As an undergraduate, I briefly dabbled in the hospitality program at my university in the hopes of attaining a culinary education without losing out on the college experience. My tenure as a major in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management was quite short lived but I stuck around long enough to take a basic cooking course which I loved. We didn't really learn specific techniques so much as prepared recipes for three hours a day once a week, then enjoyed our creations together. It got to the point where the professor offered us a lot of freedom and we kept returning to rainy day comfort foods like grilled cheese and tomato soup.
One of my favorite recipes from the entire course was a Cuban Black Bean Soup. Prior to the course, I never considered myself a fan of black beans, nor much of a soup connoisseur. But one taste of this delicious and flavorful soup and I was hooked. Though it can be a bit labor intensive (mostly when it comes to the clean up since a food processor or immersion blender is required), the results are definitely worth whatever effort it takes.
Black beans make the base of the soup, as the name implies, but the real dynamic flavors come from diced red pepper, ground cumin, and fresh oregano. Warm and smooth, this soup is hearty enough to eat on its own or with a little bit of cheese, toast, or a sandwich. Even if you don't consider yourself a huge black bean aficionado, I highly recommend giving this soup a try. It's a surprisingly appealing dish that, though not necessarily appetizing to look at (which is why there aren't any pictures to accompany this post), is great to make in batches for freezing and enjoying all fall long.
Cuban Black Bean Soup Recipe
- 6 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup oil
- 2 red bell peppers, de-seeded, ribs removed, diced
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place beans, broth, and bay leaves into a pot. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat while preparing the remaining ingredients.
- In a saute or fry pan, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Place the peppers, shallots and onions into the pan and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, cumin, and oregano, and cook for several more minutes.
- Add the sauteed mixture into the pot of beans. Add the sugar and salt.
- Remove the bay leaves and puree with an immersion blender or food processor until smooth.
- Adjust salt, sugar, and pepper if needed. If soup is too thick, thin with more broth or with water. Enjoy!