Crockpot Cuban Black Bean Soup is a simple, healthy and delicious soup that can made using pantry items. Dress this soup up with fresh chopped red bell peppers, onions and scallions. Serve with hot sauce on the side for spicy food lovers.
Three of my boys love black beans so now that my oldest son is off to college, beans have been making a bigger appearance on our table – in chilies, soups, dips, and just regular old black beans. Although canned beans are convenient, they usually have quite a bit of salt, plus there are often chemicals in the lining of the cans. So, whenever I can, I use dried beans. They’re a lot less expensive, and honestly, don’t take that long to cook. Dried beans just need to be soaked first – there’s even a quick-soaking method on the back of the dried bean bags if you’re in a hurry.
Several months ago, I found a recipe for Cuban Black Beans in a New York Times article entitled Holding On to Heritage Before It Slips Away. I love making authentic recipes from various cultures. Although there are recipes on the back of dried bean bags and cans, the recipes often call for a seasoning packet that contains MSG. So, I was thrilled to find this authentic black bean recipe and try it. Interestingly enough, this recipe is not that different from the one on the back of the dried black bean bag, with the exception of the seasoning packet and the addition of sherry vinegar.
These are some of the best black beans I’ve ever made – the sherry vinegar is definitely worth seeking out as it adds great flavor. I’ve made this recipe several times already, and converted it to a Crockpot Cuban Black Bean Soup Recipe, simplifying the original recipe by a few steps. Instead of two different saute steps, I’ve combined them into one. And of course, sticking this in the crockpot makes for a no-fuss meal since it cooks all day long while you work or are running around. All you need is a nice green salad and some rice (tip: make this in a rice cooker and keep it on the warm setting until dinnertime) for a simple Meatless Meal (vegan too).
Black beans are a Power food according to the book Power Foods: 150 delicious recipes with 38 Healthiest Ingredients from the editors of Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine. Power Foods are foods that are outstanding in the amounts of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, essential fatty acids, fiber and more, that help fight disease and promote good health.
So, what makes dried beans a Power Food?
Beans are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber and are virtually fat-free. They’re high in folate, B vitamins and iron, and heart-healthy. In addition, beans contain phytoestrogens that may help reduce the risk of estrogen-related cancers as well as pancreatic, color and prostate cancer. Because of their high fiber content, beans help to lower or maintain blood sugar levels, making them diabetic-friendly.
So, you might be wondering…why dried beans? Nutritionally, dried and canned beans are comparable, but canned beans are often packaged in cans that contain BPA, which has been linked in some studies to a higher risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Some canned beans are packaged in BPA-free cans, but are relative more expensive. Dried beans are really easy to prepare and very inexpensive. You can either soak them overnight and cook them the next day, or quick-soak them in hot water and cook them immediately. Just a little planning is required. However, they can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until you need them.
When using dried beans, there’s also the question of whether or not to discard the soaking water. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may or may not want to use the soaking water.
Discarding the soaking liquid will:
- Get rid of flatulence-related substances (that means you’ll likely experience less gas)
- Loss of some nutrients (although not significant) – 15% of total phenols are lost as well as a slight loss of some additional phytonutrients and minerals.
You decide. I generally throw out the soaking liquid and start with fresh broth or water when cooking dried beans.
Crockpot Cuban Black Bean Soup
- 1 pound dried black beans rinsed thoroughly, soaked overnight
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 1 bell pepper finely chopped
- 5 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 cups water
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- chopped red bell pepper
- chopped onion
- chopped scallions
- hot sauce
Heat oil in a large pan. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic cloves to pan and saute until onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add bay leaf, cumin, oregano, and black pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.
Place in crockpot along with soaked beans and 8 cups of water. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Add sherry vinegar, wine and salt, and continue to cook on low for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaf fore serving. Serve as a soup or over steamed rice.
Serve with chopped red bell peppers, onion, scallions and hot sauce, as desired.
Adapted from New York Times. Based on reader's reviews, you might want to double or even triple the amount of cumin and oregano in the recipe if you like a more seasoned soup.
If you like this black bean soup recipe, you might also like:
Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot Cuban Black Bean Soup
World’s Healthiest Foods: Beans
Power Foods: 150 delicious recipes with 38 Healthiest Ingredients
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
Sherry vinegar is the magic bullet that really freshens the flavor at the end. Great recipe! I love making black beans in my slow cooker. In fact, I think I make beans more often than any other slow cooker dish.
I agree Lydia – sherry vinegar has incredible flavor, and the crockpot is my go-to for making beans, so much easier since you don’t have to watch over it.
That Sherry vinegar really makes a difference. I also added some hot chili flakes, and used chicken stock vice water. Pureed a couple of cups to make it more soupy. Delicious.
The Sherry vinegar is the key. I’ll be yours had lots of flavor with the chili flakes and chicken stock. I love the idea of pureeing some of the soup to make it creamier.
This sounds great but I’ve never soaked beans. If I discard the liquid, then what is the liquid in this soup. There is no mention or water or broth. Thanks.
Thanks for the catch Pat – I added about 8 cups of water to the soaked beans in the crockpot. If you choose to use the water from soaking the beans, soak the beans in 10 cups of water and use all of it. I estimated the amount of water since the dried beans will absorb some of the water.
Thanks. Can’t wait to make.
Brian @ A Thought For Food says
Such a wonderful idea… I really need to use my crockpot more. This looks perfect for the cold weather that came our way this week.
mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits says
You make great points about the reasons to cook your own beans. I always do start with dry beans on the assumption that fresh is better than canned, but I didn’t know about the BPA in cans. Regarding the soaking water, I always throw it out.
I love the touch of sherry vinegar, but I am kind of surprised not to see lime in a Cuban black bean soup. I bet that would be a good option too.
Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking says
Wonderful recipe, Jeanette! These beans look so delicious and easy, perfect alongside any spicy or salty Cuban dish. Thanks for sharing!
France @ Beyond The Peel says
This looks like a hearty stick to your ribs kind of soup. Fantastic for the type of weather we’re having these days!
Made this for dinner tonight. I followed the recipe exactly, except for doubling the spices as it seemed to be a bit bland. Left it in the crockpot all day and served it up for dinner. I took a big bite excited for some soup…..and it was uncooked beans in tepid water. I recommend you cook it on high, at least if you have a cuisinart slow cooker and quadruple the spices . Will not be making again. Still on the hunt for a black bean soup recipe that actually has some flavor.
Hi Eth, thanks for your feedback. I have an old crockpot, so temperature settings may vary depending on the brand. This is not a spicy soup (I add some hot sauce to mine). I don’t know if you used the sherry vinegar, but it really does make a big difference in the flavor of this soup.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I was really disappointed. I even added a touch of sour cream to thicken it. I felt like it needed a lot more seasoning.
Hi Reagan, thanks for your feedback. This is definitely on the milder side, not a spicy soup, so if you’re looking for more seasoning, you might want to add more cumin and oregano. I’ve also made another version that is more flavorful (although it might not be as authentically Cuban) that uses 1/2 tablespoon of ground cumin, turkey bacon, and sherry based on a local restaurant recipe: https://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/2011/02/cuban-black-bean-soup.html I also like hot sauce with mine. Based on your feedback and another reader’s, I’ve added a note to the recipe suggesting using extra spices for those who prefer a more seasoned soup. I appreciate you trying the recipe and providing your honest feedback.
Soaking beans with a piece of kombu seaweed helps get rid of gas causing stuff as well. Toss with the soaking water. Looks good!
Great tip DeAnn – thanks for sharing!
kARINA MORENA MCFADDEN says
I have black beans from THAILAND. How long should i keep they in slow cooker? I never had beans from thailand before ,i want to try them sense they have 27grams of protein. Can u or anyone can help me please.
Karina, I’m not familiar with black beans from Thailand, but I would suggest soaking them overnight to soften them up a bit. Beans are all different, so you will have to test it out, but check after 8 hours on low heat or you can try on higher heat for less time.
Hello! This recipe is very similar to the amazing frijoles negros that have been passed down my big Cuban family through many generations with the exception of the sherry vinegar and white wine. Authentically, we just use a dash of regular white or apple cider vinegar and we ALWAYS add a 1/2 tspn of granulated sugar to counter the acidity of the vinegar and then finish the whole thing off once the heat is off with a healthy drizzle of raw olive oil. Cubans take pride in their frijoles and with these little additions you will be eating the real thing!
(also- if you can get your hands on some aji cachucha pepper- they are a mildly spiced or even not spicy pepper then add a few sans seeds- the taste is phenomenal, you can also add a few leaves of cilantro -not to be confused with cilantro- cilantro has long serrated leaves. Before cilantro and aji cachucha were only found if you knew someone who grew it in their garden or got a hold of some seeds, but in recent years have become more recognized commercially and can be found often in stores). Buen provecho!
***CULANTRO…. sorry my autocorrect changed the word but it is culantro not cilantro.
Vanessa, thanks so much for sharing your family recipe – I love authentic food so hearing first hand how it is made is truly honoring to your culture.
This looks wonderful. I love cooking cuban black beans and am all for trying a crock pot recipe. Bookmarked.
I’ve cooked some gammon in coca cola in the crock pot and then used the salty sweet cola water as base for the black bean soup. Not great for vegetarians, but tastes delish.
Thank you for this wonderful and easy recipe, Jeanette. I made this today exactly as written and it is delicious. I know it is going to taste even better tomorrow!
Judy – so glad you tried this and enjoyed it. This soup also freezes well.
Solid recipe Jeanette! I cook beans this way all the time, as we eat a lot of beans as sides, and as add-in’s more so than as a “soup” Garbanzos are nice in salads at the end of the day, as they are hearty, but not like eating heavier things at days end. Also lentils, same thing. And yes, the sherry vinegar makes it! Sometimes I make a mirpox using a tbs of tomato paste, 1 T butter, and 1/2 wine (red or white works equally), and add that when the beans or lentils are almost done. These black beans of yours worked the same for us, and we used them all week in different things, or as side. Great like you said with a bit of hot sauce, and good along side scrambled eggs, or under a soft poached egg with avocado slices, for a weekend brunch. Thank you for all the fine recipes!
Thanks Suzi – love your mirepoix that you stir into beans and lentils, and all the different ways you serve these black beans – I love soft poached egg with avocado and tomato 🙂
Bryson Fico says
Hearty, healthy , and delicious. I love the flavor a bay leaves add to soups. I served it with chopped red bell peppers, onion, scallions as suggested added chopped avocado too.