Santa Fe Corn and Black Bean Soup - Recipe and Instructions

This recipe was featured on foodgawker.com.

I'm shifting writing about my goals to some future date because I am too busy working towards them. One of the unwritten goals is to take better photos for the blog. Also I want to get more How To things up on Foy Update. I've been admiring several friends' blogs. Miranda has some home tea brewing, chickens and gardening all going on over at An Austin Homestead. And Marigold at Hideous Dreadful Stinky! takes the most beautiful pictures - her California home gets the best sunlight. At least that's what I tell myself so I don't feel bad about my pictures. And one other goal, back from December, is to waste less food.

I'm going to bring all three of these goals together in How To Make Santa Fe Corn and Black Bean Soup. This is a stick-to-your-ribs kind of soup. The kind of soup you would never guess is vegetarian, glueten free, vegan and completely fantastic. Yeah, I'm still on a soup kick.

I started by hydrating one pound of dried black beans. Did you know dry beans have better flavor and nutritional value than canned beans? Cook's Illustrated told me so. They also told me if I soak my beans overnight they would cause less magical tooting. I forgot to do that part and I'm impatient and didn't want to wait another day for this spectacular soup.

I over cooked the beans, they are splitting open a bit, but that's fine for this recipe.  It will make the over all texture thicker.

After the beans were hydrated I rinsed and drained them then added them back to the pot with eight cups of water and a cube of boullion. I threw in a three medium potatoes cubed and an onion chopped.

Then I got a little daring. I bought these dried ancho chili peppers at the local co-op a while back. I love the bulk spices section! This soup has kind of a South Western flavor so I decided to add one of these chilis. I chopped it up and the whole kitchen smelled like Battle's BBQ - the best BBQ in Iowa. I might venture to say the best BBQ I've ever had, which honestly isn't saying very much.

I diced the ancho pepper and stirred it in and let the soup simmer for an hour or so. When making Corn and Black Bean Soup the bare minimum simmer time is until the potato is tender about a half hour.  Like many soups the longer you simmer the more rich the flavor. 

Then I chopped up some green peppers and defrosted some corn. Here comes the "reduce food waste" part of this post. The green peppers I used, I found in the crisper drawer and let's just say, they were anything but crisp. I cut out all the bad parts. I'm not willing to show you how ugly they were before, so here's a picture of what was left after I cut out all the mushy, yucky bits. I wasted some but not all of the pepper. In the past I might have just thrown the whole pepper away. See how good I am?

The corn is also a step towards my goal. Jeff's grandparents moved from their house to assisted living last year. Grandma Irene kept a huge vegetable garden for many years and dutifully froze or canned her own personal cornucopia. When they decided to sell their house Jeff and I helped clean it out and we came across a full pantry. Irene was a farm wife and like a good farmer's wife she could make it through the winter on her produce alone. We cleaned out the canned goods and donated most of them to an emergency residence shelter and a food bank. Her deep freeze however? I transferred two or three coolers worth to my parent's deep freeze. We have frozen corn, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, squash and tomatoes.  I stirred in two containers of Grandma Irene's corn into this soup; probably about 4 cups worth of kernels.

Then I tasted the soup. Whoa! That ancho is a spicy baby. I scooped around in the soup pot and dug out all the red pieces of ancho and threw them in the compost in an effort to reduce the heat. I know full well the seeds carry the most heat and they are still in there. I guess for this batch of corn and bean soup I'll have to add some sour cream or plain yogurt when I serve it. The ancho did add a nice smokey flavor. Next time I won't add a full one, or maybe just take out the seeds. I might even not bother to chop it, so if the flavor gets to be too much I can fish it out more easily.

For the finishing touch I stirred in two teaspoons of cumin. Serve with a dollop of sour cream (or plain yogurt in this case) and a sprinkle of green onion snips or even better cilantro.  Now it really is Santa Fe inspired Corn and Black Bean soup. Here's a quick reference for How To Make Santa Fe Corn and Black Bean Soup.

I'm going to eat a bowl with my Ten Grain Rolls. That's the next recipe up on the queue so stay tuned.


  1. Mmm. I love the flavor of ancho chilies. I always want to use dried beans, but I'm terrible about soaking them.

    Also, we do get nice light, but this is one of my big secrets: http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/2006/07/how-to-diy-10-macro-photo-studio.html

    And I do A LOT of Photoshop. This is one of my favorite tricks: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2008/04/by-request-brendan-osheas-post.html
    Although I often don't desaturate the overlay layer. Makes everything pop.

  2. Thanks for the links! I will check them out. I have photoshop on the computer, but usually my tweeking is auto adjust contrast and maybe a little with the levels. New things to learn, hurray!

    We eat a lot of beans. I have learned just start soaking a bag of beans everytime we run out of leftovers and figuring out what to make out of it the next day. That or we eat lentils or split peas which really don't need the over night soaking time.

    I still have three ancho left. What do you cook with your chilis?

  3. Thanks for posting this on my blog. I used the recipe you link to above to start with. I did not use refried beans but instead doubled the black beans. The soup was very good, and I will blog about it later, however it just really tasted like something I could eat in a tortilla with cheese. So, I drained off a bit and it was soooo good as a tortilla mixture. The soup cooked very fast for me too which was a plus! Thanks for sharing!

  4. MMM!! We love black bean soup, it's one of our staples. I haven't added corn before, but really like the idea. Congratulations on the foodgawker submission! I'll admit that I get excited every time I get a "we accepted your photo and it will be on our website shortly" email! Thanks to marigold for posting her "lightbox" information... .my daughter and I will be making one today!!

  5. Anonymous9/29/2010

    Gorgeous, fabulous, delicious! This looks soo good! I love black beans and this soup just looks fantastic!

  6. Yum, yum, and YUM! Oh my goodness I'm going to have to try this...even if I don't like peppers or onions.

    Magical tooting. Too funny. You apparently haven't been to our house. It gets kind of uhh, loud and gross in here. Darn men. Haha.

    Thanks for sharing an awesome recipe!

  7. Anonymous9/29/2010

    Lookin' good! Sounds both delicious and nice and healthy. It'll be a great soup for Fall.

    BTW your pictures look great. I am always striving to take better pictures myself. I live in CA and my kitchen does get great natural light during the day, but it is definitely a struggle for me to take good pictures if dinner is ready after the sun goes down. For those "after dark" food photo shoots I end up having to rely on photo editing to get the light to look right. But I am always impressed by your pictures! :)

  8. I love, love, love black beans....I am going to try this one.

  9. I need to start cooking my own beans too. I LOVE beans, but hate how mushy they are out of the can!

  10. I'm going to be making a light box! Now for the dried ancho chilies, we make an ancho chili sauce for enchiladas. First we re-constitute the chilies by soaking them in a plastic bag, until soft. the remove stem and seeds, and add to sauce ingredients and use the immersion blender or regular blender to puree. check out the recipe for Chicken and Cheese Enchiladas with Ancho Chili Sauce on my blog, http://bakingandcookingataleoftwoloves.blogspot.com/2010/09/he-cooks-to-die-for-chicken-and-cheese.html.

  11. Anonymous9/29/2010

    Very Nice. I'm wondering why the name Santa Fe though, besides the obvious. When I worked at Monterey Pasta Company we made a Santa Fe Angel Hair Pasta and this guy from Santa Fe would call customer service every couple of months and complain that we had no link to the city and should not use its name in our product. It really bugged him, and he might chime in here, you never know.

    Love the recipe,


  12. I read that post on Photoshop and I have no idea what it is talking about. I guess I'm going to have to take a class if I ever want fabulous photos.

  13. Anonymous9/29/2010

    To all bean-lovers gathered here today: I humbly present the fastest and best way to a perfectly-cooked bean.

  14. Looks delicious and perfect for the fall. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Yum! I love corn and black beans, so you've just combined two of my favorite foods. Looks wonderful!

  16. Please "waste" moldy food! Check out this page about mold: http://whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/Mold.htm the fuzzy part is not the entirety of the mold system.

  17. Those are good goals to have, who knew food blogging was so intense?! Have fun!

  18. Foy, your pictures are always beautiful!!! The kind I study to see what I'm doing wrong. I, too, have a huge lighting problem in my kitchen that I can't seem to work around.

    Good luck with your goals!

  19. Oh boy, this looks great! love the soup

  20. Wow, that soup looks delicious. I definitely get on a soup kick too as fall rolls around and I am especially happy that this one is vegan and gluten free .

  21. Foy, I like this recipe. I would probably omit the ancho chile, but I would add some fresh cilantro as it goes really well with black beans. Also, this dish is not vegan if you add sour cream or yogurt to it - just an fyi. ;-) Cheers, K.

  22. Anonymous9/25/2011

    This looks wonderful! I love the contrast of colours and textures in the soup. I want a bowl of this now!

  23. Anonymous8/28/2012

    Thanks for sharing the post. It's so timely since I'm trying difficulties like this website, moreover I'm really intending attempting it for myself.