Ybor City Black Bean Soup
This black bean soup recipe is similar to that made at the Tampa Ybor
(Ee-bore) City area's famous Colombia Restaurant, in hundreds of Miami Cuban
restaurants and cantinas, in thousands of Cuban-American homes once or twice a
week and always on Noche Buena (Christmas Eve). It has some healthier additions,
plus beans themselves are highly nutritious with lots of fiber, and the recipe
is very low fat. An excellent choice for those cold, rainy autumn evenings.
7 to 8 cups of water
1 pound (approx.) pkg. of black beans, about 2 1/2 cups
2 ham hocks OR 1 ham end or leftover ham bone with some meat
2 whole bay leaves, OR 1/2 teaspoon ground bay leaf
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, washed and cubed
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and scraped
4 garlic cloves, mashed or chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional but recommended)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt or salt substitute, or to taste (optional, taste first)
The fastest way to make this soup is with a pressure cooker. If you don't have
one, it's just as easy but takes longer.
Pick over and rinse the beans. Cover with half the water and set aside to soak.
Place the ham hocks or ham bone in a pressure cooker. Add the rest of the water
and the bay leaf (if you are using whole ones). Cook on high pressure for about
Remove from heat. Run under cold water to reduce pressure. Take out the bay
leaf. Skim the broth of all fat, or run through a gravy separator. Return the
broth to the pan.
To the broth and ham, add the beans with the water they are soaking in. Add the
onions, green pepper, oregano, cumin, garlic and black pepper. While it is
coming to a boil, cut the carrots into three-inch pieces. Slit each one into
quarters lengthwise to make skinny three-inch long strips. Add to beans. Cap and
bring up to pressure. As soon as it is fully pressurized, turn heat to low. Cook
for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and depressurize. Check to make sure the beans are extremely
tender (older beans may take longer to cook). Remove the ham hocks or ham bone
to a plate. Ladle about a third of the beans into a blender or food processor (a
hand held blender works well too) with as little liquid and vegetables as
possible. Process until creamy. Scrape back into the pan. Cut the ham from the
bones. Cut into pieces, including the skin, removing all visible fat.
Return the meat to the beans, discarding the bones. Add salt, vinegar and olive
oil. Stir to mix. Check seasonings. You may add more salt, black pepper or even
hot pepper sauce if a spicier soup is desired.
Pack white rice into a custard cup or similar small deep container (even a
teacup will do). Invert onto a shallow soup plate. Ladle bean soup around the
rice. Garnish mounded rice with a little black pepper and some chopped parsley
or cilantro, or dried parsley flakes. Or top soup with a dollop of sour cream.
Garnish with some chopped parsley or cilantro, or a sprinkle of paprika. Or
garnish with three thin slices of avocado floating on the surface of the soup,
plus a sprinkle of chopped ripe tomato.
Best served with hot crusty Cuban bread for dipping in the soup.
This recipe makes a little over 2 quarts of soup. If too much is left over, it