Black Bean Soup
8 servings
Adapted from ¡Cuba! and Cabbagetown Café Cookbook You can either pit your own green olives, or if you want to use Spanish-style or Manzanilla green olives, as they are sometimes called (the kind sold in jars, stuffed with pimentos), no need to remove the pimentos – just chop them up with the olives, and add them. Jalapeno peppers are a good choice for the chiles, but feel free to use any that suit your tastes. I would avoid peppers that are too strong or hot, as they’ll overwhelm the soup.
2 cups (450g, 1 pound) dried black beans
2 bay leaves
9 cups (2,15l) water
2 bell peppers, stemmed and seeded, one split in half, one diced
2 medium onions, peeled, one split in half, one diced
1 teaspoon, plus 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1-2 chiles, such as jalapenos, stemmed, seeded (or you can add the seeds), and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2/3 cup (95g) chopped pitted green olives
1. In a large pot, such as a Dutch oven, soak the beans overnight with the water and bay leaves. (It’s an optional step, but can help them cook faster.)
2. The next day, add the halved pepper and halved onion to the bean pot. Bring the beans to a boil, lower the temperature to a simmer, and cook the beans partially covered, skimming off and discarding any scum, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour, adding 1 teaspoon of salt midway during cooking.
3. While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the diced pepper and onion, and cook until wilted, seasoning with 1 teaspoon of salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper, about 5 minutes. (You may need to add a bit more olive oil if the mixture is too dry or is burning.) Add the garlic and chile peppers, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, then add the cumin and oregano, and cook for another minute, until aromatic. Turn off heat and add a small splash of water, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any stuck on bits. Set aside.
4. When the beans are cooked, remove the halved onion and pepper from the bean pot, as well as the bay leaves. (Discard the bay leaves.) Puree the onion and pepper halves in a blender or food processor (or with a potato masher) along with about 2 cups (320g) of the beans and enough of their liquid so they’ll puree, if using a machine.
5. Return the pureed vegetables and beans back to the pot and add the red wine vinegar, chopped olives and cooked vegetables. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook about 15 to 20 minutes more, seasoning with additional salt, if desired.

Serving: Serve with a dollop of crema or sour cream. A nice touch is to add fresh lime juice to the cream, to taste. Garnishes could include chopped cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese (in place of the sour cream), diced avocado, and/or pickled onions.

Storage: The soup is good the same days it’s made, but some prefer it the second day, which it thickens up. The soup can be refrigerated for 3-4 days. It’ll thicken up quite a bit, but can be thinned out with water or stock.