Potaje de Frijoles Colorados

Red Bean Soup

The beans most often associated with Cuban cooking are frijoles negros, but Cubans eat many kinds of beans and legumes. Red beans are especially popular in the eastern provinces, where they are used to make congrí (red beans and rice), and hearty soups like this one. Serve with crusty Pan Cubano (Cuban Bread).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup diced thick-sliced bacon (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup diced chorizo or ham steak
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • cups chopped onion (1 medium)
  • cups chopped Anaheim chiles or green bell pepper
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked red beans
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup white wine
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup peeled diced red potato (1 medium)
  • 1 cup peeled diced calabaza or butternut squash
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Method

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and place it in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. To the skillet, add the chorizo and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Remove it with the slotted spoon and add it to the bacon. Pour off all but a thin film of drippings from the skillet. Add the onion and chiles to the skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. While the onion mixture is cooking, crush the garlic in a garlic press into a mortar or small bowl. Add the salt, cumin, oregano, and black pepper and use a pestle or a fork to mash the seasonings to a paste. Add the seasonings to the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add this sofrito to the meats. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, broth, wine, and lime juice. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat. Add the potato and calabaza. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle the soup with the cilantro, if desired, and serve.