Rinse the dried beans inside a colander with cold water. Rinse well and pick out any tiny rocks or twigs that might be in with the beans. Pour the beans into a large bowl and cover with water to about 3 to 4 inches above the top of the beans. Soak 8 hours or overnight. Or, for a quick soak, add the beans to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, over high heat for one to two minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let soak for one hour.
Combine all of the vegetables, spices, vegetable broth and water in a 5 to 7-quart crock-pot. Squeeze in the juice of only ½ the lime, reserving the other half for later. Stir well; cover with the lid and cook on high for 6 to 8 hours.
Once the beans are very soft, add the other half of the lime juice. Blend the soup* with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender in batches; puree until smooth and creamy. Taste the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm with fresh cilantro, jalapeno or any toppings of your choice.
*Pureeing the soup makes the soup really thick. If the mushy look of the black bean soup bothers you, you have options after the crock-pot does its work cooking everything until tender. You don't have to make it all mushy. You can skip the blending and pureeing, and the black bean soup as it is with whole beans, chunks of vegetables and broth. Or, you could go half and half, and only puree half of the soup so that it’s thick and smooth but still has some texture.I was conservative with my toppings, but you can go crazy with your toppings! There isn't much of anything that wouldn't pair well with this soup! Whatever you come up with would be good to me too!This soup is perfect for meal prep and freezes well. I just had the last batch from the freezer for Meatless Monday a couple of weeks ago. It was delicious!Recipe adapted from BudgetBytes.com
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