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Coconut Kefir Is the Plant-Based, Probiotic-Rich Drink a Gastroenterologist Says Is Stellar for Your Gut


It’s possibly your new favorite smoothie/popsicle/cereal pairing.

If you were to ask a group of registered dietitians for one of the easiest plant-based ways to up the protein levels of just about any recipe, more than likely they’ll all point you in the same direction: straight to the bean aisle at the grocery store.

So, why are these small but mighty legumes the center of so much attention? Well, the humble bean is brimming with nutrition from all angles… plus they’re versatile and affordable (one 15-ounce can retails for about about a buck fifty), especially given how much they have to offer.

Ahead we’re delving into the promising health benefits of beans and how they can serve as an integral foundation for an overall well-balanced diet. Plus, three deliciously cozy black bean soup recipes that cradle your taste buds with every bite.

What are the health benefits of beans?

Beans cover all the bases when it comes to important pillars of nutrition. For starters, one cup of black beans contains a whopping 15 grams of protein (nearly half of a 30 grams-per-meal goal from just one ingredient). The same-size serving also contains 15 grams of fiber, one of the most important nutrients for healthy aging: The gut digests food and absorbs nutrients, and impacts everything from your mood and energy levels to your immune system and skin. (And yes, beans cause a little gas here and there, but most experts agree it’s generally nothing to worry about.)

If that’s not convincing enough, Blue Zones’ founder Dan Buettner says that eating more beans is one of the easiest ways to boost longevity through food, which he noticed when studying the eating habits of some of the longest-living people in the world. That said, it’s important that this doesn’t just apply to black beans: Various types of beans including fava beans, black beans, soy beans, and lentils are also cornerstones of many centenarian diets. No matter which you choose, know that it will be packed with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

How to make black bean soup packed with protein and fiber

20 minute black bean soup
Photo: The Recipe Critic

1. 20-Minute Black Bean Soup

20 minutes to spare? This quick and easy black bean soup recipe by The Recipe Critic is by far one of the simplest ways to get a flavorful bean soup on the table fast. The trick is using pre-cooked ingredients to help save tons of prep time (and dirty dishes to clean). For example, the recipe calls for two cans of black beans, which serve as the base of the soup. Then, you can build upon the flavors with store-bought ingredients such as canned fire-roasted tomatoes, low-sodium veggie broth, diced green chiles, and frozen corn. Easy-peasy.

To add a little extra heat and complexity, there’s a few teaspoons of cumin and chili powder in the mix too. How can I thicken my black bean soup, you may ask? In order to give this healthy soup recipe a rich, creamy texture, the developer blends the unstrained beans in a food processor before combining them with the broth. Not thick enough? Simply blend some of the soup (and all of its ingredients) in a blender or food processor. Conversely, if the homemade soup is too creamy for your liking, adding some extra broth will help thin the mixture and do the trick.

Get the recipe: 20-Minute Black Bean Soup

black bean soup recipe
Photo: Downshiftology

2. Hearty Black Bean Soup

One-pot, vegetarian-friendly, packed with antioxidant-rich veggies, what more could you ask for? This easy black bean soup by Downshiftology checks off all of the boxes and more. Similar to the previous recipe, this one comes together in mere minutes and relies on canned black beans to get the job done (though, we won’t stop you from turning this into a canned baked beans recipe instead).

That said, this recipe will require a little extra digging through the spice rack. It calls for a few extra seasoning spices like dried oregano, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper to achieve its bean soup goodness. The good news? It’s totally swap-friendly. Don’t have oregano? A pinch of dried sage will do. In other words, you can add as little or as many spices your heart desires (or simply what you have on hand). Plus, it’s the toppings—fresh cilantro, red onion, avocado, sour cream, and lime wedges—that really make this recipe shine.

Get the recipe: Black Bean Soup

creamy slow cooker bean soup
Photo: The Seasoned Mom

3. Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup

Calling all Instant Pot lovers. This black bean soup recipe by The Seasoned Mom is the definition of “set it and forget it” and the holy grail of instant pot bean recipes. All you have to do is dump all of the ingredients into a slow cooker, crank it on high, and let the soup cook to perfection in four to five hours. Once ready, feel free to enjoy it as is, or take things up a notch by using an immersion blender to purée the ingredients until it’s smooth, creamy, and oh-so dreamy. Swoon. Don’t forget to make extra, because there are tons of ways to get creative once you learn what to do with leftover soup.

Get the recipe: Smoky Black Bean Soup

Leftover beans? Make these black bean brownies next: