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 sausages, in salads, puréed them to create “retried” 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.

 

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