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Kalyn's Kitchen

Crockpot Vegetarian Black Bean and Tomatillo Soup with Lime and Cilantro

You’ll love the tomatillos in this tasty Crockpot Vegetarian Black Bean and Tomatillo Soup with Lime and Cilantro!

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Vegetarian Black Bean and Tomatillo Soup with Lime and Cilantro
My Dad loved this Vegetarian Black Bean and Tomatillo Soup!

This is a recipe that I came up with in late August, in anticipation of the possibility that having braces might seriously change my eating habits. Although it’s true braces have made some of my favorite foods seem like more trouble than they’re worth, this soup is worth making even if you don’t have a newly-developed fondness for soft foods. The starring ingredient here, and one that makes this a good candidate for Weekend Herb Blogging, is the tomatillos, which my garden is still producing like crazy.

Tomatillos are a member of the nightshade family, along with tomatoes and eggplant. Also called “tomato verde,” they’re an ingredient in many Southwestern or Mexican dishes. And since the host for this Week’s Edition of Weekend Herb Blogging is Susan from The Well Seasoned Cook, and since she has a long-running legume love affair, it seems fitting that there are also black beans in the soup. Here is the new Weekend Herb Blogging index page with all the information you need to participate if you’ve been cooking with some type of herb or unusual plant ingredient this week.

Tomatillos can be used as soon as they fill out the papery husk, but if you get a bit behind schedule on picking them, they’ll start to burst out of the husks, like this. Try to use them when they’re still bright green, as they lose a lot of their tart citrus flavor when they turn yellow.

I wanted the tomatillos to be quite finely chopped here, so I cut slices, then cut the slices into strips, and then into small cubes about 1/4 inch square.

You could probably skip this step, but before I put them in the crockpot, I sauteed the tomatillos in olive oil with some minced garlic.

Crockpot Recipe for Vegetarian Black Bean and Tomatillo Soup with Lime and Cilantro
(Makes about 6 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

1 T olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
8 tomatillos, chopped in 1/4 inch pieces (about 2 cups chopped tomatillo)
1 T finely minced garlic
1 T dried cilantro (optional, but recommended, available from Penzeys)
2 tsp. dried Mexican Oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 cans (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed well
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (or a bit less if you don’t love lime like I do)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish if desired


Chop onions and tomatillos into pieces about 1/4 inch. Heat olive oil in large frying pan, then saute onions and tomatillos about 5 minutes, then add garlic, dried cilantro, Mexican Oregano, and cumin and saute 1-2 minutes more. While vegetables saute, dump beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse until no more foam appears.

Put tomatillo-onion mixture into large 4-5 quart crockpot. (I used a 5 1/2 quart crock pot, but it was not completely full.) Add beans, tomatoes with juice, chicken stock, water, and brown rice. Cook on high for 4 hours (This could also be cooked on low for 8 hours.) Slow cookers can vary, so check and adjust the cooking time accordng to how hot your crockpot gets.)

After 4 hours (or 8 hours if using low) turn the crockpot to low setting, and let it cook 15 minutes to lower the temperature, then add the fresh lime juice and cilantro and cook 10 minutes on low. Serve hot, with additional chopped cilantro for garnish if desired.

This recipe could be cooked on the stove. Follow directions above, but put ingredients into medium sized soup pot and add one cup more water. Cook at very low simmer for about one hour, then reduce heat for five minutes, then add lime juice and cilantro and simmer five minutes more.

Serve hot, with additional chopped cilantro if desired.

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South Beach Suggestions:
With low-glycemic black beans and lots of vegetables, this soup is a perfect dish for Phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet, or any type of low-glycemic eating plan.

More Recipes with Tomatillos:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Tomatillo and Black Bean Salsa
Chicken and Tomatillo Soup
Nick’s Chipotle Grilled Shrimp with Black Bean Salsa
Tomatillo Salsa Verde from Simply Recipes
Roasted Green Tomatillo Salsa from Andrea’s Recipes
Rick Bayless’ Purslane, Tomato and Tomatillo Soup from Kitchenography
Tomatillo Salsa for Hot Water Bath Canning from Tigers and Strawberries
Chickpea and Tomatillo Soup from Cookworm
Pork and Tomatillo Stew from Daily Bread Journal
Simmered Tomatillo-Serrano Chile Sauce from Cafe Johnsonia

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35 comments on “Crockpot Vegetarian Black Bean and Tomatillo Soup with Lime and Cilantro”

  1. Pingback: Friday Abstinence All Year Round? - Catholic Sistas

  2. Megan, the soup has both dried and fresh cilantro, so if you don't have dried I would just use a little more fresh and add when the recipe says.

  3. I don't have dried cilantro, so I'm wondering if I can use fresh? I'm guessing I would add the fresh cilantro toward the end of the cooking time so the flavor is still present?

  4. I used two 14.5 oz. cans, will fix that in the recipe right now and thanks!

  5. Hi Kalyn,

    What size cans did you use for the tomatoes? I bought two 28oz cans but I wasn't sure if you meant two 14.5oz cans. Going to try to make this tonight – don't have a crock pot but from the sounds of it, it will still be yummy.

  6. That is a delectable bowl of soup -I like that you used tomatillos

  7. Miss Penny, glad to hear you liked it. I like the idea of adding some tomato juice too.

  8. I tried this tonight and loved it! This is the first time I have cooked with tomatillos. I added a small can of tomato juice to thicken up the broth.
    Thank you!

  9. soup looks very delicious, a very hearty meal.
    hugs and smiles

  10. pssteve, I can only imagine that the Rancho Gordo beans would make this soup even better. I bought some once when I was in California and now wish I could get them here, but can’t justify paying shipping. Good idea to add chili powder too!

  11. Made this yesterday & just finished it off for dinner tonight. It's a great soup, and I've made a lot of bean soups.

    I used some good dry black beans from Rancho Gordo, soaking them for about 4 hours, then cooking them at a simmer for about 3 more. Drained them and made the soup.

    I also added some chili powder with the cumin.

    Thanks for the great recipe!

  12. Padma, yaaay. I’m so excited to get the methi seeds. The tomatillos are quite tart, almost sour tasting but really a good flavor. I like them a lot. Some people think they taste a little like green tomatoes but I think the flavor is much better.

  13. I am so skeptical of trying Tomatillo, wondering how they will taste? Are they sour or bitter?

    Kalyn, so sweet of you to leave a comment on my WHB entry – Methi Aloo.
    I can send you Methi seeds, don’t worry about purchasing it online. Just send me your address!

    Seriously now I should start thinking to cook with tomatillos

  14. yum! i have never seen such a bright and beautiful green tomatillo here in upstate ny. (shh)

    this recipe is a good starting point for soup season. thank you!

    oh, and i didn’t even notice that you had braces at the blogher boston conference. you go girl!

  15. This sounds so good, Kalyn! A very filling soup, perfect for busy days.

  16. Ohhh that sounds good. Unfortunately we’re out of tomatillo season here and they are very hard to find. But I’ll have to try this next year. 🙂

  17. Pam, I can’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t grow in pots, since they’re similar to tomatoes. Just remember you need to have two of them close together. They’ll need more water in pots, but I think they should grow just fine.

  18. This looks great. This reminds me, I think I asked you in a previous comment on a post if you thought it would be possible to grow tomatillos in pots. I can’t remember now which post it was. So, I’ll ask again (sorry!), do you think they would grow okay in pots?

  19. Kim, this is my favorite kind of comment, where someone has not only enjoyed the recipe but give it their own twist. Thanks for letting me know.

  20. I made this yesterday, and everyone in the family, even the picky eaters, loved it. I added some cubed boneless pork roast seasoned with cumin, salt, and coriander and briefly sauteed. It was even better with a splash of Crystal hot sauce at the dinner table.

  21. Thanks guys, I think tomatillos are so fun to exeriment with. There isn’t really anything else that tastes the same, although the canned ones are very close in flavor. You could make the soup with tomatoes, but the tart flavor of the tomatillos does add a lot. I’d try to find the canned ones.

  22. This looks delicious. I tried to grow tomatillos, and the plant got huge but it never actually produced anything!

  23. Hi Kalyn!
    First – I’m a huge fan, have been following for a number of months now, thanks for all your great recipes!
    Second – can I sub in an alternate for tomatillos in this recipe? They are a touch hard to find in my neighbourhood, or could I do a lesser amount of them + fresh tomatoes?
    Thoughts? Thank you!!

  24. Sounds delish Kalyn!

    I need to use more tomatillas anyway…:)

  25. Perhaps my stash was too old and faded, but I never was wowed by dried cilantro. I know it can’t compete with fresh, but I’m ready to try it again.

    A great soup, Kalyn. I also like that you can crock it and leave it while carrying on w/ you day.

  26. Wow, what a healthy meal! I love black beans and brown rice and all the flavors you put in there. And I really liked the lesson on tomatillos!

  27. Wow – this looks amazing – thanks Kalyn! This will be a perfect follow-up to my other tomatillo experiments.

  28. Peter, tomatillos are so tasty. You have got to try them even if it’s not a Greek ingredient.

    Lydia, hope you like it!

    Health Pro, that was certainly fast. I just posted it at 5:00 A. M. today. I guess that was night somewhere.

  29. Ok I tried it last night…kudos for you and this delicius recipe.

  30. Lucky you, to have so many tomatillos in your harvest! I love tomatillo salsa, and also like to mix the salsa into black bean soup and beef stew. And I’m always looking for new ways to use my slow cooker, so I’m bookmarking this recipe.

  31. I really do have to start cooking w/ some tomatillos and this soup would be a good start.

  32. Liz, thanks. (Sorry I could not publish your other links. If I start letting people do that, I get loads of comment spam. But people can find you from the signature.)

    Maria, that sounds great. I’m lucky to have them in the garden, but tomatillos are worth paying for!

    Katerina, it was an impulse to put the rice in, but I loved the combination with rice and beans.

  33. I love that you used uncooked brown rice in here, I think that is just such a great idea. I need to bust out my crockpot, I haven’t used it for anything in awhile.

  34. This looks great! There’s a wonderful organic produce market on the corner across the street from my apartment. It’s very pricey but they sell great local fruit and veggies in season. They had tomatillos recently and I was dying to try a recipe with them!

  35. Mmmmm I will have to make this. Can’t go wrong with that combination.

    I love soup!

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