Recipes from Mamá Rosa’s Plant Powered Cuban Kitchen,
reprinted by permission of Rosa Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1. 5 hours
Frijoles colorados (red beans) are perhaps the second most popular
beans in Cuban culture besides frijoles negros (black beans). Red beans
were widely grown in the eastern province of Oriente where I grew up.
Cubans serve potaje (pottages or bean soup) year round and with good
reason: beans are considered an essential part of any diet because
of their tremendous protein and B- 1 vitamin value. While this soup is
inherently nutritious, I recall my oldest brother Fernando—who shared my
father’s sweet tooth—insisting on adding a small piece of guava paste to
his frijoles colorados soup for a sweeter-tasting potaje. Not me though—
this recipe is delicious as is!
1 lb. ( 2 cups) small red beans
9 to 10 cups water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion (about 1 1/2 cups), peeled and finely chopped
1 green or red bell pepper (about 1 1/2 cups), cored, seeded
and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 1 can ( 15 oz.) diced
tomatoes in juice
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 vegan chorizo or 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 organic red potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 cup butternut squash (or 1/4 calabeza), peeled and
cut into chunks
1 ripe plantain, peeled and cut into chunks (optional)
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)
[For a different version, use 2 cups of super greens: kale,
spinach, Swiss chard, and carrots instead of potatoes and
1. Rinse the beans and remove any debris. In a large cooking pot,
add the rinsed beans and the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high
heat. Cover the beans, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the beans
until tender but not overcooked, approximately 45 minutes.
2. In the meantime, in a large skillet or saucepan, prepare the sofrito.
Sauté the onion and bell pepper over medium heat for 4 minutes, until
the onions are translucent and soft. Add the garlic, tomato paste or 1 can
( 15 oz.) diced tomatoes, pepper, and chorizo or liquid smoke, and cook
for about 3 minutes.
3. Add the sofrito, potatoes, butternut squash, and plantains (if desired)
to the beans. Cook over low heat for approximately 30 minutes or until the
beans, potatoes, butternut squash, and plantains are cooked and tender.
Make sure the potaje (soup) has the consistency desired. Use more water
for a soupier version.
© Mamá Rosa’s Kitchen LLC, 2016
Red Bean Soup/Potaje
you. Everyone should write a book. Tell your story. It
de Frijoles Colorados
will feel so good. It was a renaissance for me.
Jennifer Connor is a frequent Spree contributor
who writes about the interconnection of
people and place. More writing can be found at