Spicy Black Bean Soup Recipe from Traverse City’s Dish Cafe

When it’s blistering cold outside, it’s easy to get that “chilled-to-the-bone” feeling. One of the best solutions to stop it? Soup! And The Dish Cafe in downtown Traverse City knows a thing or two about hearty, healthy winter soups that can warm anyone right up. (The cafe’s popular spicy black bean soup recipe is below!)

Owned and operated by husband and wife team, Patty Hickman and Randy Waclawski, The Dish has 40 soups on rotation. Some soups they serve all year round, and others are seasonal.

“Tomato basil is our most popular, but my favorite is the spicy black bean soup,” Patty says. Other popular flavors include tomato-coconut curry, creamy jalapeño chicken, curried chickpea and roasted garlic potato.

“Many of our soups are gluten-free and vegan,” Patty adds. “It is a really great feeling when a customer with special dietary needs asks what we have for them, and often, I can point to three or four soups that fit their diet. With soups, it’s easy to leave out dairy, meat, nuts, gluten, fat and other allergens, while still making them extremely flavorful and crave-able.”

Plus, soups can be hearty AND healthy. “A lot of people just don’t realize how healthy soups can be,” Patty says. “We use a lot of potatoes, beans and tomato purees for our soups. These items help make soup thick without using cream and roux (flour and butter), which is where lots of calories can hide.”

Tips to Make Healthy Winter Soups
Instead of adding extra salt, Patty recommends adding citrus juices or vinegar to help “brighten” up flavors. Additionally, you probably only need a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in your soup batch—even if you’re cooking a large 3.5-gallon recipe.

Other Local Restaurants with Healthy Soups To-Go

  • The Soup Cup, Traverse City

  • Lucky’s Market, Traverse City

  • Oryana, Traverse City

  • Mary’s Kitchen Port, Traverse City

  • Julienne Tomatoes, Petoskey

  • Grain Train Market Cafe, Petoskey

  • Turkey’s, Harbor Springs

  • Conundrum Cafe, Elberta

  • Blue Heron Cafe, Cadillac

  • Ats a Wrap, Cadillac

The Dish Cafe’s Spicy Black Bean Soup (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Here Patty shares her favorite soup recipe from The Dish Cafe. It’s a hearty cold-weather soup recipe with low fat and low-cost ingredients!

Makes 5 quarts (14 servings)





  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 fresh jalapeño chopped
  • 1 dried chipotle pepper (or ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 #10 can of black beans (or 7 small cans, about 100 ounces total)
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 3 ounces lime juice
  • *Garnishes if you choose


  1. In a large soup pot over low-medium heat sauté carrots, celery, onion, garlic and olive oil until soft. Add peppers and dried seasonings and sauté for another 10 minutes.
  2. Add half of the black beans, vegetable broth and water to slowly simmer on low heat for one hour.
  3. Blend soup with a stem blender or in small batches in a blender or food processor. Check for seasoning and add a little salt if needed.
  4. Add remaining black beans and lime juice and allow to cook on low heat for another 20 minutes before serving.
  5. Garnish suggestions: finely chopped red onion, cheddar cheese, crushed corn chips, fresh cilantro, a spoonful of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Any or all would be delicious!