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Cuban white bean soup served in a terracotta bowl with sliced bread on the side.

Cuban White Bean Soup

This hearty soup is loaded with white beans, smoked ham, beef, chorizo and vegetables. This is my take on Caldo Gallego, which is a popular Spanish Soup.
Course Soup
Cuisine Cuban
Keyword cuban food, cuban soups, white beans
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Soak the Beans 1 hour
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 592kcal
Author Elizabeth


  • 14 ounce Dry White Beans rinsed and soaked
  • 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 medium Onion finely diced
  • 1 large Carrot diced
  • 3 - 4 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 pound Top Sirloin Steak cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon Salt plus more if needed at the end
  • 3 - 3 ½ ounces Spanish Chorizo casings removed and cut into ¼ inch rounds
  • 1 - 1 ½ pound Smoked Ham Shanks or Ham Hocks rinsed
  • 6 cups Chicken Broth
  • 8 cups Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 large Potato peeled and cut into 1-2 inch pieces (we used russet potato)
  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard about 6 leaves thoroughly rinsed, stalks removed and leaves chopped


Prepare the white beans

  • Pick through the beans to remove any foreign objects, like small stones.
  • Add the beans to a colander and rinse them well with cold water and let drain.

Soak the beans

  • Overnight method: Add the white beans to a pot. Cover the beans with 3-4 cups of water. Let the beans soak overnight. Drain the water completely and rinse the beans well with fresh, cold water and drain.
  • Quick soaking method: Add the beans and 6-8 cups of water to a large pot. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Boil the beans for 2 minutes, then remove them from the heat, cover and allow them to soak for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans well.

Start the White Bean Soup

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the onions and carrots. Cook the vegetables for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions become translucent and start to soften.
  • Add the garlic, dried oregano and cumin to the pot. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Sprinkle the beef with ½ teaspoon of salt.
  • Add the beef and chorizo to the pot. Cook the meat for 5 minutes or so, until the beef is brown. Stir and turn the beef pieces occasionally to brown on all sides.
  • Add the chicken broth, water and the bay leaf to the pot. Stir to combine the ingredients well, while gently scrapping any bits off the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the ham shank/hocks and white beans to the soup. Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil; it will take about 10 minutes.
  • Once boiling, lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 - 25 minutes. Keep the liquid boiling, but not too vigorously. Lower or raise the heat as needed.
  • Set the ham on a cutting board and allow it to cool.
  • Continue cooking the beans, covered and on medium heat while you chop the ham.
  • When the ham is cool enough to handle, remove the skin, fat and bone. Chop the remaining meat and add it back to the soup. Discard the skin, fat and bone.
  • Cover the pot and cook the soup for approximately 45 - 60 minutes, or until the beans are just about tender. Stir the soup occasionally, more often as it starts to thicken so that the ingredients don’t stick and burn on the bottom.
  • Add the potatoes and chard to the white bean soup. If you had the potatoes in water remember to drain them before adding them to the soup.
  • Continue cooking the soup for 15-17 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the chard is wilted.
  • Stir the soup more often from this point forward, as it should be thickening.
  • Taste the Cuban white bean soup and add salt to taste if needed. As a reference we added 1½ teaspoon to ours.


We want to hold off until the end before adding extra salt to this soup since the chorizo, ham shanks and chicken broth all contain a good amount already.


Calories: 592kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 1453mg | Potassium: 2269mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2257IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 247mg | Iron: 11mg