Cuban Black Bean Soup

Many years ago my husband and I went to a work party, and the main dish served was said to be authentic Cuban black bean soup. Neither of the hosts were from Cuba, but they did share their recipe for the soup because it was outstanding.

At that time in my life I’d just begun cooking, and hadn’t before been introduced to black beans. Fast forward a few decades, and black beans are my favorite bean, if I was forced to pick one. I love them all, really, but maybe it’s the beautiful purple-black color that makes them so unique. They’re sometimes called turtle beans.

Black beans are prominent in Southwestern-inspired dishes, Latin American dishes, as well as Western African dishes. On the blog alone I’ve prepared black beans with Polish sausage, a black bean salad, puréed them to create “refried” black beans, and used those in a black bean and feta dip. They’re just so versatile.

But today I’m going back to where I was first introduced to them, in the form of Cuban black bean soup.

Cuban Black Bean Soup
printable recipe below

1 pound black beans, such as black turtle beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound lean salt pork, cut into small cubes
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cups finely chopped green bell pepper
8 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 pounds smoked pork hocks
Salt and pepper
Cayenne chile pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 cup sherry

Put the beans in a large bowl and add cold water to cover to about 2″ above the top layer of beans. Soak overnight.

Heat the oil in a stock pot. Add the salt pork and cook, stirring often, until rendered of fat. Add the onions, garlic, and green pepper. Cook until wilted.

Drain the beans and add them to the pork and vegetable mixture. Add the beef broth.

Add the bay leaf and oregano, pork hocks, salt and pepper to taste, and the cayenne pepper flakes.

Bring to a boil and simmer about two hours or until beans are quite soft.

Remove the pork hocks. If desired, remove the meat from the hocks and chop finely to use as a garnish. (I returned the meat to the soup.)

Pour and scrape half of the beans into the container of a food processor. Blend until a purée forms, then scrape back into the stock pot. Puréed black beans are more of a grey color, but mixed with the whole cooked beans the soup is pretty.

Add the sherry. Heat thoroughly and serve.

I served the soup with achiote cornbread.

Serve, if desired, with optional garnishes such as chopped purple onion or green onions, lime slices, chopped ham, and sour cream.

The soup is also traditionally served over white rice, but I prefer mine without.

I hope you try this recipe. It’s a really good, hearty soup, but mostly I like it with all of my toppings of choice!

And cornbread.


37 thoughts on “Cuban Black Bean Soup

  • I love black beans too. Here in Germany they were an absolute rarity when I first discovered them through the internet about 6 or 7 years ago; my supermarket only had 1 brand, and suddenly they couldn’t deliver anymore. Luckily my supermarket chain realised this was an up-and-coming type of bean, took action immediately and started selling black beans under their own brand.
    I’ll have yet to try Cuban Black Bean soup though.

  • Absolutely delightful recipe. I love Cuban Black Beans and rice so I’ll love this dish. When we were in Amsterdam, Stefan Gourmet invited us to his flat for a wonderful meal. He cooked lentils du puys and it was lovely. Will repeat the dish and try yours too!

    • Oh I’m so jealous! I’ve met him and Kees before, in Texas, and they are both delightful. And his culinary skills…. incredible. He’s such an inspiration.

  • This is exactly the type of flavorful, hearty comfort in a bowl we want right now! How delicious, Mimi!

  • I grew up hating beans of any kind (other than green beans, which don’t really count), so you can imagine my surprise the first time I tried black bean soup and liked it. I’ll have to try this recipe!

  • I love black bean soup! I still remember having it for the first time back during my law school days. That was many moons ago. I was blown away. Black beans have such wonderfully intense flavor. And with a bit of diced onion and cilantro on top provides a nice contrast of taste and texture. Sublime!

  • A marvelously delicious treat. I will absolutely make this recipe. So comforting, especially during this strange time. Thank you, Mimi

  • You have no idea how perfectly timed this recipe is! I tried to sous vide black beans yesterday and they did not cook. So I will make your soup later. It is not soup weather here but I will freeze it for winter.

  • Black beans are wonderful! I discovered them in Mexican restaurants in Dallas, in the 1980s. Before that, they were one of those foods I had vaguely heard of, but had never seen. Anyway, Cuban black bean soup is terrific. Yours looks excellent — although I usually make mine with rice, I like the idea of cornbread. Good stuff — thanks.

    • I did mention putting rice in the bowl, then topping off with the soup. I like it like that. If you were in Dallas in the 80’s, did you ever go to Javier’s?

  • I do love black beans, too. In fact, I’d say that they are my favorite bean. I like how you pureed half of the beans in this soup. I’m always partial to soups that are a bit thicker – makes ’em feel more substantial. The flavors in this one sound fantastic, Mimi!

  • I love black bean soup and it’s been ages since I’ve made some. It’s so good and your recipe looks fantastic! Now I’m craving a bowl, thanks for sharing about it, Chef Mimi!

  • Thanks, Mimi, for this recipe! I used to have a Cuban Black Bean recipe, but lost it somewhere along the line! Can’t wait to try this!

  • First of all – I love black beans! The additional ingredients you’ve used makes me want to dive into this soup with two spoons. This a wonderful recipe. Thanks so much, Mimi, for sharing.

  • I love black beans, too. You soup sounds wonderful. I’m sure the ham hock makes it incredibly tasty, but I also love the idea of garnishing with ham pieces. And of course cornbread!

    • It’s a great recipe, if you get a chance to make it. And I like the texture, plus the goodies on top!

  • Wow this looks delicious! I have not had many Cuban recipes before, and I have been dying to try Cuban Black Bean Soup! Your recipe looks phenomenal! I totally agree with you, black beans are such an amazing bean! Definitely one of my favorite foods ❤️

    • They really are wonderful! And you can do so much with them. One of my favorite dips is pureed black beans layered with green onions and goat cheese!

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