Black Bean Nopalito Soup

January 25, 2022

bowl of black bean nopalito soup

Soup weather is finally here. In this case, soup is a hearty meal in a bowl with southwest flavors to melt the snow. Snow ice cream would make a fine dessert to accompany this thick soup.

The soup ideal is crunchy, chewy, creamy and spicy. And colorful, since we eat first visually. This Black Bean Nopalito Soup covers all the adjectives. Chewy black beans, crunchy jalapeños, creamy avocado and queso fresco and chile spice. Colorful? The picture says it all.

ingredients for black bean nopalito soup

Soup Making Begs for Improvisation

Save time by using canned beans—no shame there. Besides, dried beans, if old, can take a very long time to cook. Rancho Gordo is a reputable brand of dried beans with chef following—their beans cook perfectly each time since they don’t suffer from lingering on store shelves. Nopalitos (featured in my Goat Cheese Quesadillas) are pickled strips of cactus paddles found in the Latin foods aisles. Sweet or pickled peppers are an acceptable substitute.  Keep some nopalitos in the fridge to make your southwestern dishes feel more authentic. If you can’t find ancho chile powder, use regular chile powder and boost heat with chipotle spice.

pot of black bean nopalito soup

The most difficult thing about making this soup is waiting for your bowl to get filled. Like most soups and stews, flavor will improve after at least an overnight fridge sit. Ultimately, the wait is worth it.

closeup of black bean nopalito soup

Black Bean Nopalito Soup

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes 5-8 large servings


one pound dried black beans*
one large sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, zested on microplane
2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder**
15 ounce jar nopalitos, strands chopped if desired
2 14.5 ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
6 cups best quality vegetable stock
kosher salt
garnishes : sliced jalapeños, sliced avocado, cilantro leaves, crumbled queso fresco
* feel free to use canned black beans, about 4-6 cans
** if you cannot find ancho chile powder, use regular chile powder and consider adding chipotle to increase heat


  1. Cover black beans with water in large stockpot, bring to boil, then let sit off heat one hour.
  2. Alternately, soak black beans with tap water to cover and let sit overnight.
  3. Cook beans before making soup, otherwise acid in the tomatoes will keep them from getting tender.
  4. Drain beans, rinse and cover with water in heavy pot, bringing to boil and cooking on low heat, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender (length of time will vary with age of dried beans).
  5. In heavy stockpot or dutch oven, combine olive oil and onion with large pinch of kosher salt over medium heat; when mixture begins to sizzle, decrease heat to medium low and stir occasionally until onion is tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Add garlic, cumin seed, chile powder and stir until fragrant about 10-15 seconds.
  7. Add cooked beans, nopalitos and undrained tomatoes plus vegetable stock and bring to boil, covered.
  8. Stir, then simmer only heat with very loose cover, stirring frequently to make beans creamy, until beans are very tender.
  9. Adjust liquid as you cook, if you like more broth, and adjust salt at end of cooking.
  10. Serve immediately, or, for best flavor, let soup age overnight in fridge after cooling.
  11. At serving time, garnish as desired with jalapeños, cilantro, avocado and crumbled cheese.
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10 thoughts on “Black Bean Nopalito Soup

  1. Karen Green

    Hi Michele,
    I made the soup with some changes based on what I had available. I added 5 diced rainbow carrots, 1 red pepper, 1 seeded and de- veined jalapeño, 1/2 t. chipotle powder with 1 t. chili powder. I didn’t have any cumin seeds so I used ground. I also only used 4 c. stock (chicken) with 4 cans beans. (The stock and beans were all low sodium.) I wanted to have something pickled in there so I used about 1/2-2/3 c. of diced Famous Dave’s Signature Spicy Pickle Chips. That added a little sweet and spicy! I have only simmered it for a few minutes so far but I just had to taste it. I really like it! Just the right amount of heat for me and I know that my daughter will love it! I am planning on serving it with some corn bread. 🙂 I can’t wait to taste it after it has been in the refrigerator overnight.
    Thanks again for your recipe! ( I think when I do it again I may add more of the pickles.) I love creating from a great outline!

    1. Michele Humlan Post author

      Yayyyyyyyy! The mark of a great cook is the ability to improvise and use recipes as templates. I absolutely love the pickle idea and may add them to my next soup. Thanks, Karen!

  2. Karen Green

    Hi Michele,
    I like the looks of this recipe. Since I will use canned beans, would you suggest rinsing them or not? I will probably make some other adaptions. (I often use recipes as suggestions. 🙂 ) Thanks for this blog. I often get some good ideas and recipes here.
    Hope all is well with you.
    Take care,

    1. Michele Humlan Post author

      Hi, Karen- you made my day! I’m so pleased you’re enjoying the recipes. Our moms would be happy we’re cooking up a storm. I use canned beans all the time in soups and use that nice thick bean juice. I do lightly salt the onion which helps tenderize, but I watch my total salt. You can also use no-salt canned beans. Hope you like this nice winter soup!

      1. Karen Green

        I am planning on making it tomorrow. I will let you know how it goes! Our moms would be happy about the cooking – my mom really enjoyed her time in the kitchen – especially baking.

        Thanks for the tips! I have some reduced sodium beans so I think they will for nicely.

        Keep up your posts! I look at them often. The pics are great, too!


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