Frijoles Colorados (Cuban Red Bean Soup)

Growing up, my Cuban grandmother would cook up a bean soup orpotajes, as we call them, at least once a week. Like any Cuban cook, it would be a different one every time. It would typically We'd have black beans, red beans, white beans, lentils, chick peas or some other bean. I loved them all, but black beans were my favorite.

My wife's favorite is red beans orcolorados and I've started liking them a lot too.  Here's my recipe for my Frijoles Colorados done in a very delicious and healthy way.  I've also added some pairing information so you can have it with a glass of wine that goes perfectly with it.

The Pairing

I typically serve red beans with rice as a side dish with pork or chicken.  Whether it's with pork, chicken or by itself,  I would recommend alight to medium bodied red.  Given that Cuban food origins lie squarely in Spain, why not go with a Spanish Tempranillo.  Something similar could be an Italian Chianti or another Sangiovese from there.  You might also consider a Pinot Noir.

If you are wanting white, you might try a Chardonnay.  My Chardonnay preference is a non-oaked one, but if you're into oaky California-style Chardonnay, give that a try.

Let me know what you think.

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The Recipe

  • 14 oz. bag of Red Kidney Beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 lbs of smoked sausage cut into chunks.  The traditional way calls for 4 Spanish chorizos (not the spicy ones) with 1 lb of  smoked ham.  Substitute with that and follow the recipe just the same.
  • 4 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 lbs of calabaza (Caribbean squash) cut into one to two inch chunks.  If you can't find that, use Butternut Squash or plain ol' pumpkin. 
  • 1 green pepper, chopped in the food processor.
  • 1 medium onion, chopped in the food processor.
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped in the food processor.
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place beans and the water in a large put and soak for two hours. Some people soak them overnight, but I find that two hours is plenty. You'll see the beans get bloated.
  2. In the same pot, bring the beans to boil. Lower the stove to low heat and cover. Let it simmer for a half hour. You should be able to taste a bean and have it feel soft, but not fully cooked yet.
  3. In a separate large skillet, add the olive oil and heat it over medium high.  When it gets hot, add the onions, peppers and garlic.  Cook for 7 to 8 minutes.  
  4. Pour the contents of the skillet into the large page and add the remaining ingredients too. Bring that to a boil, reduce het to low and slow boil for 1 to 2 hours.  You'll want to calabaza or squash to be falling apart and becoming part of the soupy liquid. If you see that it's becoming too thick, you may need to add some water.
  5. Salt to taste.
  6. Serve in a bowl like you would soup or pour it over rice and use that as a side dish.  
  7. Enjoy