Monday, June 30, 2008

Los Frijoles Colorados de Mery (Red Bean Soup)

We spent a wonderful afternoon at Mery and Angelito's (Cris' in-laws) house not only learning how to make a fantastic Cuban style red bean soup, but also looking at old pictures, telling stories and drinking wine!

This soup recipe makes about 8 servings and can also be served in the traditional Cuban fashion over white rice.

Mery, our teacher!

The Ingredients

12 oz. bag Red Kidney Beans
4 cups water - enough to cover the beans
1 lb. Smoked Pork Shank - leave whole
1 lb. Smoked Pork Shoulder (ham) - chunked
6 oz. Spanish Chorizo (3-4 sausages) - leave whole
1/3 Medium Green Pepper - chopped
1/2 Medium Onion - chopped
2 large garlic cloves - minced
2 Bay Leaves
1/4 cup corn oil
2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Black Pepper to taste
Salt to taste
3 Small Potatoes - peeled and cubed
2 lb Calabaza - peeled, seeded and cubed

The Process
  1. Soak beans in plain water for 2 hours. (You can do this in the pressure cooker to avoid using another pot)

  1. Add 4 cups water, put the lid on the pressure cooker and seal. Cook on High until the cooker pressurizes.
  2. Once the cooker has pressurized change the stove temperature to Medium. Cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat until all pressure is gone. Remove the lid.
  4. Set on low heat and add the smoked pork shoulder, smoked pork shank, chorizo, green pepper, onion, bay leaves, garlic, corn oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.
  5. Without replacing the lid return to heat, taste for salt and pepper, add more if needed. Set on Medium for about 45 minutes until the soup is thick enough to coat a spoon.
  6. Add the potatoes and calabaza.
  7. Leave on Medium for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  8. Remove from heat.
TIP: When you're making any Cuban-style bean "potaje", if it doesn’t thicken properly, for whatever reason, scoop out some of the beans and puree them in the blender. Add the pureed beans back into the pot to help the thickening process.

The Finished Product

Mery served the red beans in the traditional Cuban style over white rice and with a green bean and onion salad. A California Pinot Noir was a great accompaniment.

In keeping with traditional Cuban dining, we enjoyed the most traditional of Cuban desserts, guava and cheese! We had Guava marmalade with cream cheese and Guava paste with Gouda cheese - fantastic! And to finish it all off, delicious cafecito.

Nice and simple...Another beautiful afternoon spent with wonderful food, stories and people!

¡Buen provecho!


Anonymous said...


I really enjoy your site. It is a fantastic way to assure that all those recipes that we enjoyed during our childhood continue on.

Generally, the kitchen is a place I try to stay away from but on those rare occassions that I find myself there it is comforting to know that I can seek out sites such as yours for help.

Lots of Luck and Success!!

Annie Santisteban

Nathan said...

Hey thanks for the recipe but I would like to give you some tips that will produce a better "Potaje de Frijoles Colorados" (my grandmother is Spaniard but spent much time in Cuba and my grandfather is Gallego born in Cuba)

My grandmother makes it slightly different, but here I will give you some tips to improve YOUR recipe.

I suggest instead of adding the oil,bell pepppers, onons, garlic, and chorizo straight to the stew you should make a sofrito.

Heat oil in a pan on medium high (I would use Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Lard/ Manteca)slice chorizo and infuse it into the oil by sauteing, then add onions and peppers and sautee until translucent and fragrant. Next add garlic. Sweat everything out until nice and fragrant.

Now add to the beans.

Also we tend to go heavier on the aromatics I would use 1/2 bell pepper, 1 or 1/2 onion and atleast 4 cloves garlic.

I'll share my grandmothers recipe here just so you can see a different style of this "Potaje"

Nathan said...

Potaje de Frijoles Colorados ( My Grandmothers Red Bean Stew)

“Potaje de Frijoles Colorados” can slightly vary from cook to cook. This is my grandmas version. Sometimes she did it meatless and only added potatoes to the stew if there was no pork stew meat."

-1 lb. about 2.5-3 cups Red Beans (I prefer large Red Kidney Beans but you can use smaller variations DON’T YOU DARE USE Japanese “Adzuki Beans” you may soak them overnight so they will be done quicker like in an hour)
-2 Bay Leafs
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1 lbs. pork stew meat (cut into 2 inch cubes marinade with ¼ tsp. ground cumin, ¼ tsp. dried oregano, ¼ tsp. ground black pepper, ½ tablespoon of salt, 3 cloves garlic crushed to a paste in a mortar (I crush it with all the spices and salt), and a few squeezes of fresh lime juice or bitter orange. If not for a blander taste just salt and pepper or use “GOYA“ Adobo)
-1 tablespoon salt or to taste
-1 green bell pepper minced
-1 minced onion
-4 cloves minced garlic
-4 potatoes chopped in half then in half again peeled
-4-5 large medium pieces of “Castlla Squash (or Butternut Squash or Japanese Kambucha) THIS IS OPTIONAL you can even not put potatoes and only add Squash or vise versa.
-1-2 teaspoon ground cumin
-Extra-Virgin Olive Oil to sautee, or you can use “Lard” for this it will taste great or render some “bacon grease” instead for this pork fat goes really well with this dish.

(1)Bring beans to a boil in a large pot along with oregano and 2 bay leafs (you may add salt or not some people think it stops beans from cooking or prolongs cooking time so you choice if to salt now or later with everything or in 2 parts) cover and simmer on low heat
(2)When beans are half-way or even earlier if you wish you may heat generous amount olive oil in a pan, then brown the meat on high heat and let any liquid evaporate, then Sautee onions and bell peppers until translucent, add garlic and cook until garlic is golden and fragrant, deglaze and scrape the black bits using some of the bean broth or by sweating the onions and stirring the bottom.
(3)Add this to beans and continue cooking until beans are done and meat is tender. (Anywhere from 1-2 hours)
(4)Add the potatoes and squash when beans are done cooking and cook until done (about 20 minutes) check with a fork. If stew is not as thick as you’d like you can puree some of the squash and potatoes and add it back and stir until thickened as well as mash some of the beans in there.

Hilda said...


Thanks for the recipe - the more the merrier!

Actually Meri told us that she didn't make the sofrito, but that we could...this is the *one pot* method!

purplepassion said...

In my mind's eye that's exactly how I thought the beans would be made. Soak beans here, make sofrito there..yada yada... which is robably a big reason why I have never made a potaje. This one pot toss in al in method was super easy and super tasty. Hmm...maybe when I get around to it, I'll try out both and compare. I'll let you know.

Nathan said...

I agree with you purplepassion I to love the idea of all in one pot.

I'll probably make this recipe of potaje more often because my grandmothers is more fussy and time consuming the whole mashing stuff in a mortar to marinade meat, pre-soaking overnight, having to brown meat in a pan then making the sofrito all the dirty dishes and such makes it more unappealing.

Wish I had a pressure cooker but I can still do your recipe it will just take me longer and I will have to pre-soak the beans overnight.

Nina Gail said...

I just want to know why I was not invited? LOL

I am not letting Harley see this because he will ask me to make it at least once a week. Yes, girls, I am married to a 'potaje gringo' XOXO


Nathan said...

Hello this is the same Nathan the same commentor that occasionally posted before.

I just wanted to let you know that your blog inspired me to make a cooking blog to. (I use to post my recipes on my myspace or keep records of it in my computer but I decided to put them all in a real blog)

I wanted to share stuff from my heritage (Im 1/2 Spaniard 1/2 Mexican of Cuban descendancy)

I have some Cuban recipes on there and feel free to check em out, give me feedback or critique as well :)

Hilda said...

Nathan congratulations! We're honored to have inspired you - after all imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - so thank you!

I'm going to add your Blog to the blog roll here as well as on my personal Blog.

Good luck and buen provecho!

Mamey said...

We've always used olive oil for the sofrito and for drizzling over the served beans. During the last 20 minutes of cooking we add a cup of dry white wine. At our home the bean soup usually was served alone, followed by a meat dish, a side of rice, plantains, and a salad. And lots of flautas of pan de agua. Homemade fruit desserts (papaya, mango, grapefruit, etc.) with Gouda cheese was practically the daily norm at lunchtime back in Havana, but here in the States few of us seem to have the time to make daily desserts.

Mamey said...

By the way, grazie mille for your recipes! Have you done a 'chilindron' recipe (either goat or lamb)?

Also re. Caldo Gallego being technically Spanish...not really a problem as most Cuban food is a reflection (or variation) of all the different cuisines brought to the island by migrants from Iberia, especially those of the Galicians, Catalans, Asturians, Basques and Valencians (and of course the Canarian islanders).

Nathan said...

Finally blogged about my grandmas "Potaje de Frijoles Colorados"

Maybe you'd be interested in my differrent variation of it. I called my grandma again and it was a little different from what I thought but only a little. So yeah feedback appreciated.

Anonymous said...


Im looking for a recipe for potaje with white beans I think theyre called judios. I had it the other day and brought some home for my mother and she said they were divine. Do you have any recipes or suggestions on where i might find this recipe. Keep up the awesome cooking and thanks for helping to keep all things Cuban alive and kicking.

Thank you

Hilda said...

P Mata,

We have a Blog entry that is made with white beans or "judias" - it's the recipe for "Caldo Gallego"

Hope that helps!

Maribel said...

Thank you Ladies for keeping our beautiful Cuban food traditions alive.

I am definitely going to try your frijoles colorados recipe. These beans are without a doubt my favorite.

Anonymous said...

Mery, apple cider vinegar and corn oil????? That's a no no in my book. Do you use vinegar instead of wine? Anyway, I'm known for my frijoles colorados. I make them just like Nathan's grandma. But I also make them with pork chunks, chorizo, and diced potatoes and they're amazing. Follow the original recipe replacing pork for the meats except the chorizo and the potatoes for the batata and pumkin. Marinade the pork chunks a few hours before with sour orange, salt, pepper, onion, and minced garlic (about 3 cloves). In olive oil cook the pork chunks with marinade until pork is cooked then I move the pork to the sides of pot and add the chorizo in the center and brown. I mix pork and chorizo together and proceed to cook like original recipe. Enjoy!
And to Mata, I think that white beans you're refering to is Fabada not Caldo Gallego.

Anonymous said...

I think I may be missing something; but
4 cups of water on a pressure cooker for 30 minutes?
you should end up with burn beans and a hard to clean pressure cooker

mr wonderful said...

I am so happy to have run across your blog. I am trying to make everything from arroz con pollo to lechon con yuca and congri, lol. Thank you so much.