Black Bean Soup: Latin Twist


As I write this up, the snow is gracefully falling to the ground (where, thankfully, it’s not sticking…at least not yet!). Black bean soup is perfect on days like today because it offers depth of warmth and flavor. And though it does take a bit of time, one bite will convince you it was totally worth it!

Black Bean Soup

Where did I get the original version of this soup? Actually, my friends, it’s from a cookbook entitled Clarita’s Cocina (attached is a link to the newly-revised version of the one I have…which is from the 70s!!!). My version of black bean soup, which I’ve been creating and recreating over many years (decades! Yikes!) has evolved tremendously from the original one. But, just like visiting with an old friend, I find great comfort looking up Frijoles Negros in my copy of the book! Perfect for vegetarian friends (and for vegans,  simply leave out the cheese!), this treat is one that you can make ahead, freeze, and pull out as needed on chilly, wintry days. It’s nice served atop white rice, with a dollop of sour cream. Here I’ve garnished it with fried tortilla strips and queso fresco (crumbly white cheese).  ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!

Latin Twist: Black Bean Soup

Yield: About six servings

Though this black bean soup takes time to make, you will be so happy with these slow-cooked flavors!


  • Ingredients:
  • For the first stage of cooking:
  • 1 pound black beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium ripe tomato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1/2 green pepper
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • For the second stage
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange or yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry


  1. Instructions:
  2. Wash the beans and discard imperfect ones.
  3. Place in a deep bowl and cover with water 2 inches from above beans.
  4. Soak overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  5. After that, pour beans into a 3-to-4-quart soup kettle with the same soaking water.
  6. If necessary, add more water so that beans will covered 1 inch above.
  7. Add to the beans 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the tomato, bay leaf, 1/2 onion, green pepper, and crushed garlic clove.
  8. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to moderate; cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
  9. Use only a wooden spoon in stirring.
  10. Remove bay leaf and what is left of the tomato, onion, pepper and garlic.
  11. In a skillet, heat the oil and sauté the chopped onion and peppers until the onion is transparent.
  12. Add the garlic, cumin, wine vinegar and salt.
  13. Stir to mix well and cook 2 minutes longer, then add to the beans.
  14. Stir in hot sauce, over and cook for about half an hour.
  15. Add the sherry.
  16. Correct seasoning and serve!



About Author

Maybe it was the dinner parties my mom always threw—or the hours I spent prepping and cooking alongside her (and then on my own!). Or maybe it was array of fabulous dishes that my family sampled in New York City’s richly diverse restaurants, but I’ve loved creating, savoring, and sharing food for as long as I can remember. Living in Spain, and later in Peru, also greatly influenced my life. These years abroad taught me Spanish—and about living in different countries--but also introduced me to teaching English as a second language, which I’ve done—mostly in the US-- for the past 20-plus (yikes!) years. I’ve authored two cocktail/tapas books, Mambo Mixers and Calypso Coolers, coauthored more than 15 others (mostly food related!), and raised two children. Now I'm chef and owner of my own restaurant, Mambo 64 in Tuckahoe, New York. My message is the same, whether I'm teaching, writing, running the restaurant or being a regular guest on the Spanish-language network Telemundo (on the morning show, Buenos Días Nueva York!). My belief in food—and the power of food—is far reaching, and is married with another one: the power of stories. I’m sure that if we could all sit down and have meals together, sharing both tastes and tales, we’d have peace on earth. Enjoy!

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