Cathy’s Kitchen Prescription LLC
Cuban Black Bean Soup
I love the marriage of flavors in this satisfying soup, which is almost dense enough to qualify as a bean stew ~ cumin, clove, mild chiles, lime. Simple to make, and once your beans are cooked, it cooks up quickly. Enjoy with a dollop of puréed cilantro and thick soy yogurt for a heavenly, memorable meal.
Whole and plant-based, gluten-free, with no oil, sugar, or salt.
Prep time 30 minutes + 2 hours if using dry black beans Cooking time 50-60 minutes
Makes 8-10 cups as a starter or 4-5 bowls
1 pound dry black beans or 4 cans of no-sodium 15-ounce cans
2 bay leaves
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 large white or yellow onion, medium dice
Splash of black bean cooking water or water or no-sodium veggie broth
2 cups celery with leaves, small dice
4 cubanelle OR 5 aji cachucha, a.k.a. aji dulce chile peppers •, medium dice
½ cup carrot, small dice
2 large cloves garlic, minced
9 whole cloves, or to taste
1 ½ teaspoons lightly toasted cumin seed, ground, or to taste
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano, or to taste
3 Tablespoons low-sodium, no-oil, no-preservatives powdered vegetable broth or dehydrated vegetable blend (optional) ••
4 Tablespoons lime juice •••, or to taste
3 Tablespoons shiro (white) miso ••••, or to taste
1 bunch fresh cilantro, blended into a soft paste with a few leaves reserved.
Dollop of soy yogurt
• Find fresh cubanelles and aji cachuchas at your Latin groceries and speciality markets. Generally, these chiles are fruity, flavorful, and mild but they can vary. Taste them to determine their heat and decide how many to use, according to your personal tastes. If you can’t find cubanelles or aji cachuchas, you can substitute 4-5 poblanos or a large green bell pepper.
•• Frontier Co-op is one of many possible brands, available online.
••• If limes are unavailable, use lemon.
•••• Miso is a good salt alternative that helps to lower blood pressure. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5313421/#:~:text=Miso%2C%20which%20is%20made%20from,%2C%20including%20salt%2Dsensitive%20hypertension).
Cook the Black Beans
To reconstitute dry beans, either rinse, sort to remove any small stones, soak overnight or cover by 2” of water in a pot, and boil for 2 minutes before turning off the flame and steeping for 1 hour or until all beans rehydrate and sink. Drain. Return to the pot, cover again with fresh water, the bay leaves, and garlic. Simmer gently until quite soft but intact which can take from 30 minutes or an hour, depending on the freshness of your beans. Set aside for now.
Make the Sofrito
Heat a skillet for 2 minutes over a medium-low flame. Add the onion, celery, carrot, peppers, the oregano, cumin, and cloves, lower flame, cover, and sauté gently until the vegetables soften, sweat their liquid, and the mix becomes fragrant. If it dries out and begins to adhere to your pan, deglaze with a splash of the black bean cooking water, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add garlic, lemon juice, and miso, and cook a few minutes longer for all the flavors to meld. The sofrito should be moist, very soft and fragrant.
Create the Soup
Remove the bay leaves from your soup pot. Use an immersion blender to partially blend the beans. You want to create a thick, creamy texture while leaving about half the beans intact. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can use a potato masher or transfer some of the beans and liquid to a blender or food processor.
Add the sofrito to the beans now and bring to a low simmer. Taste and correct seasonings as you like, keeping in mind that none of the individual flavors should dominate but all should work together to enhance the whole. You should be able to perceive the lime, the cumin, clove, chiles, miso – all in balance with one another. Continue to cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally as the beans can adhere to your pot if the heat is too high, allowing all the flavors to meld.
Blend the Cilantro Purée
Toss a bunch of cilantro, leaves and stems, in a blender, adding just enough water to blend into a thick soft paste. When you serve the soup, you can garnish with a dollop of this purée and one of soy yogurt or blend the two together.
Serve hot with the cilantro and soy yogurt garnishes and a small sprig of cilantro.
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