Traditional Cuban black bean soup is made with a ham hock, which is simmered along with the beans and removed before serving.
I prefer this vegetarian version, adding smoked paprika to give the soup an element of the ham’s smokiness. Anyway, for me it’s the vinegar that gives Cuban black bean soup its distinctive flavour.
This soup tastes even better the following day, and freezes well too.
Cuban black bean soup
- 500g dried black beans
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 red peppers, minced
- 2 green peppers, minced
- 1 large red onion, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tb olive oil
- 1 Tb smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar (or to taste)
- salt and pepper
- sour cream (optional)
- Place the black beans in a large bowl. Cover with a few inches of water and leave to soak overnight.
- Drain the beans, rinse and transfer to a large soup pot. Add 3 litres of water, and bring to the boil.
- Skim any foam from the surface, lower the heat and add the bay leaves. Partially cover the pot and simmer for two hours, or until the beans are tender, adding more water if needed.
- Half an hour before the beans are ready, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low flame.
- Toss the red pepper, green pepper and onion together in a mixing bowl. Reserve half a cup of the mixture for garnish, then add the rest to the frying pan along with the garlic.
- Sauté until softened, then stir in the smoked paprika, oregano and cumin.
- Add half a cup of water and simmer five minutes more. Transfer to a blender and blitz until smooth.
- Add the puréed vegetables to the beans and simmer for another twenty minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves, stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve garnished with the reserved pepper-onion mixture, and sour cream if desired.