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July 15, 2020

All day Brazilian Black Bean Soup | The Mixing Bowl

This is a popular soup. It was, and probably will be served again, at the Bagelry in Santa Cruz. Judith Mattoon, when she was the head cook there in the 1980s, made a particularly great version. She used high quality orange juice and before serving, puréed half of the soup to make it smooth. She was responsible for many of the soups, salads, spreads and sweets that are still part of the menu. The original recipe came from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook.

This recipe will keep you busy all day. If you start with uncooked beans, you will need to start this recipe early in the day or the day before. The beans need to soak for four hours, then cook for about two hours. Once the vegetables are all added and the soup is cooked, it takes all together about seven hours. During that time, you could also make cornbread.

Sectioning oranges takes a sharp knife and patience. Be prepared to be frustrated by how little actual meat there is. I recommend using Valencia oranges. They have thin skin, as opposed to Navel oranges, and the sections are easier to separate. They do have seeds though, which should be removed.  

Soups are relaxing to make and a good way to use up vegetables. You can clean up as you go along and there is no big flurry of activity just before serving.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup


2 cups dry black beans

3 ½ cups water or stock

2 teaspoons salt


I cup chopped onions

3 cloves crushed garlic

1 large chopped carrot

1 cup chopped vegetables such as celery, bell peppers, zucchini

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

¼ teaspoon red pepper

2 tablespoons cooking oil

10 minutes before serving:

3-4 Valencia oranges, peeled and sectioned

½ cup good quality fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon dry sherry

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice


Sour cream or whole milk yogurt

First prepare the dried black beans by picking through them, looking for rocks and imperfect beans. Wash and rinse in a strainer under cold water to remove dirt. Then, place in a bowl or pot, cover with water, and set aside for about four hours.

Next, to cook the beans, pour off the soaking water and put the beans in a saucepan. Add 

3 ½ cups stock or water, salt and set on a burner at medium high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer over very low heat for one-and-a-half hours. Beans should be cooked but not mushy.

Prepare the vegetables by washing, peeling and chopping. Add cooking oil to a medium sized frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add onions and garlic and cook until the onions start to become transparent. Add the coriander, dried red pepper, cumin and carrots. 

Saute´and stir for a few minutes and then add the other chopped vegetables. When the vegetables are about done, add to the pot with the beans and simmer over the lowest possible heat for about one hour.  

With a sharp knife, remove all the skin from the outside of the oranges. Carefully cut into the sections and scoop out the meat and the seeds with your fingers.

About 15 minutes before serving, add the final ingredients except for the topping. Stir, cover, and let cook for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavors. Add more water or stock if it is too dry. Purée half of the soup with a stand blender or in the blender. Serve with whole milk yogurt or sour cream.


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