Back in the grad school days when we lived in Baltimore, I was a heavy slow cooker user. Slow cooker recipes can usually stretch ingredients (read: cost effective for a grad school budget), and they fit with my lifestyle of having later starts to my work day and longer evenings.
I especially sought out recipes with beans because the magic combo of beans and rice kept us alive and fairly nutritionally balanced, even when it was the end of the month and our grocery budget wasn’t keeping up with our appetites.
This was a huge winner from that time and I recently became obsessed with tracking it down to make it again after many years (hello weird pregnancy cravings lol). Jameson and I debated whether it would taste as good as we remembered, because some of the things we ate at that time in our lives… let’s just say you won’t be seeing a recipe for “pesto mush” on the blog any time soon! As evidenced by the fact that you are reading this, yes, it was every bit as delicious as we remembered. Enjoy!
Slow cooker Cuban black bean soup
Adapted from this recipe from The Kitchn.
This recipe literally takes 1.5-2 days to cook in the slow cooker. I promise it’s worth it!
1 pound dried black beans
10 cups water, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package smoked ham hocks (usually 2-3 per package)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1-2 cups diced ham (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
To garnish (optional):
Chopped raw red onion
Cook the beans
The night before you want to eat your soup, cook the black beans in your slow cooker.
Pick over your beans (look for broken beans, damaged beans, rocks, etc.) and rinse them in cool water.
Add the beans to your slow cooker and add 6 cups of water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or until beans are tender (overnight is best).
Assemble the soup base
The next morning, add an additional 4 cups of water to the cooked beans in your slow cooker. Add the ham hocks, onion, garlic, olive oil, and bell pepper. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can add 1/4 tsp of ground cumin as well!
Cook the soup base on low for 8-10 hours, until the ham begins falling off the bones.
Add the apple cider vinegar and diced ham, if using. Continue to cook on low for 30 min to 1 hr after adding vinegar.
Build your bowl
The beans should now be broken down and velvety smooth, so it’s ready! Remove the ham hock bones and any fat or skin from the ham hocks. Dice any meat from the ham hocks and return it to your soup.
Build your bowl of soup over rice, topped with optional garnishes.