Cuban Black Bean Soup with Rice . $3.40

Cuban Black Bean soup is simply one of the most wonderful meals – the soft, flavorful beans, the smoky ham, the rich broth, the indescribable warmth of the cumin. Even after the left overs are put away, it’s one soup at our house that generates a lot of activity in the kitchen – no sooner am I in bed then I hear the refrigerator door open, then the pip, pip, pip of the microwave as my son heats up a bowl.

Cuban Black Bean Soup - always Frugal but always so good!
Cuban Black Bean Soup – always Frugal but always so good!

Not a problem, though, because I generally double this soup, and sometimes triple it, just to have enough to freeze. It’s also extremely cost effective, as one might guess with the main protein of black beans and just a bit of ham for flavoring. Healthy, too, if one doesn’t mind a little ham – beans are full of fiber and trace minerals.

Traditionally served over rice placed in the bottom of a bowl with the soup spooned around it, it makes a beautiful presentation. A finish of a bit of vinegar and olive oil, a sprinkle of red onions shouldn’t be discounted because they do magical things to the flavor.

The cooking time on home-made soups and broths can seem long and tedious. I break things up, and make the broth first, with the left over ham bone, then freeze, and I’m always ready for a soup like this. See the recipe for Ham Broth, below, and check out helpful tips and recipes for other uses of the Holiday Ham under 12 Days of Ham.

Cuban Black Bean Soup

  • Servings: 6, 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 10 cups ham broth or ham broth plus water to equal 10 cups (see Ham Broth, below) plus some of the ham from making the broth, about 1 1/4 cups
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and medium dice
  • 2 green peppers, medium dice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups cooked rice

Spread out beans on a pan and sort, discarding any stones or foreign objects. Rinse, then cover with 2 inches of water, bring to a boil and soak for one hour up to five. (The longer you soak, the shorter the cooking time, but a full overnight soak tends to split the beans – if overnight’s easier, go for it.)

In the Dutch oven, add vegetables, drained beans, 10 cups of broth/water, oregano, pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil, turn down and simmer gently, with lid askew, until beans are tender, but not falling apart, about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the age of the beans and how long they’ve soaked. Add more water if necessary.

When the beans are fully cooked, add salt, vinegar and olive oil. Serve over rice (1/2 cup per person) and garnish as desired.

Notes: If the beans are old, they may take much, much longer to cook, in which case start them out before adding any vegetables, cook until they are mostly tender, then proceed with the rest. Extra water may need to be added.

from the kitchen of http://www.frugalhausfrau.com

Ham Broth

From Ham Bone: Remove most of the meat from the Ham (the shank end always has the best bone for soups.) Place the bone in a large pot with a two or three carrots, two or three stalks of celery and two onions, one quartered and one studded with about four cloves, and a few black peppercorns. (Note: I save scraps of these items in a Ziploc bag instead of using a whole vegetable.)

Cover with cold water by about an inch, bring to a boil, turn down and simmer long and slow until the meat literally falls off the bone, usually three and half to four hours. Add more water if bone becomes exposed. Strain, reserving solids and broth. Refrigerate broth overnight, then lift the fat off and discard. Yield should be about 21 cups.

Sort through the strained solids and remove the meat (three to four cups.) Divide meat into three freezer safe containers and refrigerate. The next day, after removing the fat from the broth, measure into each of the three containers. Label each with the amount of broth and the date, and freeze. This broth is rich enough to be cut with a bit of water, but you will need to know how much broth is in the container in order to make certain you know how much water to add to make a recipe.

Ham Hock: If you don’t have a ham bone or broth in your freezer, simply use two ham hocks and make a smaller amount using the same method, above.

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read Strategies Applied for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Nutrition per serving:

Cal 287; Cal fr Fat 31, 11%fat; Tot Fat 4g, Sat Fat 0g; Chol 4mg; Sod 654mg; Pot 643 mg; Tot Carb 53g; Fib 10g, Sug 6g, Prot 12g.

Put Your Own Spin on It:

Cooking:  You can saute the vegetables in olive oil before adding in the broth, beans and spices.  You can also drop in a whole jalapeno or Serrano pepper, or use canned green chiles instead of green pepper.  If you have cubano pepeprs in your area, that would probably be most traditional, a poblano would work, but here in the states, most people I know use the green bell peppers.

Garnish as simple or as fancy as you’d like:  Think lime, thin slices of avocado, finely diced red onion, thinly sliced radish, cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, sour cream, crema, cilantro or any other garnish that strikes your fancy.

Recipe made April 2012 for about $3.40, remade February 2014 for $2.70. The difference? Primarily I’ve gotten better at buying the simple carrot and got a great deal on green peppers for 40 cents each.

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