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Cuban Black Bean Soup

October 6, 2010

“Surely one of the greatest satisfactions of life is to cook a really delicious meal, a meal that nourishes the body and cheers the spirit, and may be remembered with pleasure for a long time to come.”

          ——-Rose Elliot, “The Festive Vegetarian”

Cuba, so close yet so far.  There are so many recipes from the Caribbean and this one is all about Cuba.  Make no mistake, all the black bean soups from different countries will vary greatly but this one is the black bean soup I make most frequently.  One of the great experiences I have enjoyed in the kitchen and life is cooking with someone who is willing to share one of their great recipes and help you cook it along with you for your first time making their specialty.  That is how I learned to make this soup with Jose Luis.  He arrived in New York in the 60’s and had a great life there as a decorator, and he was superb at that as well as his wonderful cooking.  Whenever we went to Jose’s home for any meal there would be some sort of dish with black beans and if it was the this soup we would be certainly eating at midnight.  But every ingredient had a story and every ingredient had to be attended to with great detail and care.  I feel fortunate to have spent some days and nights with Jose cooking together.

Cuban Black Bean Soup


  • 1 lb. Black Beans (2 1/3 C.)
  • 8 C. Water
  • 1/4 lb. Ham or Salted Pork (omit for vegetarian)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Small Onions (chopped)
  • 4 Garlic Cloves (minced)
  • 1/2 C. Celery (finely chopped)
  • 4-5 T.Olive Oil
  • 1   Oregano
  • 2 T. Cumin
  • 2 T. Lime Juice
  • 2 T. Paprika
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Sour Cream (for garnish
  • Garlic Chives (for garnish) 
  • Preparation

  • Rinse and sort beans
  • Soak the beans overnight at least 6 hours)*
  • Discard the water the beans have soaked in and rinse beans
  • Bring pot of water to a boil and add the ham and bay leaves and bring back to a boil, then add the soaked beans
  • Add 2-3 T. olive oil and let simmer for a couple of hours on low heat
  • Saute the onions, garlic and celery in 2 T. olive oil until translucent
  • Blend the onion mixture with an immersion blender or blender and add to the soup mixture
  • Add the cumin, lime juice and paprika to the soup mixture (taste for correct seasoning) (cumin is key ingredient)
  • Cook on very low heat for another hour (stir frequently to prevent beans from sticking)
  • After the total cooking time of 3 hours the soup will be ready to serve 
  • Serve in individual bowls with garnishes (sour cream, onions or chives)
  • Have an additional bowl of limes to pass at the table (optional)
  • (Serves 6-8)

    Limes, (The star of any Cuban Black Bean Soup)

    * Quick Soak Method:  Add beans to water, boil for 2 minutes; remove from heat, cover and soak for 1 hour. Drain off water and rinse beans.

    Adapted from my friend Jose Luis and for more recipes from the Caribbean please see Caribbean Dinner Menu.

    A contribution to Chef Robin White’s #Soupweek (October 2-9, 2010).  If you would like to participate or just enjoy all the soup recipes visit her site at and find all the details.

    5 Comments leave one →
    1. Bobbie permalink
      March 25, 2017 12:23

      Can you give more information about the ham? In the directions it says to have it in the pot with the beans, but in the photos is sort of looks like it’s in the saute pan. Do you do both? Does the soup end up with pieces of ham? Or is it more like a ham bone that you discard with the bay leaves?

    2. March 18, 2011 12:30

      Thanks alot mate Deja Vu, this is a really nice Cuban Black Bean Soup recipe 🙂 I’m bookmarking this page!!

    3. Regina Petzold permalink
      October 14, 2010 17:03

      The same day you posted this, I had tried a black bean soup in the crockpot. The beans were tough. I did the quick soak method. When I saw your post I decided I needed to try this one.
      I got more black beans and cooked them today on the stovetop. The soup is delicious.
      Thanks for sharing this.

      • October 15, 2010 16:23

        Hi, thanks for stopping by. It only takes planning in advance, but it does make such a difference in all the flavors and the lime really puts a spark in the soup. I try to keep the beans around during the winter since it is the only season I make hot soups and I will be eating black beans in the summer from the can! Just have to have them with so many foods here in Florida. I am glad you enjoyed them. I was invited by to guest post and she recently posted my Oyster Stew recipe. We plan on doing some other soup ideas together. Should be fun.


    1. Celebrate National Soup Month in January « "Deja Vu" Cook

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