When cooler weather finally kicks in, the pace of life seems to pick up. Instead of a little black dress, this is the time of year when you need a little black soup.

High in fiber, with vegetables slipped in with the dried black beans, even smaller servings will keep you full. It’s also cheap – dried black beans are much more economical than canned ones, and you can control the amount of sodium to suit your needs.

This version even has an easy flavor shortcut by stirring in some prepared salsa. Most supermarket produce sections have salsa ready-to-go in tubs, and it’s often lower in sodium than salsa from a jar. (Although that will work, too.)

Toss it all in a slow cooker at the beginning of the day and you’ll have a tasty, filling soup at the end of the day.

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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Black Bean Soup

Adapted from budgetbytes.com.

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 8 ounces dried black beans, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups (1 quart) vegetable broth
  • 1 to 2 cups water, if needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Garnishes to taste: Sour cream, lime wedges and/or chopped cilantro

Place the garlic, onion, celery and carrot in a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker. Rinse the black beans and check them over for any stones. Drain well and add to the slow cooker, along with the salsa, chili powder, cumin, oregano and vegetable broth. Stir well. (Don’t add salt until the end.)

Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 6 to 8 hours. Stir and add additional water if needed. Place 1 to 2 cups of the mixture in a blender to puree (vent the lid and cover it with a dish towel to avoid hot splashes), then stir back into the soup. You can also use an immersion blender to puree about half the soup, leaving some beans whole for texture.

Taste the soup and add salt if needed. Serve warm, topped with sour cream, lime wedges and cilantro if desired. Leftovers will keep, refrigerated, about 3 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Yield: About 4 cups. Per serving (based on 1 cup, without garnishes): 116 calories; 28.3g carbohydrates (13g dietary fiber, 6.1g sugar); 8.1g protein; 1g fat (0.2g saturated fat, 0g transfat); 0mg cholesterol; 966mg sodium.

Notes: Tested using fresh salsa from the produce department, although jarred salsa would also work. Make sure you use chili powder, which is milder than chile powder, which is made from ground dried chiles and is often much hotter.