Black-Bean Soup with Ham


If you prefer to make a vegetarian version of this soup, you can leave out the ham.


  • 8 ounces cooked ham in one ½-inch-thick slice

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped

  • 1 jalapeno chile, finely chopped (seeds removed for less heat, if desired), plus more for garnish (optional)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • 3 cans black beans (15 ounces each), drained and rinsed

  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, plus sprigs for garnish (optional)

  • 1 lime, quartered (optional)


  1. In a large pot (6 to 8 quarts), brown ham over medium-high heat, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board; set aside.

  2. Reduce heat to medium. Heat oil. Add onion, and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add jalapeno, garlic, cumin, and oregano; cook, stirring, until fragrant and garlic is tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans and 4 cups water. Simmer 10 minutes.

  3. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro leaves. Using an immersion or regular blender (work in batches so as not to fill regular blender more than halfway), puree soup until smooth. Add more water to thin soup, if desired.

  4. Ladle soup into bowls. Cut ham into 1/2-inch cubes; sprinkle over soup. Garnish with jalapeno, cilantro sprigs, and lime wedges, as desired.

Cook's Notes

A handheld immersion blender lets you puree this soup in the same pot it is cooked in.

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