National Hispanic Heritage Month: Black CuBEAN Soup
By: Briana Jacinto, Torrance Memorial Dietetic Intern and co-written by Dani Rodriguez-Brindicci, MS, RDN, Director of Clinical Nutrition
As we continue to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th, it is important to honor and highlight different countries that have made a strong impact in today’s society. Hispanic influences are woven into the fabric of American life-especially in international dishes from various regions. Let’s travel through our taste buds to the northern Caribbean region, where we will find Cuba, the largest Caribbean island and home of the indigenous recipe-Cuban black bean soup!
Black bean soup, or Sopa de Frijoles Negros, has been a part of the Cuban cuisine since the arrival of the popular legume in the 1500s. Bean soups are cooked throughout Cuba, each part of the country has its own style of preparation resulting in different soup variations, but black bean soup is by far the most popular. This earthy and flavorful meal is composed of simple ingredients including green and red peppers and onion, which are typically used to make the soup base. These aromatic elements are stir-fried in oil and pureed to create sofrito (sauce) and combined with other staple ingredients such as garlic, salt, vinegar, and tender black beans. Every ingredient has a role; the vegetables in the bean broth balance the heat factor of the sofrito. Once the soup has simmered and thickened, garnish a warm bowl with chopped red onion and parsley to continue the month-long celebration of Latin cuisine!
Black beans are a cherished staple of numerous Cuban meals. Often referred to as a turtle bean- due to its hard shell- they have a rich flavor when compared to other beans like navy or white beans, as harvesting may take upwards of 3 months. Black beans are an excellent source of protein and provide vital nutrients including fiber, iron, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B. Interestingly, black beans may help strengthen bones, as calcium and phosphorus are important in bone structure, while iron and zinc play crucial roles in maintaining strength and elasticity of bones and joints. These tiny but nutrient-packed legumes contain potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6, and phytonutrients, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health by decreasing blood pressure. Additionally, the high content of fiber helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood and decrease the risk of heart disease making Cuban black bean soup a heart-y meal!
Black CuBEAN Soup Recipe
Enjoy a warm bowl of Cuban black bean soup- rich in protein and loaded with veggies and flavorful spices! Cubans typically serve this delicacy with white rice however it can be equally delicious on its own!
Recipe (serves 6)
- 1 lb black beans
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6 cups water
- 1 tsp black pepper, or to taste
- 3 Tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Rinse and soak beans overnight to reduce cooking time. Cook in water until beans are soft (about 1 hour over medium flame)
- Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, salt and sugar; start mashing the beans and stir occasionally until soup thickens to your satisfaction (they shouldn’t be too watery or too thick)
- Add olive oil and vinegar; enjoy!
Tip: The bell pepper adds more taste if roasted before adding. To roast bell pepper, place on top of the burner until almost black, wrap it in foil for 10 minutes, and finally brush under water to remove the skin.
Nutrition Information (1 cup for serving):
Calories: 245, Protein: 15g, Carbohydrate: 45g, Total Fat: 0.5g, Saturated Fat: 0g
If you have questions or are interested in learning more techniques to help build a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, contact one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office or our Diabetes Self-Management Program located in the Torrance Memorial Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707.