Hearty Black Bean Soup with Ham April 30, 2014

  Ham, Vegetables and Chili Spices Add A Kick to this Soup!Cuban Black Bean Soup

Happy Spring or Not!  It is May and it seems that since the end of March we have been teased with several Spring even Summer like days with temperatures up in the 70’s. You would think as I gaze out my office window at 6am  that I would see the beauty of the flowers popping up through the ground, the birds chirping and the sun rising, covering everything with its warmth and brightness!  Snap out of that vision…. because all I have seen this past week is torrential rain, wind and freezing cold temperatures.  My poor little flowers are hanging sideways, the birds are shivering and I have not felt or seen the sun shining in many many days.

So, the light spring citrus salad recipe  I was ready to post today is being replaced with a rich, hearty and warm Black Bean Soup with Ham! This is a perfect soup for cold winter weather……oh that’s right its  May, haha!  Well as long as it feels like winter, this soup is perfect to fill your tummy and warm your soul! This recipe is my variation on a classic  cuban black bean soup, which has cumin therefore tasting more on the line of having a chili type flavor. My mother never made black bean, she made the traditional white bean with tomato. I don’t think she intended to make it vegetarian but it was, for she did not use any chicken stock or meat in her soup. Her bean soup was simple but delicious, I will post that recipe as well, especially if we go into June and it still feels like winter!!!

First you need to start out with a ham that has most of the meat eaten, Then what is left is all that meat around the bone that you cannot get to. A spiral ham is perfect because they only pre-cut the first few pieces and then you are on your own. How many times have you stood before a spiral ham where all the pre-cut pieces are gone and you are pulling, tugging or trying to cut around the bone to get a chunk of that smoky deliciousness, haha! The solution, buy a nice bone in spiral and if you are having more than 5 people, buy a small boneless ham as well. Then you can place the spiral on a platter, slice the boneless ham and lay it around the base of your spiral. It will be beautiful and plenty for everyone!

Now, what to do with that spiral that has plenty of good meat left on it??  Soup…..Black Bean, White Bean, Pea Soup, Omelets, Quiches or Ham Salad. I had a big ham at our Eater Beast Feast, and since I didn’t have time to making anything out of it right away, I simply froze it. When I was ready I just put it in a big pot with water and this began the journey to delicious ham recipes.

The key to getting every bit of the ham meat off the bone is to make a stock with it. By that I mean put it in a big pot and cover it with water and slowly simmer for several hours until the meat falls off the bone. You do not need to add any vegetables to this because it will produce a wonderful broth/stock on it’s own. Especially if the ham had a glaze, it flavors the water with a tad of sweetness to your stock/broth. If you are making this black bean recipe, a little sweet is good for this recipe has sweet red pepper and brown sugar.

Now if you don’t want sweet because you want to use the meat and the broth/stock for one of the other dishes I mentioned, no worries. Just rinse the ham in warm water to melt off the glaze before you ass it to your pot of water. Once the ham has cooked and the meat is falling off the bone, remove it from the pot, it will be in pieces. Throw away the fat and the bone unless you have a big dog, then he will be in heaven. Now simply smooth away any of the fat that is on the chunks of meat, no need to use a knife it will slide right off.  Once it is clean, if you want chunks, then use a knife and cut the meat in chunks. If you like it shredded in your soups, then just pull it apart. At this point you can put it in a Ziploc bag and freeze it using it later for any of the suggestions above or whatever you might use ham in. Now don’t forget to mark the Ziploc and date it, because unmarked frozen food in a bag is sometimes unrecognizable, ask me how I know!!!

Black Bean with Ham                                                                 Cuban Black Bean Soup

prep: 20 min       cook time: 1 hour       yield: 5 quarts

1 ham bone with some meat

4 guarts of water

2 bags black beans (dried)

2 quarts ham stock ( this is what you will yield after you boil the ham bone)

1 quart water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large sweet onion (diced)

2 bunches of scallions (sliced on an angle/bias)

 5 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 large sweet red peppers ( diced or in small strips)                                     Cuban Black Bean Soup

1 large fresh jalapeño, seeded and diced or 1 x 7 oz can green jalapeños

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tbsp. chili powder ( I used ancho, but regular chili powder is fine)

1 tbsp. black pepper ( I use fresh ground)

3 tbsp. turbinado sugar or sugar in the raw sugar

1 tbsp. cider vinegar


Place the ham in a big pot and cover with at least  4 quartets of water or enough to cover the ham. Let come to a boil and simmer for 3 or 4 hours until the meat pulls away from the bone. Pull the meat out and throw away the fat and the bone. Strain the stock/broth, you should yield at least 2 quarts (8 cups) liquid. You can do this is a month a week or a day in advance. So now if you are not making the soup right away you can freeze the meat and even freeze the stock for whenever you are ready.  

Cuban Black Bean SoupTake the 2 bags of beans, rinse and place them in a pot, fill with water to double the beans. Let them soak at least 12 hours or overnight, they will expand, soaking up the water. It takes 2 min. to dump these dry beans in a pot of water and is an important step. Just leave them on top of the stove covered no heat. Next day drain out the water, rinse and put the beans back in the pot, place the 2 quarts ham stock and 2 quarts water in the pot with the beans and stir well. Let the beans cook, stirring occasionally for about 1 hour or until beans are tender. Take your immersion blender and blend the beans for about 40 seconds. You want some of the beans pureed, but you want some of them whole as well. You will have a wonderful base for your soup.

While the beans are cooking prep the vegetables. Heat the oil, add the onion, scallions, red pepper, fire roasted tomatoes, #jalapeños and garlic. Sauté on medium heat for about 10 minutes until slightly soft. Add the #turbinado sugar, cider vinegar, cumin, chili powder and black pepper, stir and cook another 5 minutes. Add the bean mixture to the vegetables, stir well. Now add all of your cut up ham and stir again.

Cuban Black Bean Soup

Cuban Black Bean SoupA note about the jalapenos, if you are using fresh, please wear gloves and do not touch your face or eyes. Most of the heat is in the seeds so carefully cut, scrape out seeds and then was the knife and the cutting board. If even the slightest bit of essence gets in your eyes it will be very painful. If you don’t want it spicy omit the jalapeno or don’t want the fuss, buy a can of chopped green jalapenos, easy.  Also the turbinado sugar is a good alternative to white sugar, it contains more of the nutrients. If you only have white sugar that is fine.

Let simmer for about 20 minutes, then taste for salt. Because Ham is naturally salty, I never add it to this soup. I don’t think you will need it, but at least wait until the soup is finished to see if it is salty enough. Remember you can freeze this soup or share with friends, it is really really good! You will love the flavor and it is hearty and delicious and just the right amount of fiber from the beans and maybe a few” toots” to go with it, haha!

Unless we have a last minute May Blizzard, my next post will be perfect for Spring!!! 

Enjoy!                                             Cuban Black Bean Soup

Cheff Steff  Cuban Black Bean Soup






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