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November 1, 2011

Korean-style black bean soup recipe


No doubt about it, I love almost every variety of black bean soup I've ever tasted. Black beans have a natural affinity for flavorings from the part of the world in which they originated -- South America -- so most black bean soup recipes call for cumin, or chile peppers, or tomato. Asian cuisines do something entirely different with black beans; they ferment the beans and crush them into sauces. Adapted from Lynn Alley's 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker, this recipe is more in that spirit. Seasoned with sesame oil and soy sauce, this nutty and salty and ever-so-slightly sweet black bean soup catches you by surprise, in a good way.

Korean-style black bean soup

Adapted from 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker, this recipe serves 6-8.


2 tsp canola oil
1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups water
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp agave nectar
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp sliced scallions (green parts only)
4 tsp toasted sesame seeds


In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat, and sauté the onion until translucent, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger paste, stir, and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the black beans, water, soy sauce and agave nectar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from heat, and pureé the soup with an immersion blender. (Or, let the soup cool for a few minutes, and process in batches in a blender or food processor.)

Return the soup to the stove top, and stir in the sesame oil. Heat gently for 1-2 minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with scallions and sesame seeds.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: janet @ the taste space | November 1, 2011 at 01:42 PM

I've never had an Asian black bean soup.. I am so curious to try this! :)

Posted by: SallyBR | November 1, 2011 at 02:24 PM

Lydia, my Mom used to force me to eat black bean soup when I was a child - usually on Fridays...

amazing how it made me resist trying it was a grown up, or making some myself.

But your Korean version makes me forget the past! ;-)

Posted by: Mary-Rose | November 1, 2011 at 03:22 PM

What is your suggestion for making ginger paste. I suspect it would be better to make at home than to buy commercially.

Posted by: Lydia | November 1, 2011 at 03:33 PM

Janet, I was surprised at how unusual (and delicious) this soup was. I always go towards Mexican spices with black bean soup, so this is a real departure.

Sally, food memories are powerful, aren't they? I think if you closed your eyes and tasted this soup, you might not even know that it's made with black beans.

Mary-Rose, I always use store-bought ginger paste, but if you don't have it, just use finely grated fresh ginger root and a pinch of salt.

Posted by: susan g | November 3, 2011 at 10:39 PM

Wonderful soup! I did do some reverse engineering (sort of), and used aduki beans, and added some Korean hot sauce at the end. Oh, and for the garlic and ginger, used the combo paste from the Indian market. We'll do this again, and again...

Posted by: Lydia | November 4, 2011 at 08:57 AM

Susan, what a great "engineering" of the basic recipe! I never keep aduki beans in my pantry -- don't know why not -- but I'd love to try this soup with them. I do keep black beans, either canned or cooked in the slow cooker and frozen.

Posted by: susan g | November 4, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Lydia, I actually have some black beans on hand and was ready to use them, but a friend bought some dried sprouted adukis. They didn't cook up for her and she brought me a cup to test. And I have more just plain dried ones to use up too. To some degree, a bean is a bean, but, well, in Asian medicine, adukis are good for the kidneys... but beans are good for what ails you anyway!

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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