It's possible that the most stressful time of the day in my house is 5 pm. We eat on the early side since our toddler goes to bed at 7, so 5 is generally when I'm hustling to get dinner going. I try my best to have a meal plan in place and to plan ahead, but it's still hit or miss as to how well I pull it off. Which is why I try to rely on my slow cooker as much as I can, especially during the winter. It's such a great feeling—it's the best feeling!—to have dinner taken care of when I get home from picking up my toddler at daycare. No rushing around the kitchen while simultaneously trying to give her the attention that she needs (and deserves).
This works especially well with soups and stews, which tend to benefit from slow cooking at low temperatures and often taste better after sitting for hours. And we love bean soups and chili during the winter because they are filling, warming, and budget-friendly—but also because they are so easy to make.
This recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup is an everything-into-the-pot affair, so it's perfect for assembling before work and enjoying on a busy weeknight. It gets an unexpected flavor boost from orange juice, which lends a slightly sweet note that kiddos tend to enjoy. (It also adds Vitamin C, which is always a good thing at this time of year.) We like it paired with cornbread, with soft strips of corn tortillas on top, or served over rice, but serve it how you think your family will like it most. And depending on the preferences of your little one—which in our house seem to be a moving target from day to day—offer it up in a bowl or with the ingredients separated out with less broth. It's pretty good both ways!
Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup with Citrus
Since the beans are already cooked, this is a relatively short slow cooker recipe—simply let it sit on "warm" until it's dinner time. (It's actually better after it sits.) You can also make this on the stove top. Simply cook the vegetables first in a little canola oil until just starting to soften, add the beans, spices, and liquid, and simmer until everything is tender. You can also puree this soup and serve it in a reusable pouch, adding as much liquid as needed for the desired consistency.
Time: 5-6 hours on low
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup chopped butternut squash or sweet potato
- 1 can 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup orange juice
- Sour cream or cheese to top
1. Place all ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper as needed, and serve with sour cream shredded cheese as desired.
Add a sprinkle of cilantro on top.
Serve over rice or couscous.
Use pinto beans instead of black.