Cuban Black Bean Soup

This Cuban black bean soup is made from scratch from dried black beans, peppers, onion, garlic, cumin, and vinegar. lt’s cheap, simple, and vegetarian.

A bowl of Cuban black bean soup with a wooden ladle next to a yellow plate filled with white rice.

I was studying medieval history at the University of Valladolid, and my family in Miami had sent me a few pounds of dried black beans, which are not easy to find. I decided to surprise some good friends from Havana and make black bean soup, one of the great dishes of their hometown. To my bewildered embarrassment, they proceeded to set me straight: “Never, never, never do you use tomatoes in a Havana black bean soup.” And never, never, never did I forget the lesson. The soup sometimes gets some of its deep flavor from ham hocks or bacon, but many Cubans prefer to make simpler, but equally flavorful, vegetarian versions.–Maricel E. Presilla

Cuban Black Bean Soup

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 40 M
  • 3 H, 15 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Gran Cocina Latina cookbook

Want it? Click it.


  • For the beans
  • For the sofrito
  • To finish the soup


Cook the beans

Place the beans, water, onion, green pepper, and bay leaf in a 6-quart heavy pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding more water if necessary as the beans cook. The soup should be brothy yet creamy. (Cooking beans is not an exact science so check the water often.)

Discard the onion, pepper, and bay leaf and lower the heat to medium-low. Ladle about 1/3 cup beans into a bowl and mash them with the back of the ladle or a spoon into a coarse purée and set aside. Keep the soup at a simmer while you make the sofrito.

Make the sofrito

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until light golden, about 20 seconds. Add the onion, green pepper, Caribbean peppers, and bay leaf and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add the cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the reserved mashed black beans and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Finish the soup

Stir the bean-enriched sofrito into the pot of beans, then stir in the vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary; the soup should be aromatic with sweet, tangy notes. Add the chopped roasted pepper, if using. Keep the pot over medium-low heat, cover partially, and simmer until creamy, 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and ladle the soup into bowls. If desired, plonk the bottle of olive oil on the table and invite everyone to drizzle some over the soup. (The soup tastes even better the day after it’s made. Let it cool and then cover and refrigerate. Reheat at a very gentle simmer. The soup can also be frozen for up to 3 months so you may want to double the recipe.) Originally published March 13, 2013.

Print RecipeBuy the Gran Cocina Latina cookbook

Want it? Click it.

    How To Serve Cuban Black Bean Soup Like They Do In Cuba

    • Cubans tend to serve this soup alongside or on top of white rice. A dollop of homemade Mexican or Central American crema or some chopped white onion and parsley or cilantro wouldn’t be a terrible addition.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    I love bean soups of all types, but this Cuban black bean soup is in a whole different category. Earthy and full of subtle flavors, the vegetables in the bean broth play perfectly against the vividness of the sofrito. Every ingredient has a role; nothing upstages anything else.

    I used an Anaheim pepper instead of the Caribbean sweet peppers, which added the tiniest bite. I served it with chunks of avocado on top. I bought twice the amount of dried beans necessary, so I can make another batch soon. I’m also going to try freezing it. This’d be a great dish to have on hand.

    I loved this Cuban black bean soup! I struggled with not putting any meat in the soup for flavoring; however, in the end I followed the recipe exactly and I found that the flavors were really very good. This is an excellent recipe and one that I’ll definitely make again.

    After tasting the soup, I found that I needed to use the full 2 teaspoons of salt. I also opted to add a little more red wine vinegar, about a teaspoon, to get that “tangy” quality (I really like vinegar in my beans). I found that as the dish cooked uncovered, a lot of my water had cooked off by the time the beans became “creamy,” as the recipe states. It was still very good, but wasn’t soupy and couldn’t be ladled as the recipe states.

    Perhaps at some point the recipe should direct us to cover the beans? Or to add a little water/vegetable broth if the beans begin to thicken? The beans were even better the next day. I added some additional water to loosen them up and they were perfect.


    #leitesculinaria on Instagram If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


    1. I was looking at a number of recipes and videos for Cuban BB soup and your version sounded like the best. I did use the end of a ham with the beans, and later added some low fat sausage, though I’m sure it’s great without those additions. I subbed all red bell peppers as I’m not a fan of the green, and used some store bought marinated “hot chili peppers” (which turns out are Cascabel peppers) as I didn’t want to hunt down fresh Caribbean peppers. Gave it a pretty good kick. I’m sure pepperoncini peppers would work fine as well. Anyway the soup turned out to be exceptionally good. From looking at the recipe I thought it would turn out pretty good, but this is exceptionally good! Thank you for posting this great recipe, though it now makes going back to the standard (and easier) navy bean soup pretty hard to do!!

      1. D., you’re very welcome, although you deserve some of the credit, too, for doctoring the recipe as you did! Love when someone takes a recipe and make it his or her own. Really appreciate you taking the time to let us know how well it worked for you. Looking forward to hearing what recipe you try next from the site…

    Have something to say?

    Then tell us. Have a picture you'd like to add to your comment? Attach it below. And as always, please take a gander at our comment policy before posting.

    Rate this recipe!

    Have you tried this recipe? Let us know what you think.

    Upload a picture of your dish