Chef's Note: You will find a recipe for black bean soup in every Cuban cookbook. It’s mandatory. I’m not kidding; I actually think there is some kind of publishing law that requires it. But don’t be fooled—not all black beans are created equal. While I’d love to tell you that mine are the absolute best—well, they are—I suppose there may be some other marginally good recipes out there. What is certain is that black beans are considered the food of the gods by most Cubans. One taste of this recipe, and you’ll see why.
Soaking your beans the night before you cook them makes the cooking process much quicker and produces beans that are uniformly tender.
- 1 pound dry black beans, picked through and rinsed
- 1/4 cup of California Olive Ranch extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup vino seco (dry white cooking wine)
- Salt and pepper
- 6 to 8 cups Arroz Blanco (White Rice), for serving
Step 1: Place the beans in a large bowl and add enough room temperature water to cover. Soak the beans for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. (If you are soaking them for 6 hours, use slightly warm or tepid water instead.)
Step 2: Place a medium to large sieve over a large bowl and drain the beans into the sieve, catching the soaking water in the bowl underneath. Measure the soaking liquid and add more water, if necessary, to equal 6 cups.
Step 3: Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables soften. Add the tomato paste, bay leaf, cumin, and oregano and stir well. Add the beans and soaking liquid mixture and bring to a boil.
Step 4: Let the soup boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low. Add the vinegar, sugar, and vino seco, and stir well. Cover the pot and let the soup simmer for 3 to 31/2 hours, until the beans are soft and tender and the stock has thickened. (The stock will thicken as the beans cool to room temperature.) Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the soup generously with salt and a sprinkling of pepper. Serve over long-grain white rice.
Recipe courtesy of Sabor (Running Press, 2012), by Ana Quincoces
Reprinted with permission from the publisher