manifested itself in the form of an enchilada casserole loaded with black beans, spinach, onion, cheese, and yam (the orange variety, often called “sweet potato” in the store). I also had some minced cooked carrot that I tossed in, but it didn’t add much to the flavor of the dish, just a few extra vitamins.

Spinach, black bean, and yam enchilada casserole
This casserole is so good I had to force myself to stop half way through eating and snap a few pics

Really, the foundation of this is the sauce and tortillas — the middle could be filled with a big variety of things. Which is one of the things I find so wonderful about casseroles.

This dish was a lot of work, but now I have many delicious meals squirreled away in the refrigerator and freezer.

Spinach, Black Bean, and Yam Enchilada Casserole

Makes 12 portions


  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 medium yam, diced into ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 tsp olive oil, separated
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, cleaned
  • 1 large bunch spinach, rinsed with stems removed
  • 2 c cooked black beans, drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • ancho chile sauce (see recipe below)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salsa, optional

Ancho Chile Sauce

Adapted from Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce

  • 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 2 c water
  • 1 onion, 1/2- to 3/4-inch diced
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 c vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  1. Heat the ancho chiles and 2 c water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, then drain the chiles, reserving 1 c of the cooking liquid.
  2. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat, then add the onion and saute for 1 min. Reduce heat to medium, and add the garlic and salt. Cook 5 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add broth, oregano, and cumin and cook for 8 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
  3. After thickened, pour the onion mixture into a blender and add the chiles and the 1 c of reserved liquid. Allow the lid to vent out the steam while mixing, and place a towel over the lid to prevent splatters. Blend until smooth, then stir in the lime juice. Set aside while preparing the rest of the casserole.


  1. Heat oven to 425°.
  2. Toss yam pieces with 2 tsp olive oil, chipotle powder, and brown sugar. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Roast for about 15-20 min or until browned and softened.
  3. In a skillet, heat 2 tsp of oil and saute the onion for a few minutes over medium high heat, until browned and softened. Set aside.
  4. Using a thin towel, such as a flour sack towel, squeeze out the chopped mushrooms a portion at a time to reduce the water content in them. Then heat 2 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium high heat and saute the mushrooms. Set aside.
  5. Wilt the spinach in a heated skillet. Squeeze out the water and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, stir together the black beans, roasted yam, onion, mushrooms, spinach, and garlic.
  7. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray. Spoon about ⅓ cup of ancho chile sauce in the bottom, then place 6 tortillas on the bottom in a single layer, with edges overlapping so they fit in the dish. Pour the bean mixture over the tortillas and spread evenly. Top with an even layer of the cheese, then the other 6 tortillas. Pour the sauce over top and spread it out to cover all of the pieces of tortilla so they don’t dry out.
  8. Bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, or until edges are darkened and it’s heated through. Serve with salsa.