Costa Rican Black-Bean Soup With Sweet Potatoes

A comforting black-bean soup gets a kick from jalapeño, garlic, oregano, cumin, and cinnamon.

Two bowls of soup with black beans and sweet potatoes

Makes six servings
Prep time: 10 to 15 minutes, plus time to soak beans
Cook time: 75 minutes


  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onions
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. seeded and finely diced jalapeño pepper
  • 1 tbs. minced fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups dried black beans, soaked, rinsed, and drained
  • 1 6-in. strip kombu
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups diced sweet potatoes (about 2 medium sweet potatoes)
  • 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, and sauté until translucent, about four minutes. Add the jalapeño, garlic, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and sauté for one minute. Pour in 1/2 cup of the broth and stir to loosen any bits stuck to the bottom. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
  2. Add the remaining broth, along with the black beans, kombu, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  3. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover partially, and simmer briskly (bubbles should break the surface regularly) until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in the sweet potatoes and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about seven minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove and discard the kombu, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf.
  4. Ladle 2 cups of the beans and sweet potatoes into a blender and process until velvety smooth. Stir the blended mixture back into the soup and cook until just heated through. Stir in the lime juice. Taste; you may want to add salt and a spritz of lime juice. Top with cilantro and serve.

MS, director of the Healing Kitchens Institute at Commonweal, is the author of several cookbooks, including The Longevity Kitchen and The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, from which some of these recipes are adapted. She lives in San Rafael, Calif.

Photos: Andrea DAgosto; Prop Styling: Alicia Buszczak; Food Stylist: Paul Jackman

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Newsletter Signup
Weekly Newsletter
Special Promotions