Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup

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Making this budget friendly, plant heavy Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup needs to go on the top of your, “to cook” list. It’s a great recipe for the beginner cook to practice chopping, sautéing, and flavoring food to taste. 

This soup is the first recipe I ever developed. I’ve used it across many cooking demonstrations and it’s a big hit every time. Grab all of the ingredients below and get cooking!

white bowls with sweet potato black bean soup on navy cloth

What You Need for Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup

  • Black beans – use canned or you can certainly use dried and make your own. 
  • Canned tomatoes – fire roasted tomatoes have the best flavor, but you can also use regular. Choosing no salt or reduced sodium canned tomatoes is another option so that you have more freedom to salting the soup to taste.
  • Sweet potato – this provides a pop of bright orange color in an otherwise brownish soup. Plus, it adds a different type of texture.
  • Garlic – although this recipe only calls for three cloves of garlic, I always recommend you measure this with your heart and your taste buds. 
  • Onion – because soup without onion just doesn’t feel right to me!
  • Barley – quick barley works well  in this recipe because it comes together much faster. Pearl barley is certainly an option, but it will double the cooking time. If you don’t know, barley is a whole grain providing valuable fiber and nutrients for the body.
  • Water and broth – pre-made broth certainly serves a purpose in the kitchen, but making your own from scratch or using better than bouillon paste/cubes to tailor the amount of flavor you get are both great options.
  • Chili powder, cumin – these spices warm up the soup perfectly.
  • Salt to taste – seriously practice salting to taste. It’s the best way to get to know your food better.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: dice and peel the sweet potato, dice the onion and mince the garlic. 

Step 2: drain and rinse the cans of black beans, and use the back of a fork or a potato masher to mash half of the beans. Alternatively, you can leave them all hole or use an immersion blender at the end of the cooking process and blend half of the soup that way. 

Step 3: sauté the onion, garlic, and sweet potato together in a tablespoon of oil for 3 to 5 minutes. Then add the spices and stir to coat.

Step 4: add the remaining ingredients (black beans (mashed and unmashed), canned tomatoes, barley, and water/broth) and bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, reduce it to a simmer and cover for approximately 10 minutes. If using pearl barley and not quick barley, let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. 

Step 5: taste the soup once it is done, simmering and decide if you need to add salt. If you do add in a pinch or up to a quarter teaspoon at a time, stir it in well and taste it again.

Cooking Shortcuts

When it comes to learning how to cook, people think that they are not supposed to take shortcuts. I disagree! Take all the shortcuts you can and you’ll learn how to put a meal together faster with confidence.

  • Canned beans instead of dried
  • Quick barley, instead of pearl barley
  • Pre-minced, garlic or garlic powder 
  • Store-bought broth instead of making your own or using a bouillon paste or cube

Cooking Tips and Tricks

This recipe is great practice for some basic cooking skills to master. To dice the sweet potato, first cut it in half lengthwise after peeling it. Finding a flat edge when making cuts is the best way to keep yourself safe while chopping produce.

Try to cut the sweet potato in uniform sized pieces for this recipe. Otherwise the bigger pieces may not cook and the smaller ones will overlook and become mush.

Lay the flat side down and cut each half into strips. Then turn the strips the opposite way and dice into smaller cubes. 

Another important cooking tips for all beginners to learn, is never measure or pour spices from a container over a hot pan or pot. The steam from cooking will get into the spice containers and harden/ruin them.

two white bowls full of sweet potato black bean soup on navy cloth on white background


Which Beans Are Healthiest?

This question comes up a lot regarding all sorts of foods, “but which ones are the healthiest?” As a non-diet dietitian I recommend not ranking food from least to most healthy. Yes, different foods have different amounts of nutrient density.

However, ranking them only continues the polarity all or nothing thinking. When we have all or nothing thoughts, it tends to lead to guilt around how we cook and what we eat. Instead, ask yourself which beans do I have on hand or which beans do I enjoy eating?

All beans contain fiber, protein, and varying other nutrients. You can’t go wrong so just pick the ones you like the most.


You can store this soup for 7-10 days in the refrigerator or up to three months in the freezer. Both require airtight containers. If you want to freeze it in one cup servings, try a silicone freezer mold like this one!

However, for the best taste and texture I recommend eating it fresh. The longer you freeze it the more mushy the overall soup becomes.

Serving Suggestions

This soup can hold its own but the perfect grilled cheese or biscuit would pair nicely. On top I like to add plain Greek yogurt, chopped green onions or guacamole. If you need a guacamole recipe try my super simple Four Ingredient Guacamole.

You might also like it with tortilla chips and a little added hot sauce. Enjoy the soup and the money you’ll save with this recipe!

Other Soups to Try

white bowls with sweet potato black bean soup on navy cloth

Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup

This budget friendly, plant heavy Black Bean Sweet Potato Soup needs to go on the top of your, "to cook" list. It’s a great recipe for the beginner cook to practice chopping, sautéing, and flavoring food to taste. 
Print Pin Rate
Course: dinner, Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: black bean sweet potato soup
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10 cups
Calories: 130kcal
Author: Jessi Holden, MS, RDN


  • 2 14.5 oz cans black beans no salt added or reduced sodium
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup barley (if using instant barley, reduce simmer time by 15 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 4 cups chopped spinach
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bouillon cube


  • Chop all veggies and mince garlic. Put the spinach on the side (don't add it until the end). Add all other veggies to a pot with 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Saute for 5-8 minutes.
  • Add spices and mix to coat the veggies.
  • Drain and rinse the black beans. Take half of the beans and mash with a potato masher. 
  • Add the whole beans and mashed beans, tomatoes, water, and bouillon cube to the pot. Alternatively, you can use 1 tsp of better than bouillon paste.
  • Bring to a boil and add the barley. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover for about 25 minutes. If using instant barley, simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • If desired stir in chopped spinach. 


Suggested Toppings:

  • Guacamole or sliced avocado
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Hot sauce
  • Tortilla chips


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 0.02mg | Sodium: 214mg | Potassium: 436mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 6109IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @The.Kitchen.Invitation or tag #TheKitchenInvitation!
signature happy cooking, Jessi

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