Sopa de Frijoles Negros

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(Caribbean black bean soup)

Black bean soup is popular throughout the Caribbean, but it is especially well loved in Cuba. Sometimes spelled sopa de frijol negro. In Brazil it is known as sopa de feijão preto and is often pureed until smooth.

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

  • Dried black beans -- 1 pound
  • Water -- to cover
  • Olive oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Onions, finely chopped -- 2
  • Green or red bell pepper, finely chopped --1
  • Garlic, minced -- 3 to 5 cloves
  • Stock or water -- about 6 cups
  • Dried oregano -- 2 teaspoons
  • Bay leaf -- 1 to 2
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste

Method

  1. Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover by a few inches. Drain and rinse.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium flame. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Add the 6 cups of stock or water, the drained beans, oregano and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to and simmer for 1-2 hours, or until the beans are cooked through and softened.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Using a potato masher or the back of a spoon, mash some of the beans to thicken the liquid a bit. Adjust seasoning and serve.

Variations

  • Use canned beans if you like. Skip the soaking step, drain and proceed from Step 2.
  • Add chopped ham along with the garlic for extra flavor.
  • Sometimes a tablespoon or two of vinegar is stirred in at the last moment to round out the flavors. Other possible additions are chopped tomatoes, ground cumin or coriander, or even dark rum.
  • Sprinkle each serving with a grating of well aged cheese.
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