I’ve had a lifelong Latin love affair with frijoles negros (black beans)—a dark and mysterious recipe that I just can’t get enough of. And once you’ve loaded a spoonful of my steaming hot Black Bean Soup topped with a cold dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of red onions and chopped cilantro, you’ll become a Latin lover, too.

Smoked ham is one of the keys to my Black Bean Soup. (All photos credit: George Graham
Smoked ham is one of the keys to my Black Bean Soup. (All photos credit: George Graham)

There are several reasons my Black Bean Soup recipe is a consistent winner. First, is the quick sauté in bacon grease, a magical flavor addition to most any hearty dish. And if that weren’t enough smoke and pork-infused flavor, I add smoked ham hocks for the tantalizing taste and the meaty morsels that infuse the pot. And finally, I season my soup—and most any Latin-inspired dish—with a shake of Bijol. If you haven’t discovered this little South-of-the-border trick, pick up a small can of it at your neighborhood Latin grocery. You’ll find a variety of uses for it.

Pair a bowl of this soup with my Cajun Cuban Sandwich and discover a spicy combination.

Black Bean Soup
Recipe by:
  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 2 cups diced red onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Bijol seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream, for garnish
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Lime wedges
  1. In a large pot with a heavy lid over medium-high heat, add the bacon grease and sauté 1 cup of the onions and the celery just until the onions turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, white pepper, and onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, Bijol, and lime juice. Add the beans along with the chicken stock and ham hock, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the beans are tender and the meat from the hock is falling off the bone, about 1 hour.
  2. Remove the ham hock and debone. Discard the fat and bone, and return chunks of the meat to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream, diced onions and cilantro leaves. Serve with wedges of fresh lime.
Bijol is a seasoning powder sold in most Latin groceries. Beans will soak up the liquid; add more water if needed.
Spicy and creamy, this Black Bean Soup recipe is easy.
Spicy and creamy, this Black Bean Soup recipe is easy.

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