Black bean soup that's nutritious, delicious and can feed a crowd for pennies a bowl.

Vegan Black Bean Soup

  • 16 ounces of dried black beans: $1.24
  • 2 yellow onions: $0.85
  • 3 cloves garlic: about $0.15
  • 4 stalks of celery: about $0.25
  • 3 carrots: about $0.20
  • 4 stalks of celery: about $0.25
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley: about $0.20
  • 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes: $0.69
  • 1 quart of vegetable stock: $1.99
  • 1/4 cup of vegetable oil: about $0.12
  • Salt, pepper and spices: no more than $0.15
  • 6-8 cups of water:  $0.00

And there you have it. A hearty pot of vegan black bean soup, about 10 servings, for $6.09. Anyone wanting to go the traditional ham bone or pork hock route could switch out the vegetable stock, which would up the total cost to about $8.

Our church has suggested a few Lenten challenges, and among them is an attempt to live for a week on the dollar amount allotted for food stamps — joining the likes of  Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., who carried out a well-publicized campaign to do the same thing a few months ago. For our current household of three, that would amount to about $90.  While I thoroughly believe that every effort to raise awareness about the reality of poverty and to get some solidarity going is a good thing, I’d love it if this sort of exercise was positioned not as a pre-ordained mission to prove the impossibility of it all, but as a deep dive into the basics. Just to be clear, I have not yet taken on the challenge. At this point, I am still skirting the periphery and engaging in a few rants, as I am wont to do. Next on my list is a lentil soup, and beans and rice later in the week.

A crowd-pleasing pot of black-bean soup that's even better on day 2
A crowd-pleasing pot of black-bean soup that’s even better on day 2

I totally get that a food budget that’s somewhere between six and seven dollars a day is a paltry sum by anyone’s standards, and for Welfare recipients, it’s not a fun exercise that ends after a week. I also get that most of the packaged stuff on the store shelves that is heavily marketed, is over-priced, artery clogging, meal-in-a minute junk that gets us away from the joy of cooking and sharing a meal. For most of us, an exercise that leads to the clearing of clutter out of our cupboards would lead to a better quality of life on many levels.  I’ve had the great fortune of witnessing how to feed a family from  a mother who did not wallow in a sense of scarcity on account of a slim budget. Instead, it was an opportunity to eat better. That’s a priceless advantage that could not be duplicated by a doubling or a tripling of the weekly food stamp allotment. So Mom, this one’s for you.


  • 1 16 oz. bag of dried black beans
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 cups water


  • Boil 2 quarts of water.
  • Empty beans into a colander and sort through to remove any pebbles or bad-looking beans.
  • Pour beans into a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to soak for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Drain and rinse soaked beans. Add to a large stock pot and cover with 1 quart of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium.
  • Heat 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add onion, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, and cumin and cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add parsley and cook for another minute.
  • Add vegetables to the stock pot along with tomatoes and cups of water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and continue cooking for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Once beans are soft, remove from heat and add another 2 cups of water to help cool soup prior to blending. Allow soup to cool for another 10-15 minutes and then partially blend to achieve an even consistency
  • Reheat.

Serve warm.



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