Cuban Black Bean Soup

Black Beans

Black Beans

by Cat, March 2014 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

See also: 1. Basic Black Beans; 2. Legumes (About) (on my main website); 3Beans & Other Legumes: Soaking & Sprouting4. Black Bean and Corn Salad5. Black Bean & Goat Cheese Quesadillas, with Guacamole; 

Other sites: 1. Emily Skinner Bean Recipes (3); 2. The Vegan Gourmet on dried beans & peas (great reference! (4))

I first had this soup at a small cafe near the office building where I worked in Portland OR. Up until then, I’d not been much of a fan of dried beans (except as a kid I liked Van Camp’s Pork & Beans, but that’s another story). But upon first taste, my eyes lit up and my heart glowed.

Cuban Black Bean Soup

This recipe is adapted from ‘Cuban Black Bean Soup’ in Soup, by Coralie Castle (1). The original serves 8 – 10, but I’ve modified the recipe to serve 4 – 5, and revised it to include some ideas from ‘Black Bean Soup’ in The New Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas (2).

The original recipe calls for Maggi’s seasoning (an Asian seasoning sauce), but I couldn’t find that in Portland, nor where I now live in Montana, so I winged it, not really knowing what it should taste like. I used tamari sauce and added a bit of chili seasoning. But as I’m writing this on my new website, I decided to check for substitutes on Cook’s Thesaurus (6): “equal parts dark soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce (From a usenet posting by Colonel I.F.K. Philpott…) OR Thai sweet soy sauce OR mushroom soy sauce.”

Serves 4 – 6.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • 1 recipe Basic Black Beans, using 8 oz dried black beans (about 1 cup), soaked overnight or sprouted before cooking; and 4 cups water (double amount)
  • 1 Tbsp Unrefined sea salt
  • ½ yellow or red onion (to make ½ cup, minced)
  • ½ – 1 green bell pepper (to make ½ cup, minced)
  • ⅓ cup minced celery
  • ⅓ cup minced carrot
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin or 1 Tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • ½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp Maggi’s seasoning (sauce), OR ¼ tsp tamari sauce/Braggs liquid aminos and ¼ tsp Worcestershire
  • Optional: chili seasoning or cayenne, to taste.
  • Bowl (for soaking) or mason jar (for sprouting)
  • Soup pot or large saucepan
  • small saucepan


  1. Prepare Basic Black Beans (soak or sprout, then cook in soup pot using double the amount of water until soft, adding salt about 30 minutes before they are ready).
  2. Meanwhile mince the onion, bell pepper, celery and carrots and set aside in a bowl. Mince garlic and set aside in a separate bowl.
  3. Sauté the veggie mix in oil until they are tender and beginning to brown. Add garlic, vinegar and Maggi’s seasoning (or substitute), and  chili powder or cayenne, if desired. Also add ground cumin (Or, if using whole cumin seeds – my preference, toss them lightly in a hot, dry skillet until fragrant; remove from skillet to let them cool a bit, then grind in a mortar and pestle, and add to the mix). Cook, stirring occasionally for minutes.
  4. When the beans are done, drain a little water from the beans and add to veggies in the saucepan; cook slowly, covered, for 30 minutes, adding more water as needed. Add to beans and reheat.
  5. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and cayenne if desired.

Serving suggestions:

As a main meal:

  1. Serve with steamed white or brown rice and garnish with minced scallions, or with the minced scallions soaked in olive oil and cider vinegar.

As a side dish, or to garnish the soup part of the main meal:

  1. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro. If you don’t make your own sour cream, I recommend Daisy Brand (5) which has no added ingredients – just cultured cream, or an Organic brand that is just cultured cream.
  2. Garnish with wedges of fresh limes and sprigs of cilantro.


  1. Soup, by Coralie Castle, Published in 1971 by 101 Productions, San Francisco CA
  2. The New Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas
  3. Emily Skinner Bean Recipes:; 
  4. The Vegan Gourmet on dried beans & peas (great reference!) (
  5. Daisy brand sour cream:
  6. Cook’s Thesaurus on Asian Condiments:

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