Black Bean Soup - Recipes, Suggestions, Hints?

There is an abundance of recipes for black bean soup - seems that most every cook has their own take on crafting it.

I am curious to learn how you make it:

  • Canned or dried beans (brands?)?
  • If dried, do you pre-soak (and do you salt the water?)?
  • Stovetop, slow cooker, InstaPot?
  • What aromatics and spices do you add, and when? Water or broth?
  • Do you serve with toppings? Over rice or with cornbread?

I’m still trying to find the recipe that works best for us - goal is a soup that’s thicker as opposed to brothy, that uses dried beans, and is filling and comforting. I’m getting closer but not there yet.


Dried beans are quick & easy if you have a pressure cooker or an Insta-Pot. You can just do the beans, you don’t have to do the whole recipe.

Meat or vegetarian?

I’ll put this here and then duck…

Have you thought of starting with a Roux?

Noooooooo. Not roux! You mash up some of the cooked beans to thicken the mix.

You can use canned in a pinch:

Or the slowcook version:

This is by far the best online Cuban recipe site I’ve found. Offline, it’s the Columbia Restaurant cookbook or Claritas Cocina.


Have a recipe that I always make - it’s the best black bean soup we’ve ever tasted. I’ll locate the recipe then post. Don’t think the recipe is online. Til later.


Since I’ve only eaten them and never made them, are they never made with meat or is there the traditional Cuban method and everything else?

I would definitely like to see it, too!

Its fairly common in Tampa (and mi casa) to throw in some diced chorizo…the Cuban kind in the casings

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I made this one a while ago now, not long after he posted this (accidentally vegan) recipe, maybe when i went to ca last spring? The olives here were a great idea, it’s probably better with the chili pepper but i skipped it.


You were right in skipping the chile. In a near lifetime of living in a city with heavy Cuban influence (and a love affair with Cuban food) I’ve never had a bowl that was spicy (or that had olives in it.)

If you want some heat with your black beans, they’re always served with diced fresh white onion and a bottle of Crystal* hot sauce to add to your personal taste.

*pronounced CrisTAL…no other brand is allowed! LOL


Ancho and Pasilla chilis, tops pulled off, seeds discarded, torn into chili leather & removed before serving.

Here’s my very easy version:

Saute a large chopped onion, 3 minced cloves of garlic, and 2 chipotles in adobo for 5 min.
Add 2 tsp cumin and 1/3 cup water. Simmer for 5 min.
Add 2 undrained cans black beans and a small can of diced tomatoes and heat/simmer for 10 minutes. Add 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, 1 cup canned pumpkin, and 1/2 cup sherry; stir and heat.

(You can freeze the rest of the pumpkin for the next batch. The chipotles in adobo seem to keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.)


For thickening or flavor?

As promised here is the black bean soup recipe:

1 lb dry black beans, sorted and rinsed
1smoked ham hock
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot coarsely chopped
1 large celery stalk coarsely chopped
3 qts chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
1.5 T cumin, ground
1 T Madras curry powder
1 tsp dried thyme, ground or crushed in your palms
4-5 bay leaves whole or 1/2 tsp ground
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper, freshly ground
1/2 cup brewed strong coffee
2 T dark rum
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste


Freshly cooked rice, white or brown
3 green onions, minced
1 red bell pepper, roasted and diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 lime, sliced into thin wedges & deseeded


In a 6 qt pan combine beans, ham hock, onions, carrots and celery. Cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 1 hour. Remove from heat and cool enough to refrigerate. Skim the fat, remove the hock & coarsely chop the ham meat. Add the stock, tomato paste and all spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer for about 2 hours. Remove from heat and add coffee and rum. Serve with rice and accompaniments. Enjoy!

My notes tell me this is a Bon Appetit recipe from June 1985

This soup is very flexible, I don’t always have rum when I make it. (“Tell me, why is the rum always gone?” Captain Sparrow)

My favorite way to make it is when we cook and glaze a fresh bone-in ham that I usually buy around Easter when they go on fabulous sale. I use the ham drippings instead of stock. We use a Dr Pepper glaze on the ham which is amazing, and put a little smoke on it & grill over charcoal.

Please let me know how it turns out for you if anyone tries it. Don’t be daunted with the long ingredient list, it goes together fast.

ETA: I actually use any drippings for this, defatted. Liquid from pork butts for carnitas, ribs on the grill & etc. It would easily adapt to vegetarian as well.


Pumpkin provides thickening (and of a more traditional sort, IMHO, than cornstarch or flour), nutrition (lots of Vitamin A, some potassium), and a touch of sweetness balances the hotness (again IMHO).

This came about because Mark likes thick soups (and thick spaghetti sauces, and thick sauces in general). The pumpkin won’t get lumpy, which makes it foolproof (ideal for me!).


A party for your taste-buds:

It’s brilliant.


Thanks for writing this up! The curry powder and coffee are unusual additions…


You’re welcome! The soup is truly sublime with the spices & additions of coffee and rum.


Pumpkin’s a surprise!