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Black Bean Soup

Puerto Rican cuisine has an exciting and delicious flavor. Puerto Rico is a small, tropical island in the Caribbean about 2000 miles from the United States. Given its geography, Puerto Rico’s flavors impart not only traditional Spanish cooking but also use local, abundant flavors.

Puerto Rican cooking consists of a mix of many different cultures including Spanish, African, Taíno, and American inspirations. The original inhabitants of Puerto Rico fed on a diet of corn, tropical fruit, and island seafood. In 1493, when Columbus arrived, the Spanish brought beef, pork, rice, wheat, and olive oil. Afterwards, sugarcane was planted and slaves were brought from Africa, which also brought okra and taro (known in Puerto Rico as yautia). As a result of all these various events, the delicious and distinct flavors of Puerto Rico were born.

A staple in Puerto Rican cooking is Black Bean Soup (frijoles negros). Some argue that Black Bean Soup came from Cuba and some argue that it originated in Puerto Rico. Nevertheless, Black Bean Soup is delicious! For this recipe of Black Bean Soup, be sure to taste periodically and correct the seasoning to your liking!

Puerto Rican Black Bean Soup
Serves 5-6 people


Madeira wine

1. Soak beans overnight according to package directions.
2. Drain the beans and put into a large soup/stock pot. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1½ hours. Check periodically to ensure the beans are always covered with liquid. If necessary, add more stock or water.
3. Finely chop onion and celery. In a separate pot, melt the butter over medium. Add celery, onion, and garlic. Sauté until softened, about 7-8 minutes.
4. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Be sure to whisk constantly.
5. Stir the vegetable mixture into the beans. Add bay leaf and pepper to taste (a few quick turns is good). Cover and simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours. Check occasionally and stir. Add more stock/water if necessary.
6. Remove and discard bay leaf. Add salt to taste. Add ¾ of the soup to puree in a food processor until smooth. Add the pureed mixture back into the pot with the solid bean mixture and combine. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
7. If using the wine, add a few quick splashes and taste. Reheat the soup to combine and serve alone or with rice added for more substance.

This soup is excellent for a light meal or as an appetizer to a heartier dish. Enjoy!

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