One of my favorite ways to cook collard greens—and the best way to get my daughter to eat them—is to simmer them in soup. There’s something magical about adding a huge pile of greens to a pot, an amount so big that the lid can barely be squeezed shut, and then coming back a few minutes later to find that the greens have melted into the soup. It’s a disappearing act that intrigues even my greens-hating daughter, who always wants to be the one to add the greens and impatiently waits until it’s time to remove the cover and reveal the “miracle.” The most miraculous thing about the whole transformation is that she eats more greens because of it. She can’t quite bring herself to “like” them, but she’ll tolerate them if she’s had a hand in their preparation.
I’ve cooked collard green soups with white beans, with black-eyed peas, and with no beans at all, but never with black beans until recently. I wanted to do something a little different than my Stormy Black Bean Soup (still my favorite) and settled on a combination of seasonings based loosely on Jamaican jerk seasoning—allspice, nutmeg, thyme, and pepper—with a little ginger thrown in for fun. What holds it all together, though, is the sweetness and acidity of orange juice, added just at the end of cooking. Try it with fresh-squeezed juice, if you have it.
A word about chili powder: In the U.S., chili powder can have a couple of different meanings. In most grocery stores, the chili powder that you find in the spice aisle is a combination of powdered chilies and other seasonings, including cumin and salt. What I used in this recipe was a pure chili powder—ground chile peppers and nothing else—and if you read a lot of ingredient labels, you may be able to find it marked simply as “chili powder,” but more often to get it you have to buy a specific type, such as Ancho chile powder. (Note: If you buy chili powder in an Indian grocery, it will be hot; I find it hotter than cayenne.) I used Ancho here because it’s mild and delivers a chile flavor without heat (I used a little chipotle for that), but feel free to use whatever chile powder you like, as long as it’s pure; the other spices in American chili powder will change the flavor of the soup.
Tropical Black Bean and Collard Green Soup
- 1 pound dried black beans (about 2 cups)
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 3 ribs celery , diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 tablespoons ginger-root , minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Ancho chili powder (or other pure, mild chili powder)
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup carrots , diced or sliced
- 2 cloves garlic , minced (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- additional chili powder , to taste
- salt , to taste
- 12 ounces collard greens , cut into bite-sized pieces (or use the greens of your choice)
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 orange , sliced, for garnish
- Rinse the beans and pick over them to remove any debris. Cover with water and either allow to soak at least 8 hours or do a quick soak by bringing to a boil for 1 minute and then allowing to soak for an hour. Keep soaking until you are ready to cook, and then drain the soaking liquid.
- Heat a large pot or pressure cooker; spray lightly with olive oil if desired. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
- Add the drained beans, 7 cups of water (6 if pressure cooking), thyme, chili powders, allspice, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil.
- If pressure cooking, lock on the lid and bring to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 9 minutes. Remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally.
- If cooking in a regular pot, simmer until beans are very tender, 1-2 hours depending on your beans. If beans seem too dry, add additional water.
- Once beans are tender, puree using a hand blender or in batches in a regular blender. Return to pot and add remaining ingredients, except orange juice, and add salt and chili powder to taste. Simmer until carrots and collards are tender. Add orange juice just before serving. Serve garnished with orange slices on top or on the side.
Nutritional info is approximate.
JimmieOctober 6, 2010 at 9:01 pm
Okay, I spent two days making this soup. I love black beans and I love collard greens.
OMG – this was like trying to eat weeds in mud. My husband thought I was trying to punish him for something!
What a waste of good ingredients.
KatieJanuary 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm
Trying it right now!
There is a website that has copied this recipe to the letter.
I found it at :
MeAugust 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm
Cook this weekend
JanetJanuary 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm
Eating greens (other than spinach) is rather new to me. I had access to a lot of kale and mustard greens in the fall, so I blanched and froze several bags worth. I think I’ll give this recipe a shot. Question for you–do you have any idea how much to use of frozen greens when a recipe calls for X ounces? I don’t have a scale, so was wondering cups maybe–of course they are already wilted (like a bag of frozen spinach) and the tough stems have been taken out.
Susan VoisinJanuary 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm
My guess is that you will need 3-4 cups of wilted greens to equal a pound of fresh. Rather than measure, you could add just as much of them as you want.
megFebruary 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm
just ate this delish soup for dinner! it was so yummy! i hadto tweak a bit… used some chillies in adobo i had frozen and used alittle liquid smoke and reg paprika. it still turned out great… also, i only blended half the soup bc i still like to bite into some of the beans. great soup!
nicoleApril 3, 2012 at 8:45 pm
Hey Susan, I was just wondering if this is a relatively hearty soup or not? It appears to be from your photos, but I just wanted to confirm whether or not it is. Thanks!
Susan VoisinApril 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm
Yes, I would say it’s pretty thick and hearty. Hope you enjoy it!
MaryJune 23, 2012 at 3:08 pm
If using canned black beans should they be rinsed before adding to the recipe?
Susan VoisinJune 23, 2012 at 3:09 pm
Yes, I always drain and rinse canned beans before using. You’ll probably need 4 cans.
Amy CardinalOctober 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm
My husband and son absolutely LOVED this soup! However, not sure what I did but it was way to spicy for me! I couldn’t even eat it. But I was able to taste it before the spiciness kicked in at the first bite and it was delicious. Then it hit me. Ha ha!
LAOctober 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm
I made this today with pinto beans and spinach and tossed in a couple of bouillon cubes. SO good !
JessicaMarch 31, 2013 at 4:23 pm
I as just wondering why the sodium content is so high per serving?
Susan VoisinMarch 31, 2013 at 6:30 pm
78 mg is very low! Sodium occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, and it would be hard to find a recipe with less sodium than this.
PamDecember 26, 2014 at 4:42 pm
I thought the sodium content was high because I mis-read this nutritional info: “78.1mg sodium, 1012.4mg potassium.” Thought it was “sodium 1012.4.” Knew you wouldn’t post a recipe with over 1,000 mg of sodium so re-read, found my error.
Stephanie WatsonApril 13, 2013 at 4:00 pm
What would I need to change to use canned black beans?
Stephanie WatsonApril 13, 2013 at 4:04 pm
Sorry I see the answer to my question 4 cans of beans,drained and rinsed, plus four cups of water. Thanks!
Bill RNovember 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm
Your list of ingredients. Ha ha.
I had a pound of beautiful fresh collards and this recipe came up so I added (in my case) frozen cooked kidney beans and the result was wonderful. I immersion blended with half the beans and added the rest whole. I tend to use recipes as guides and ingredients whatever is at hand. This one turned out great. Cheers.
CheryNovember 22, 2014 at 7:05 pm
This is such an interesting recipe! I had some Roman beans left from making the pasta/kale soup a while ago that I kept in the freezer, so I used that and 3.5 cups of homemade veggie stock. It came out a little bit thin but still yummy. Too bad there are folks who don’t seem to enjoy this.
PamDecember 26, 2014 at 4:35 pm
Susan, thanks for a great recipe! I didn’t have dried beans so used 3 cans of black beans & 1 can of pinto beans. Used an immersion blender so half the beans blended to thicken the soup, the other half were intact. Only changes were a little cider vinegar and a few drops of liquid smoke. Great healthy winter soup!
MicheleOctober 5, 2015 at 10:27 am
I’m cooking this right now! I had some black beans already cooked so I sauteed the veggies and put them along with everything else into my slowcooker! It smells wonderful already, can’t wait to taste!
LizJuly 26, 2018 at 11:25 pm
This recipe looks great. I’ve been looking for recipes that use collard greens. I have a question about one step in the process. Do you think that blending the black beans is important to maintain the flavor? How do you think it might turn out if you did not blend the beans or blended some and left some whole?
Do you have a favorite immersion blender? That seems so much easier than using a food processor or regular blender.
Susan VoisinJuly 27, 2018 at 7:59 am
I think you could leave some of all of the black beans unblended if you want. I was just going for a creamier texture. I believe my hand Blender is a KitchenAid. It has different speeds, and the blending part detaches from the handle for easy cleaning.
NicholeSeptember 1, 2019 at 2:55 pm
With your core ingredients (sprouted, boiled beans, onion, garlic, carrots, collards) I made a “tropical bean reuben wrapped in carrot flaxi-wrap” and that was delicious! It reminds me of the chickpea salad wrap you reccommend for lunches.
It has your bean salad atop sauerkraut and vegan Russian dressing rolled into a carrot flaxseed meal wrap…