Very Best Cuban Black Bean Soup (Stovetop + Instant Pot)
A hearty and filling Cuban black bean soup that you can make on the stovetop or in the instant pot. My Cuban black bean soup is vegan-friendly and is sure to be warm and comforting!
Ultra cozy, warm, and comforting.
A bowl of Cuban black bean soup is what got me through the crazy flu season this past December. The first time I had this soup was at a local restaurant right around the corner from home. It was just a week or so after moving into the new place and it super chilly out so I ordered a bowl of soup. You couldn’t believe the number of times I’ve been back to this place for recipe inspirations after that.
And when I went under the weather for a whole month last year, all I wanted was soup for weeks on end. At this point, I had exhausted the usual go-to flu-fighting chicken noodle, herb-loaded chicken orzo soup, and my Italian wedding soup so many times that I almost started clucking like a chicken myself. CNS is great but when you’re sick for a month, you definitely need a little variety in your soup repertoire.
In walked this Cuban black bean soup, loaded with tender black beans, a thick and hearty broth loaded with peppers, onions, and garlic and it had the most addicting sweet and slightly tangy flavor to the soup base. All it needed was a big scoop of rice and I was left with a soup-like comfort food meal that I could eat 365 days of the year.
What I love most about my homemade Cuban black bean soup is that it’s naturally vegetarian-friendly. Sure, I’ll swap the vegetable stock for a couple of bouillon cubes and water when I’m all out but for the most part, this recipe doesn’t really need any meat. Too often I’ll make fluffy white rice and add a scoop to my bowl before ladling on the soup and topping it with diced or sliced avocados. Black bean soup is so ridiculously comforting.
I know I’ve shared cheaters Cuban black beans with you before. I also took the liberty of adding cilantro and lime (which is totally not traditional) but if you wanted to turn today’s soup into Cuban black beans, you could definitely do so by cutting back on the stock a little bit, to begin with, or just simmering the liquid for longer and until the beans stew down a bit more and more of the liquid evaporates. Just be sure to hold off on salting them. The concentrated amount of liquid may not even need the salt that we add at the end when we’re making soup. And if you’re into refried beans, I’ve got you covered there as well.
Call me the black bean queen because I’m so obsessed with them.
What do you need to make Cuban black bean soup?
- Dried Black beans
- Peppers (bell peppers + Cubanelle or a Serrano)
- Garlic cloves
- Bay leaves
- Vegetable or chicken stock
- dried oregano + ground cumin
- Red wine vinegar
- Brown sugar (or muscovado sugar if you happen to have some)
How to make Cuban black bean soup in the instant pot:
You can make the entire soup in the instant pot from start to finish.
- First, we’ll click the saute setting, heat the oil, and get the onions, pepper, garlic, and bay leaves going.
- Once the veggies have had a chance to soften, add in the black beans (just rinse them before adding them,) stock, oregano, and cumin.
- Cover the instant pot and make sure it’s on the ‘seal’ setting. Pressure cook the soup on manual and high pressure for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, allow a 10-minute natural pressure release.
- Then, remove the bay leaves, season with red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt.
What do I need to change if I make Cuban black bean soup on the stovetop?
The most important change you’ll need to make if you make the stovetop version of this recipe is you’ll need to pretreat the black beans before making the soup. There are two methods to do so:
- soak the beans: if you’re planning ahead and have the time, I highly suggest soaking the beans overnight. This makes cooking them the next day a breeze, and personally, I find that they cook up much, much fast this way. All you have to do is add the black beans to a large bowl (about 3 times a much as the number of beans) and fill it up with water. Rinse out the water and repeat once more. Then, allow the beans to soak overnight (about 8-12 hours,) drain, and use as directed.
- Do a quick soak: if you didn’t get a chance to soak the beans ahead of time, here’s a fix: add the beans to a medium pot and cover them with water. Bring the beans to a boil, cook for two minutes before turning off the heat completely. Allow the beans to sit covered in the water for 1 hour. Drain and use it as if you’d presoaked the beans!
How to make Cuban black bean soup on the stovetop:
- Once you’ve soaked the beans, it’s really straight forward. You’ll saute the peppers, onions, garlic, and bay leaves in some oil on the stovetop.
- When the veggies have softened and the onions are translucent, add the black beans, stock, oregano, and cumin to the pot. Stir to combine and bring the soup to a boil.
- Lower the heat to low and allow the soup to simmer covered but with a small slit to let out the steam for roughly 1 ½ -2 hours or until the beans have cooked through. You can pure ½ the soup in a blender if you want a thicker consistency. The beans are usually so soft that I just use a wooden spoon and smash some against the wall of the soup pot. Why clean an extra piece of equipment if you don’t have to?
- Season the soup with red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt. Taste and adjust the soup to your personal preference. You can even simmer the soup longer to thicken it up a bit if you’d like. Keep in mind the soup does thicken a bit as it sits, so I usually let it cool for 15 minutes before serving. Top with chopped avocados, cilantro, and onions and serve.
How to serve Cuban black bean soup:
There are a couple of different ways to serve this soup:
- I’ve been doing a bit of cutting back on my carb intake lately, so I opted to serve this soup with chopped cilantro, onions, and a handful of leftover peppers for some crunch. And it works great if you’re wanted to keep things light.
- On a normal day, I would serve this soup in a large bowl with a scoop of freshly made rice topped with black bean soup. It is seriously the most comforting meal on a rainy day and I’m all here for it.
What about leftovers? Can I freeze the leftover black bean soup?
Yes, absolutely! You can freeze leftover soup, and also meal prep the soup for boxed lunches throughout the week. I firmly believe that this soup actually tastes better as it sits. Making it ideal to make a batch on the weekend and enjoy it all week long.
Other tips for making a great pot of bean soup:
- To make the soup faster: I definitely suggest using the instant pot method. That way, you don’t have to soak the beans, you can directly go from dry beans to finished soup in about an hour!
- Older beans: I’ve made a ton of black bean soup in the instant pot. And one thing that I’ve noticed is that if I’m using organic black bans or ones that I’ve had in the pantry for some time, they can take quite a bit longer to cook than freshly purchased black beans. Sometimes as much as 10 minutes longer in the instant pot!
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 ½ green bell peppers, finely diced
- ½ red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 cubanelle pepper or serrano pepper, finely chopped (remove ribs and seeds for less spice)
- 6-10 cloves garlic, minced ( we like it with 10!)
- 3 bay leaves
Cuban Black Bean Soup:
- 1 pound (~2 cups) dried black beans, rinsed (soak if doing the stovetop version)
- 5-6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons EACH: dried oregano AND ground cumin
- 2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (according to taste)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or muscovado sugar)
- SAUTE: Heat the oil in a 4 quart (or larger) dutch oven or soup pot (or on the saute setting in your instant pot) over medium-high heat. When warm, add the onions, peppers, garlic, and bay leaves and saute for 5-6 minutes or until the veggie soften and the onions are translucent.
- STOVE TOP: Add the black beans, 6 cups of stock, oregano, and cumin and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat too low, cover, and simmer for 1 ½ -2 hours or until the beans are cooked through. Remove the bay leaves.
INSTANT POT: Add the black beans, 5 cups of stock, oregano, and cumin. Cover, make sure the vent is sealed. Cook on manual high pressure for 30 minutes. If using organic or older beans, they may require additional time. Once the timer goes off, allow a natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Then do a quick release to let out any remaining pressure. Stir the soup and test the beans for doneness; remove the bay leaves.
- FINISH (STOVE AND IP): You can puree ½ the soup in the blender if you want it to be thicker. I usually just smash using a wooden spoon on the walls of the pot until it reaches my desired consistency. Season with 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, sugar, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir and adjust with additional vinegar, sugar, and salt as needed. Allow the soup to cool for 15 minutes. It should thicken a bit as it sits. Top with chopped avocados, and serve with cooked rice!
- It’s important to soak the beans overnight. If you decide to make this soup and don’t have presoaked beans, add the beans to a medium pot and cover with water. Bring the beans to a boil, cook for two minutes, turn off the heat and allow the beans to sit covered for 1 hour. Drain and use it as if you’d presoaked the beans!
- The soup does thicken as it sits and you may need more stock to thin leftovers