The Foodist: Black Bean Soup With Bananas

Black Beans, onions, cilantro, and bananas are a surprisingly good mixture!

This is a Mezzacello favorite! The Foodist: Black Bean Soup With Bananas. It sounds like a bad idea, but these three tastes go great together! It’s not the only banana based recipe we love though! It’s originally from Jacques Pepin with a few modifications for ingredients and alternates for vegetarians.


  • 1 lb dried black or turtle beans
  • 3 qts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 2 medium onions (12 oz) rough cut
  • 8 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 bananas
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro


  • 8 oz pancetta or very lean unsmoked bacon
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1-14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional)


  1. Remove and discard any damaged beans or debris, and wash the remaining beans well in cool water. Drain the beans, place them in a bowl, cover with cold water, and soak for 3 hours.
  2. Drain the beans, put them in a stainless steel pot with the 3 quarts water, and add the rice.
  3. If using, cut the pancetta or bacon into 1/4-inch cubes and add them to the pot.
  4. Bring to a boil over high heat, uncovered (this will take about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Skim off and discard any foam that rises to the top.
  5. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 1 hour.
  6. Add the onions, garlic, cilantro, cumin powder, tomatoes, and salt to the pot, stir well, and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  8. Using a hand blender, emulsify the mixture in the pot for 5 to 10 seconds.
    • Alternatively, remove 2 cups of the mixture, puree it in a food processor with a banana, and return it to the pot.
    • You want to thicken the mixture slightly while still maintaining its overall chunkiness.
  9. If using, mix together any oil, vinegar, and Tabasco in a small bowl, and add to the soup.

Last Step

  • Peel the bananas and cut them into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  • Toss them in a small bowl with the lemon juice and pepper.
  • Divide the hot soup among four bowls. Top with the banana slices, sprinkle on the cilantro, and serve.
  • Another alternative to banana as garnish, would be chopped boiled egg.


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