Smoky Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

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I love this recipe because it’s dead simple, goes from dry beans to delicious soup in a little over an hour, and most of that time is unattended cooking!

Fortunately for all of you I’m not a food blogger worried about SEO, so I don’t have to ramble on to a certain length and can skip straight to the recipe.

Smoky Instant Pot Black Bean Soup

(The starting point for this recipe came from The Little Spice Jar, but I’ve amended it a bit.)

Note: this recipe only makes a small amount. This soup is delicious, I strongly suggest at least doubling it. I generally triple it when I make it.

I keep thinking that I should try adding carrots & celery to the onions and make it a proper mirepoix, but I haven’t done that experiment to see if I can tell the difference. The broth & bullion probably take care of that, anyway.


  • 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • ½ small yellow onion, diced
  • salt, kosher ideally
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) sweet, smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) adobo seasoning (note 1)
  • ½ tsp (3 ml) dried oregano. Mexican would be best, but don’t sweat it.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ tsp (8 ml) Better Than Bullion Roasted Garlic (note 2)
  • 3½ cups (825 ml) water or vegetable broth (note 3)
  • 8 oz (225 g, a bit more than 1 cup if you lack a scale) black or flor de mayo beans



  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (pickled is fine)
  • ¼ - ½ tsp (3 ml) cayenne pepper
  • ¼ - ½ tsp (1-3 ml) liquid smoke



  1. Set the Instant Pot to sauté, add the oil, wait until shimmering.
  2. Add the onions (and jalapeño, if using) with a hefty pinch of kosher salt to sweat. (Less hefty if table salt)
  3. Stir often until the onions are translucent and starting to brown. Every recipe ever lies about how long onions take to cook. Say 5-20 minutes. Just watch them. You’re almost at the hands-off phase, I swear.
  4. Add the garlic cloves and stir frequently for another few minutes.
  5. Add the spices and stir for 10-15 seconds until fragrant

Pressure Cook

  1. Add the liquid to the pot to keep the spices from burning, followed by all the other ingredients.
  2. Cover & seal the Instant Pot
  3. Cook on Manual High Pressure for 42-45 minutes. Older & organic beans may need longer (note 5)
  4. Allow a 10 minute natural release, then a quick release
  5. Blend to desired consistency with an immersion blender, holding some in reserve if you desire. (You can also just use a wooden spoon if you like it really chunky or don’t have an immersion blender.)


  1. If serving immediately, let sit for at least 15-20 minutes to thicken. It will also thicken quite a bit more in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Top with whatever you want. I’d suggest some combination of a squeeze of lime, pico de gallo, crema (or sour cream in a pinch), chopped cilantro, and/or (Casa Sanchez Thick & Crispy) tortilla chips. Or plain. The soup stands on its own pretty well.


Note 1:
You can certainly buy adobo, but if you don’t have it, you might have the component parts in your spice rack already. The first time I made the soup I discovered we were out of adobo, but found a recipe online. The homemade was better than what we’d been buying. ↩︎
Note 2:
Any Better than Bullion flavor will work here, but I love garlic and this is pretty much the only way to not have the garlic flavor completely disappear in the Instant Pot. Other bullion would probably also work, and if you’re using a strong broth this may be optional, but I have never tried it that way.↩︎
Note 3:
Some combination of broth & water works fine. When I’m tripling the recipe I generally use 2qt of broth topped off with 2 cups water. ↩︎
Note 4:
This smoked habanero sauce is tha bomb! We discovered it on our trip to Belize last year when we did a sauce tasting at their San Ignacio location. I’ve been told it can be found at Mollie Stone’s in Oakland (the real one). It’s almost certainly available online. You will not be disappointed if you can score some. If not, the alternative recipe is what I used to make before we went to Belize. It’s a different soup, but still tasty. ↩︎
Note 5:
The first couple times I made large batches of this soup the beans were still not done after 45-46 minutes. Now I just set it to 48 minutes and blitz the shit out of it with the immersion blender when finished. Get to know your beans, they’ll thank you. ↩︎

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This page contains a single entry by Erik Ogan published on April 20, 2020 6:23 PM.

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