One Pot Wonders

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By Jonathan Able

Can I tell you something?

I hate doing dishes. It’s my least favorite chore. I will dust, vacuum and clean bathrooms until my heart’s content before I ever opt to scrub a dirty dish. In fact, even the dishwasher is a struggle for me. Loading dishes in, and then putting them back up- let’s be honest, who wants to waste valuable time laboring over that? Not me.

That’s why I love cooking one-dish dinners. Less hassle when you’re cooking, and cleanup is usually a breeze.

So, when I stumbled across Paula’s recipe for Black Bean Soup in one of her magazines, it looked like the perfect candidate for my simple kitchen. You just throw everything in a big pot! What could be better? It’s also the perfect dish for fall; the red pepper gives it just enough heat to warm you up. You can even make it vegetarian by omitting the bacon, and subbing the chicken broth for either water or vegetable broth.

The original recipe serves four, but I decided to take it one step further. I cut the recipe in half, because I didn’t want to eat off of it for the rest of the week with tons of leftovers, and what I ended up with was two servings (or one really hearty serving, depending on the eater).

Here’s the reduced recipe, and my notes:

Black Bean Soup
Makes 2 servings

2 slices of bacon, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
¾ cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
Pinch of red pepper, or more to taste
Pinch of salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Garnish: sour cream, shredded cheese, and fresh cilantro (if desired)

1. In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add onion and garlic to bacon and drippings in pan; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until onion is tender.

2. Add beans, chicken broth tomato paste, ground red pepper, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. In the container of a blender, place half of soup. Remove center piece of blender lid to all steam to escape; secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid to avoid spills. Process until smooth. Stir puree into reserved soup. Stir in cilantro just before serving. Garnish and serve.

My notes: I found that I had to keep adding chicken broth to the soup to keep the consistency I wanted. Altogether, I probably used closer to what the original recipe called for, or about 1 ½ cups of broth.

Also, I know I claim that this is a one-dish recipe, but then the directions call for half of the soup to be blended.  However, you could totally get away without blending half of your soup. I opted to try it out, but honestly, I think I almost would have preferred not doing so. It’s just a matter of taste.

Final note, I don’t care for cilantro, so I just omitted it. The garnish that you see in the photo is actually parsley.

As you can see, you can really make this soup to your own tastes.


Jonathan Able, Online Editor for, is a Savannah transplant and received a BFA in Theatre from Valdosta State University where he spent many hours memorizing scripts and working on his Meisner technique. Recently, he has decided to tackle single-handedly a formerly unknown territory...the kitchen...and he looks forward to sharing his adventures here. His favorite color is green and he's never met a carb he didn't like.
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Reader Comments:


I omitted the bacon and substituted olive oil to make this more friendly and used an immersion blender to keep the dirty dish count low. FANTASTIC. I am eating the second serving right now. Great recipe!

By Brandy on November 07, 2011


Love one dish meals when cooking for two. I put a candle 6 inches from my cutting board to take away the onion fumes. It tears and I Love onions...Terry

By Terry Rohslan on October 13, 2011


Love those one dish meals since now it is just my husband and me. When I cut up onions, I light a candle and place it about 6 inches from my cutting board. It takes the fumes from the onion and it doesn't make my eyes burn. Try it sometime. Pass the word. I don't know how to get the information out to people but I'll bet Paula can. Thanks Terry

By Terry Rohslan on October 13, 2011


My husband loves black bean soup so I will give it a try. Also Paula we as a family and also my friends love your baked spaghetti casserole. Made it for a lunch for some friends and they asked for the recipe. Have made lots of wonderful things from your magazine. Lil Lane October ll,2011

By Lil Lane on October 11, 2011


Hey Cheryl, You're totally right! I thought about freezing some for another day, but I wanted to try my hand at cutting the recipe in half. Maybe next time I'll freeze it!

By Jonathan Able on October 05, 2011


Hi Paula, Would you.create more one pot menus for two? I too HATE to do dishes!! Thank you so much!

By Lorna on October 04, 2011


You could have made the full sized recipe then froze left overs so you had dinner for another night.

By Cheryl on October 04, 2011


Love your show Paula, I have used many of your recipes, and my family loves them, my favourite is the Gorilla Bread. YUM!!!! I also appreciate the fact that you are not afraid to use butter.

By Johanna Collier on October 04, 2011


One of my sons(3)favorites when growing up was a Hamburger and Cornbread cassrole. It was made with green beans, turnips, potatoes, onion, hamburger, & seasoning. Being from west TX we liked it spicy. cook all ingredents til adente, place in baking dish make a pan of cornbread, pour on top and bake sprinkled with cheese when bread is done. I always pealed the turnips and cut them up like the potatoes, they ate the whole thing.

By Betty Nunnelee on October 04, 2011


I am looking for a recipe for potato cheese soup. Can you help me out?

By Karla on October 04, 2011


I'll be making a batch this coming weekend! I had a can of black beans in the pantry that I'd been trying to figure out what to use it for. Thanks so much!!!

By OcalaMom on October 04, 2011


The recipe looks delicious and simple. Thanks for posting! Cindy

By Cindy Edwards on October 03, 2011

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm